Protocols

Pieris soars on $31M-plus checkpoint development deal; Luca Santarelli takes helm at Therachon

• Boston-based Pieris $PIRS has inked a deal to work with France’s Servier on some bispecific checkpoint development programs. The deal comes with a $31 million upfront and $338 million in milestones for their progress on PRS-332 plus up to $201 million in milestones for each of four other programs in the package. The deal covers five bispecific therapeutic programs, led by Pieris’ PRS-332 program. Pieris shares shot up 27% on the news.

Luca Santarelli

• Luca Santarelli, the former neuroscience R&D chief at Roche, is taking the helm at Basel-based Therachon. Therachon also added $5 million to its Series A, bringing the total to $40 million. The company is focused on rare genetic disease, with a leading program on dwarfism. One of its backers is Versant, where Santarelli has been a venture partner.

• The UK’s NeRRe Therapeutics raised £23 million in an oversubscribed Series B financing round. The funds will be used to gather Phase II data on orvepitant, its lead oral NK-1 antagonist candidate as a potential new treatment for a common, chronic respiratory condition; and to advance NT-814, a dual NK-1,3 antagonist, into Phase II trials as a potential non-hormonal treatment of distressing post-menopausal vasomotor symptoms.

• La Jolla, CA-based Avidity Biosciences has wrapped a $16 million Series B financing round to support the development of its Antibody-siRNA Conjugat platform. Takeda Pharmaceuticals, through its venture group, led the Series B round, and both new and existing investors participated, including Alethea Capital, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Brace Pharma, EcoR1 Capital, F-Prime Capital, Moore Venture Partners and Tavistock Life Sciences.

• A month after Alexion Chief Executive David Hallal and Chief Financial Officer Vikas Sinha were booted from the company, an internal investigation concluded that sales people had been pressured to push orders of Soliris before they were needed in order to meet the company’s financial goals. The company also said that it would not need to restate earnings.

• Shares of Halozyme Therapeutics rose after the biotech claimed that its mid-stage pancreatic cancer drug did well. The drug was combined with Celgene’s Abraxane and Eli Lilly’s gemcitabine.


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