U.K. public life science investment hits £1.3B; Mission bags £60M; Pierre Fabre starts VC fund

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. This week, the London Stock Exchange said public life science investment hit a decade-long high in 2015. A bumper year for follow-on offerings drove the total investment up to £1.3 billion ($1.9 billion), a significant sum that masks the dearth of major IPOs. In the U.K. private sector, Mission Therapeutics picked up £60 million to shuttle a Parkinson's disease and cancer drug to Phase I data readouts, continuing the trend for sizable private rounds that characterized last year. While the VC money is flowing fairly freely, the government is facing more acute financial pressures, which have translated into it offering flat funding to early-phase clinical trial sites through to 2022. Across the channel in France, Pierre Fabre unveiled its plan to muscle in on the VC game. The company is focusing on programs just either side of first-in-human trials, a stage of development at which it thinks its cash and expertise will prove particularly valuable. InflaRx posted positive safety data from a Phase IIa trial of its treatment for septic organ dysfunction, setting the German biotech to barrel toward Phase IIb. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Follow-on bonanza drives U.K. investment in life science stocks past £1B

At first glance, 2015 looks like the year the London Stock Exchange turned its back on biotech once again. Acacia Pharma and Shield Therapeutics both tried and failed to be 2015's Circassia (LON:CIR), the big success story of 2014, leaving AIM listings and outliers such as PureTech (LON:PRTC) as the most notable London IPOs of the year. And yet, from another angle, 2015 looks like a landmark year.

2. Mission set to push Parkinson's, cancer drugs into PhI after scooping £60M

Mission Therapeutics is gearing up to move drugs from its Parkinson's disease and immuno-oncology programs into the clinic. The activity is to be fuelled by a £60 million ($88 million) investment, which has given the company the financial firepower to take a pair of programs based on its DUB platform through to Phase I data readouts over the next three to four years.

3. Pierre Fabre starts open-ended collaborative translational R&D fund

Pierre Fabre has entered the world of biotech investing with a vehicle for equity funding and R&D co-financing deals. But, while an open-ended sum of cash is theoretically available, the French firm is placing as much emphasis on the support it can provide fledgling biotechs at a critical stage of drug development.

4. InflaRx starts preparation for PhIIb septic organ dysfunction trial after clearing safety study

InflaRx has posted positive safety data from a Phase IIa trial of its treatment for early septic organ dysfunction. Having met the primary endpoints in the study, InflaRx is now sifting through the data ahead of planned meetings with regulators to discuss the design of a Phase IIb trial.

5. U.K. keeps funding for clinical research sites flat through to 2022

The United Kingdom government is to pump £112 million ($160 million) into a network of clinical research facilities from 2017 to 2022. Officials see the investment bolstering the attractiveness of the U.K. as a location for early-stage research, but the facilities will need to pull off these improvements without the benefit of access to a meaningfully bigger pot of money.

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