De­ci­phera banks a $52M C round for can­cer R&D; Io­n­is adds $50M mile­stone from Bio­gen

→  Waltham, MA-based De­ci­phera Ther­a­peu­tics an­nounced that it has banked a $52 mil­lion C round to keep fu­el­ing its grow­ing pipeline ef­forts, in­clud­ing its lead drug, still in the ear­ly stages of de­vel­op­ment, a pan-KIT and PDGFR in­hibitor dubbed DCC-2618. Viking Glob­al In­vestors, Red­mile Group and Sphera Glob­al Health­care Fund led the round, joined by De­ci­phera’s ex­ist­ing in­vestors in­clud­ing New Leaf Ven­ture Part­ners. Said De­ci­phera CEO Michael Tay­lor: “The pro­ceeds of this fi­nanc­ing will be used to ad­vance de­vel­op­ment of DCC-2618 and DCC-3014 in­to lat­er-stage clin­i­cal tri­als with the goal of de­liv­er­ing new ther­a­pies that ad­dress key re­sis­tance mech­a­nisms to im­prove can­cer treat­ment out­comes.”

→  Io­n­is earned a $50 mil­lion mile­stone pay­ment from Bio­gen to­day as Spin­raza be­came the first ap­proved treat­ment for spinal mus­cu­lar at­ro­phy in the Eu­ro­pean Union. So far the com­pa­ny has earned $375 mil­lion from Bio­gen re­lat­ed to Spin­raza and is still slat­ed to re­ceive tiered roy­al­ties on glob­al sales of the drug. The com­pa­ny has pre­vi­ous­ly faced a back­lash over the drug’s price tag in the Unit­ed States.

→ Pen­ny biotech stock Thresh­old Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $THLD has sold off its AKR1C3-tar­get­ing drug TH-3424 to Tai­wan’s OBI Phar­ma for a sin­gle, undis­closed pay­ment. Thresh­old shares were crushed two years ago by a pair of key tri­al fail­ures. Its on­ly oth­er drug in the pipeline is evo­fos­famide, which is in a slate of stud­ies af­ter fail­ing in Phase III at Mer­ck KGaA.

→ Cam­bridge, MA-based Voy­ager an­nounced to­day that it has se­lect­ed VY-HTT01 as a clin­i­cal can­di­date for the treat­ment of Hunt­ing­ton’s dis­ease. They hope that a sin­gle de­liv­ery of the drug to a pa­tient’s brain will se­lec­tive­ly knock down the pro­duc­tion of HTT mR­NA. The com­pa­ny is work­ing with Sanofi Genezyme and CH­DI to de­vel­op the drug.

→   The Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion grant­ed Bio­Marin mar­ket­ing au­tho­riza­tion for Brineu­ra (cer­liponase al­fa), the first treat­ment ap­proved in the Eu­ro­pean Union for the treat­ment of neu­ronal ceroid lipo­fus­ci­nosis type 2 (CLN2). The FDA grant­ed ap­proval for the drug, one of the most ex­pen­sive on the mar­ket, at the end of April.

→   The Swiss bio­phar­ma com­pa­ny Inthera fin­ished a Se­ries A with $10.5 mil­lion. Mer­ck Ven­tures led the round with equal con­tri­bu­tion from Agla­ia Bio­Med­ical Ven­tures and No­vo Seeds as well as par­tic­i­pa­tion of a pri­vate in­vestor. “We are now in a po­si­tion to com­plete the pre-clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of our lead pro­gram against HPV-as­so­ci­at­ed can­cers and ex­pand our op­er­a­tions and pipeline”, said Ul­rich Kessler, CEO and co-founder of Inthera.

A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Mer­ck helps bankroll new part­ner Themis' game plan to fin­ish the chikun­gun­ya race and be­gin on­colyt­ic virus quest

As Themis gears up for a Phase III trial of its chikungunya vaccine, the Vienna-based biotech has closed out €40 million ($44 million) to foot the clinical and manufacturing bills.

Its heavyweight partners at Merck — which signed a pact around a mysterious “blockbuster indication” last month — jumped into the Series D, led by new investors Farallon Capital and Hadean Ventures. Adjuvant Capital also joined, as did current investors Global Health Investment Fund, aws Gruenderfonds, Omnes Capital, Ventech and Wellington Partners Life Sciences.