R&D returns are getting better, but not by much and not for everyone, report says

After three years of declining returns on R&D spend, the 12 largest operations have finally achieved an uptick in what they receive for each dollar of outlay. But the result is more of a bottoming out than a major turnaround, with returns still well below levels seen in 2010 and at least one company posting a negative yield.

Juno preps an IPO worth up to $191M amid CAR-T fever pitch

Juno Therapeutics, whose approach to treating cancer has turned heads around the industry, has set terms for its highly anticipated IPO, looking to raise as much as $191 million as it works to train the immune system to better fight tumors.

Amgen and Merck kick off a combo cancer trial

Amgen and Merck have launched an early-stage trial pairing their respective cancer immunotherapies, looking to confirm the clinical and commercial promise of combination approaches to cancer.

Angiochem heralds preclinical promise with brain-penetrating cancer therapy

Angiochem pulled off the rare feat of getting an anticancer antibody through the brain's protective mesh in a preclinical study, and now the Canadian biotech is on the hunt for partners to take the next step.

Pfizer strikes another immunotherapy deal to widen its oncology pipeline

With its designs on AstraZeneca at least temporarily abandoned, Pfizer has set out to create an immuno-oncology portfolio of its own, signing a deal with a Belgian biotech to get its hands on treatments that promise to sharpen the body's anticancer weaponry.

Lilly and Incyte's oral arthritis drug aces its first Phase III test

A new rheumatoid arthritis pill from Eli Lilly and Incyte beat out placebo in a pivotal trial, the first late-stage success for a drug the companies hope can carve out a space in a crowded market.

Bluebird posts more promising results for its rare disease therapy

Bluebird bio's experimental therapy for the genetic blood disorder beta-thalassemia major is working just as the biotech planned, using a single dose to wean two more patients off of the chronic transfusions required to treat the disease.

Circassia looks to higher doses to salvage ragweed drug after PhIIb miss

Circassia Pharmaceuticals' pipeline has suffered its first notable post-IPO setback. The British biotech's ragweed allergy drug failed to live up to expectations in a Phase IIb trial, prompting the company to dig deeper into the data in search of a path forward for the candidate.

Six years and $8.8B later, Takeda is ditching the Millennium name

In 2008, Takeda made waves in the biotech world when it agreed to pay $8.8 billion for Millennium Pharmaceuticals, a trailblazing outfit from Cambridge, MA. Now, years into integrating its acquisition, Takeda is dropping the Millennium moniker, spelling the end of the line for what was once an iconic brand in biotech.

Pfizer buys into gene therapy's renaissance and bets on Spark Therapeutics

Pfizer is the latest pharma heavyweight to get behind the promise of gene therapy, as the New York drugmaker has laid out plans to set up a dedicated R&D operation and signed a deal with startup Spark Therapeutics to kick-start the effort.

Novartis adds to CAR-T's luster with more excellent cancer data

A new cancer treatment from Novartis and its partners at the University of Pennsylvania came through in another round of early studies, posting stellar results and burnishing the promise of therapies that train the immune system to bear down on tumor cells.

Merck splashes into antibiotics with $9.5B Cubist deal

Merck is shelling out $9.5 billion for antibiotics specialist Cubist Pharmaceuticals, joining the wave of major drugmakers with a renewed interest in anti-infectives.

Panel: How to understand the long biotech boom?

Fundamental scientific and patient advances, as well as the investors who embrace them, have transformed biotech in just the last few years. As this has coincided with a broader resurgence in the stock market, industry valuations have skyrocketed. Suddenly, big cap biotechs Gilead Sciences and Amgen are larger than all but four of their pharma peers as measured by market cap.

Agios' AG-221 racks up more cancer remissions, setting the stage for a pivotal challenge

Just a few months after Agios Pharmaceuticals highlighted clear indications of success for its early-stage drug AG-221 for various blood cancers, the biotech has followed up with a bonus round of promising results at the annual scientific meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

Merck's PD-1 star Keytruda shines at ASH, but lags behind Bristol-Myers' rival

Merck's new PD-1 cancer drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) has posted another round of positive early-stage results that help demonstrate its potential in an important cancer R&D arena: hematology. But some of the biggest players and punters in the immuno-oncology field may be left wondering if Merck's top therapeutic hopeful is losing market ground to Bristol-Myers Squibb's rival treatment.

Rare disease could be the gateway to billions for PCSK9 drugs

About 1.5 million Americans suffer from familial hypercholesterolemia, an inherited disease that leads to dangerously high cholesterol, and they're likely to be the first targets for a new class of drugs that promise to bring in blockbuster sales.

India wants in on the biotech hub trend

India should take a cue from the biotech hotbeds of the U.S. and U.K., a local trade groups says, investing in infrastructure to help foster startups and grow innovation clusters of its own.

Does the 'sharing economy' have a place in biotech?

Formed in 2011, Palo Alto, CA's Science Exchange is, as The Economist phrases it, the "Uber for experiments." The site recruits labs from around the world to list their available services and then invites researchers to browse for their ideal partner.

Juno expands its CAR-T arsenal with latest immuno-oncology deal

Seattle's Juno Therapeutics, at work on treatments that train the immune system to better fight cancer, has signed a deal to expand its pipeline of therapies, licensing a complementary candidate developed by the National Cancer Institute.

After Teva shakeup, Yitzhak Peterburg steps up as chairman

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 Michael Gibney (email | Twitter)...