Novartis backs microbiome fund; GamaMabs bags €15M for IO trials; Oryzon lists in Madrid

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Despite Europe nearing the days in which it starts to wind down for the year, money kept flowing into and out of biotech funds this week. Novartis ($NVS) contributed to the influx of cash, signing up as the strategic pharma investor in Seventure Partners' microbiome-focused fund. The involvement of the Big Pharma pushed the size of the fund up to €160 million ($176 million), 33% more than Seventure set out to raise when it created the vehicle two years ago. GamaMabs Pharma and Kahr Medical added their names to the list of biotechs to raise money in 2015. French gynecological cancer specialist GamaMabs pulled in €15 million in a round led by Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners' BioDiscovery 4 to move its lead candidate into the clinic. And Israel's Kahr parted investors from $12 million to fuel its own cancer clinical trial program. Oryzon Genomics went public by listing shares on the Madrid Stock Exchange but, with the company not offering stock for sale, did so without raising cash. Bayer HealthCare took over the development of a cancer compound discovered by Compugen ($CGEN), handing over a $7.8 million milestone payment in the process. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Novartis backing sets Seventure up to place 25 bets on microbiome plays

Novartis ($NVS) has signed up as the strategic pharma investor in Seventure Partners' microbiome fund, blasting the VC shop past its initial fundraising target in the process. With €160 million ($176 million) to play with, Seventure now plans to back 25 microbiome companies, most of which will be based in Europe.

2. GamaMabs raises €15M to take immune-activating cancer candidate into the clinic

GamaMabs Pharma has raised €15 million ($16.4 million) to advance a monoclonal antibody against gynecological cancers into the clinic and up to proof-of-concept. Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners' BioDiscovery 4 came on board to lead the Series B round.

3. Oryzon lists in Madrid without raising fresh funds

Roche ($RHHBY)-partnered epigenetics specialist Oryzon Genomics (BME:ORY) has listed its shares on the Madrid Stock Exchange. The biotech went public by listing all its shares on the exchange rather than offering stock to investors, leaving it with the same market cap and bank balance as when it raised €16.5 million ($18.1 million) in a rights issue earlier this year.

4. Bayer takes control of Compugen cancer program, pays out milestone

Bayer HealthCare has taken full control of the development of CGEN-15001T, an immune checkpoint inhibitor discovered by Compugen ($CGEN). The asset transfer triggered a $7.8 million (€7.1 million) milestone payment by Bayer, bringing the total pocketed by Compugen since it entered into the deal in 2013 up to $25 million.

5. Kahr Medical leans on Korean VCs to raise $12M for oncology R&D

Kahr Medical has turned to Korean investors for a $12 million (€11 million) Series B round. And, with a further $3 million due to land in its bank account in mid-February, the protein-based drug specialist is now equipped to move its lead candidate through a Phase I/IIa lymphoma trial.

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