J&J buys into Achillion's hep C pipeline for up to $1.1B

Johnson & Johnson, fighting to keep up with the blockbuster race to launch quick cures for hepatitis C, has agreed to pay as much as $1.1 billion for the rights to Achillion Pharmaceuticals' pipeline of antiviral treatments.

Moving from CV to CAR-T, Cardio3 changes its name and eyes a $115M U.S. IPO

Celyad, the former Cardio3 Biosciences, filed to make a $115 million debut on the Nasdaq, stretching its focus from heart treatments to the fast-growing field of cancer immunotherapy.

GW Pharma CEO jumps to the U.S., betting on epilepsy approval

U.K. drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals believes its cannabis-derived epilepsy treatment is on its way to Phase III success and FDA approval, moving its CEO to the U.S. as it builds a North American presence.

Intercept plots a big Phase III NASH trial with room for an early approval

Intercept Pharmaceuticals, striving to launch the world's first treatment for a pervasive liver disease, spelled out its plans for a sizable Phase III study designed to secure an accelerated approval and help the company retain pole position in a potentially lucrative field.

PsiOxus bags $39M from Woodford, GSK for checkpoint inhibitor combo trial

Neil Woodford's new $1.2 billion fund and GlaxoSmithKline's VC unit have contributed to a $39 million Series C round in PsiOxus Therapeutics. The cash will allow PsiOxus to test its oncolytic virus together with a checkpoint inhibitor, a combination it thinks can make the immuno-oncology treatment effective against otherwise resistant targets.

Bluebird beats a path to early approval for its pioneering gene therapy

Bluebird bio, developing a potential cure for a rare blood disorder, is angling for an accelerated approval as it works through clinical trials, setting out a regulatory framework that could get the gene therapy on the market sooner than expected.

Regeneron speeds toward the FDA with its would-be asthma blockbuster

Regeneron has advanced dupilumab, regarded by many as the company's next big innovation, into a Phase III asthma study, rolling toward an FDA submission behind its lead eczema program.

AstraZeneca splashes $285M on a new biotech plant

AstraZeneca's best bets for the future are mostly biological treatments. And to prepare for its growing dependence on biotech drugs, the U.K. drugmaker is spending $285 million on a new biologics manufacturing operation.

Sorrento dives into immuno-oncology under Soon-Shiong's shadow

Sorrento Therapeutics, a frequent partner of billionaire biotech entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, launched a new subsidiary to advance its take on CAR-T therapies for cancer, taking a page from its patron as it tosses more and more irons in the R&D fire.

Novo's liraglutide works in diabetes and obesity. How about NASH?

The commercial potential of NASH, a common liver disease with no approved treatments, has seemingly launched a thousand R&D ships around the industry. And Novo Nordisk, emboldened by an investigator-sponsored study, might be sitting on an effective therapy for the pervasive ailment with liraglutide, a blockbuster already approved for diabetes and obesity.

Boehringer strikes $250M deal for Phase I NASH drug

Boehringer Ingelheim has made a quick decision about Pharmaxis' non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) drug, striking a $250 million deal to buy the Phase I asset just two months after inking an option to acquire the program.

A pair of Celgene partners gets on the FDA fast track

Celgene's expansive approach to partnering continues to bear fruit, as two of the Big Biotech's in-licensed treatments have been added to the FDA's fast-track program, promising a speedy regulatory review as each approaches Phase III.

The FierceBiotech panel: Top research execs tackle the fast-changing field of cancer drug R&D

Some of the leaders in the field will be gathering for a special FierceBiotech panel discussion on clinical trial design and execution for cancer drugs at the upcoming annual meeting of BIO in Philadelphia on June 16.

Third Rock's Eleven Bio flunks a Phase III dry eye study

Eleven Biotherapeutics' top pipeline prospect bombed a late-stage study in dry eye disease, failing to beat out placebo and forcing the Third Rock Ventures-founded biotech to pivot its focus.

Third Rock eyes a Cambridge, MA, beachhead as biotech gets priced out

As growing demand for lab space in Cambridge, MA, threatens to price out startups, biotech foundry Third Rock Ventures is looking to make a splash in the neighborhood to give its seedlings access to one of the industry's most vibrant innovation hubs, Beta Boston reports.

Cortendo splashes $35M on a pair of acromegaly drugs

Swedish-American biotech Cortendo is expanding its focus on rare endocrine diseases, buying a pair of Phase II treatments for acromegaly for a combined $35 million.

Soon-Shiong bets $90M on Sorrento's next-gen Abraxane with $1.2B on the line

NantWorks, the nebulous empire of biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, is handing over $90 million to partner Sorrento Therapeutics in exchange for a Phase III cancer drug heralded as a successor to the blockbuster Abraxane.

Celladon halves its workforce to conserve cash after gene therapy meltdown

Reeling after the Phase IIb failure of its "breakthrough" gene therapy for heart failure, Celladon is slashing its budget and payroll, vowing to find a way forward that preserves value for its investors.

Heading for startup Denali, Tessier-Lavigne to leave Pfizer board

Welcome to this week's Chutes and Ladders, our roundup of hirings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word--or the bad--from your shop to Eric Sagonowsky (email) or...

Racing a crowded field, Amgen says migraine drug looks promising in PhII

Amgen says it got the positive data it was looking for from a Phase II study of AMG 334, one of several experimental migraine drugs that share the same target and are in the running to compete against an old generation of drugs on the market.