Forbion, ex-Dezima team gun for Intercept; Ipsen ousts deputy CEO; e-Therapeutics defends data

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Having scored big when Amgen ($AMGN) bought Dezima for up to $1.5 billion (€1.3 billion) last year, Forbion Capital Partners is now applying its hands-on approach to investing to NASH player Akarna Therapeutics. The Dutch VC shop contributed to a $15 million investment in Akarna. And, as importantly, it has reformed the R&D team behind Dezima to handle preclinical and clinical development of an asset designed to usurp Intercept Pharmaceuticals' claim on the NASH market. While Forbion was reuniting collaborators, the board of directors at Ipsen was tearing apart its leadership team. Deputy CEO Christel Bories is out of a job, while Marc de Garidel is stepping aside as CEO to focus on being nonexecutive chairman. The hunt for a new CEO is underway. In Sweden, two biotechs turned to public investors for cash. BioInvent and Karo Bio, which are collectively aiming to raise just shy of $60 million, will use the cash for cancer clinical trials and M&A, respectively. E-Therapeutics, reeling from a 30% drop in its stock price, defended its Phase IIb depression drug data, claiming it revealed a product with "pretty much" the hoped-for profile. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Forbion rounds up ex-Dezima team to chase down Intercept in NASH

Forbion Capital Partners has rounded up members of the team that led Dezima to a $1.5 billion (€1.3 billion) takeover to mount an attempt to chase down Intercept Pharmaceuticals ($ICPT). The project, which is getting underway with a $15 million round and the establishment of teams on both sides of the Atlantic, is aiming to have an FXR agonist to rival Intercept's own in the clinic later this year.

2. Ipsen ousts deputy CEO following 'disagreements' over strategy

Ipsen (EPA:IPN) has ousted its deputy CEO following "disagreements over strategy." The reshuffle will also see CEO Marc de Garidel step aside and limit his role to that of nonexecutive chairman, leaving Ipsen in need of a new person to occupy its top leadership position.

3. E-Therapeutics defends PhIIb fail, claiming drug has 'pretty much' the hoped-for profile

E-Therapeutics (LON:ETX) has defended the Phase IIb data that caused its stock to crater, with CEO Malcolm Young arguing that the trial has revealed a depression drug with "pretty much" the hoped-for profile. Young's stance is that while the Phase IIb found 20 mg and 70 mg of ETS6103 to be inferior to a decades-old generic, the safety and efficacy profile that has emerged across three doses and two Phase II trials suggests the drug can find a niche in the depression market.

4. BioInvent brings U.S. investor on board to support multifront oncology trial program

BioInvent (STO:BINV) is issuing stock in an attempt to raise SEK 234 million ($28 million) to support its nascent pipeline of clinical-phase candidates. Omega Funds, which lists CRISPR front-runner Editas Medicine ($EDIT) among its investments, is snaffling up SEK 43 million of the stock, making it a major shareholder in BioInvent during a critical phase of the biotech's rebuilding process.

5. Karo Bio raises $30M to acquire late-phase development programs

Karo Bio (STO:KARO) has raised SEK 250 million ($30 million) by issuing stock to existing shareholders. The haul, which could swell by 12% if an overallotment is taken up, will give Karo the means to pursue plans to acquire products that are nearing commercialization while continuing to fund its pipeline prospects.

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