Forbion leads $62.5M round for neuro startup as ex-Teva R&D chief takes control; CSL Behring inks gene therapy pact in immunology
→ Forbion has led a $62.5 million round for Prilenia Therapeutics to fund two late-stage trials in Huntington’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Michael Hayden, the former Teva R&D chief who’s been serving as chairman, will now take over as CEO to oversee the program for pridopidine, which agonizes the sigma-1 receptor (S1R). Morningside and Sectoral Asset Management also joined, as did Talisman Capital Partners and Genworks 2.
→ Australia’s CSL Behring is teaming up with Seattle Children’s Research Institute to develop stem cell gene therapies for rare primary immunodeficiency diseases, starting with Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome and X-linked Agammaglobulinemia. They are among 400 primary immunodeficiency diseases, in which the human immune system is dysfunctional. “Expanding our gene therapy portfolio into an area of immunology well known to CSL exemplifies how we are strategically growing our capabilities in this strategic scientific platform and are collaborating with world class institutions to access innovation with the potential to vastly improve patients’ lives,” noted CSL R&D chief Bill Mezzanotte.
→ Hyloris Pharmaceuticals, a Belgian company dedicated to reformulating well-known drugs, is looking to tap the public market by listing on Euronext Brussels. “The IPO is expected to provide us with the resources needed to finance the development of our existing portfolio of product candidates, as well as establish a commercial infrastructure in the United States for our IV Cardiovascular portfolio (excl. Sotalol IV, which is commercialized through a partner), where we will focus on addressing prescribers in a cost-efficient manner by concentrating on specialized care facilities such as hospitals,” CEO Stijn Van Rompay said in a statement.
→ GHO Capital has put the $1 billion-plus fund it closed at the end of last year to use, buying X-Chem from an affiliate of The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman. The company specializes in DNA-Encoded Library (DEL)-based discovery services and has licensed over 70 research programs to biopharma partners over the years. Matt Clark, a co-founder and the current SVP of chemistry, will replace Rick Wagner as CEO.
→ Dublin-based Avectas has enlisted Scott Simon’s lab at UC Davis to characterize cells engineered on its platform, with the goal of informing the development of next-gen cell therapies. “A major focus of our group is to understand how chemical and mechanical forces acting on immune cells enable them to localize at sites of inflammation,” Simon said in a statement. “The partnership with Avectas will help us evaluate how these same forces play a role to delivering mRNA and proteins to immune cells and thereby extend their therapeutic applications.”
→ Ireland’s Shorla Pharma has closed its Series A at $8.3 million to advance a slate of drugs for rare, orphan and pediatric cancers. Seroba Life Sciences led the round, which featured other local investors as well as family offices in Canada.
→ Christian Angermayer, founder of the mental health and psychedelics biotech ATAI, is trying to bring the Australian biotech Bionomics and its PTSD drug back from the near-dead. Bionomic’s stock flatlined to $0.04 after the drug’s failure in a Phase II trial, but the company, which has also partnered with Merck on Alzheimer’s, has since reformulated the drug, and Angermayer is betting it might now work. His firm Apeiron put down $5 million and underwrote $15 million in funding to put the compound back into trials.