Genfit bags €50M as IPO plan simmers; British biotechs form cancer JV; Zealand drug fails PhII

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Our top story this week involves an injection of cash into Genfit, which has pulled in €49.6 million ($53.9 million) in a private placement. The money will see Genfit through the next two years, giving it the flexibility to wait for an opportune moment to hit go on its Nasdaq IPO plans. In England, Horizon Discovery (LON:HZD) and Centauri Therapeutics unveiled their collaborative push into the immuno-oncology sector. And, across the border in Wales, the government received a dressing down from the audit office over its handling of the creation of a venture capital fund. Zealand Pharma reported negative data from a Phase II trial of its cardiac reperfusion injury drug danegaptide. MorphoSys committed to a 40% jump in its proprietary R&D budget. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Biding its time on Nasdaq IPO, Genfit extends runway with €50M private placement

Genfit (EPA:GNFT) has raised €49.6 million ($53.9 million) in a private placement, giving it enough cash to reach the first quarter of 2018. If all goes to plan, by the time the money is due to run out, Genfit will be a little more than one year away from bringing its nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) drug elafibranor to market--and will have pulled off its long-anticipated Nasdaq IPO.

2. British biotechs team up to apply Nobel laureate's chemistry to immuno-oncology

A pair of British biotechs are pooling their resources and capabilities to have a crack at development of immuno-oncology drugs. The joint venture, Avvinity Therapeutics, is underpinned by technology, derived from the work of Nobel laureate Kary Mullis, that is designed to overcome the difficulties of treating wild-type expression and lower-frequency mutation cancers.

3. Zealand Pharma cardiac injury drug misses efficacy endpoint in POC trial

Zealand Pharma's (CPH:ZEAL) danegaptide has missed the primary endpoint in a Phase II cardiac reperfusion injury trial. The failure of the study, which was viewed as a long shot by some analysts, has led to Zealand focusing its resources on other areas of its pipeline.

4. Watchdog finds 'significant shortcomings' with government handling of biotech VC fund

A watchdog has torn apart the Welsh government's handling of the £100 million ($140 million) life science VC fund it set up with Sir Chris Evans' Arthurian Life Sciences. The Wales Audit Office (WAO) found "significant shortcomings" with the process through which Evans' Arthurian was picked to run the fund and listed faults with multiple other aspects of the operation.

5. MorphoSys to boost R&D budget by 40% as clinical trial program ramps up

MorphoSys (ETR:MOR) has committed to a mushrooming of its proprietary product R&D budget to support its growing program of clinical trials. The plan is to funnel up to €83 million ($90 million) into development of the products, giving MorphoSys the financial clout to move two drugs into the clinic and kick off a pair of Phase II trials of MOR202.

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