Heptares plans Alzheimer's PhII; AstraZeneca ends I-O trial rollout; 4D buys microbiome firm

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Our top stories this week revolve around the two currencies biotechs deal in: cash and clinical data. Heptares generated itself some of the latter in a Phase I trial of its muscarinic M1 receptor agonist, the results from which have added to its belief that its pursuit of an Alzheimer's disease target that stumped Eli Lilly ($LLY) can pay off. AstraZeneca ($AZN), Ferring Pharmaceuticals and ImmuPharma (LON:IMM) are just setting out on their own quests for clinical data. Ferring kicked off a Phase IIIb trial that is pitting its prostate cancer drug against a rival product from AbbVie ($ABBV). AstraZeneca started the fifth and final trial in the suite of checkpoint inhibitor studies it committed to when it struck a $1.3 billion (€1.1 billion) deal with Innate Pharma (EPA:IPH). And ImmuPharma tapped investors for £8.3 million to deliver data from a long-gestating Phase III trial of its lupus drug. 4D pharma (LON:DDDD) moved to bolster its ability to stratify patients by acquiring microbiome startup Tucana Health. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Heptares plans PhII Alzheimer's, schizophrenia trials after M1 agonist clears first clinical test

Heptares is gearing up to advance a candidate from its muscarinic M1 receptor agonist program into Phase II in patients with Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia or Lewy body dementia. While specifics of which drug to aim at which indication are still being decided, Heptares has seen enough in its first clinical data to continue pursuing a target that has shown more promise than most in Alzheimer's.

2. AstraZeneca, Innate Pharma wrap up rollout of first wave of checkpoint inhibitor trials

AstraZeneca has kicked off another clinical trial of monalizumab, bringing to an end a rollout of studies it committed to when it struck its $1.3 billion (€1.1 billion) alliance with Innate Pharma. The fifth and final clinical trial in the first wave of studies is investigating the combination of monalizumab and AstraZeneca's big immuno-oncology hope durvalumab.

3. 4D pharma buys Tucana to add diagnostic capabilities to microbiome R&D toolkit

4D pharma has struck a deal to buy Tucana Health. The takeover, which is costing £3.1 million ($4.5 million) upfront with more tied to milestones, is intended to boost 4D pharma's ability to identify patients who may benefit from live biotherapeutics, starting with a treatment for ;irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

4. Ferring pits prostate cancer drug against AbbVie's Lupron in PhIIIb CV outcomes study

Ferring Pharmaceuticals is set to put its prostate cancer drug Firmagon up against AbbVie's Lupron in a Phase IIIb trial. The study is designed to assess the cardiovascular safety profile of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptor agonist and antagonist, potentially giving Ferring an edge over a product that generated $826 million (€744 million) for AbbVie last year.

5. ImmuPharma rounds up £8.3M for PhIII trial of fast-tracked lupus drug

ImmuPharma has raised £8.3 million ($12.0 million) to propel its lupus drug through a Phase III study. The cash will support ImmuPharma through to the data readout from its 200-person transatlantic trial, at which point management will weigh up commercialization options.

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