Post-restructuring, Biogen's top execs are back in the R&D talent hunt

SAN FRANCISCO--Four months after Biogen swiftly slashed 880 jobs in a wrenching restructuring, the biotech trendsetter is back on a new hiring spree in research aimed at luring in a wave of top talent in neuroscience R&D.

BioLineRx joins immuno-oncology scrum through Keytruda combo deal

BioLineRx has become the latest company to stake its claim for a spot on the burgeoning roster of immuno-oncology combinations. The small biotech is aiming to muscle into the sector by showing its CXCR4 antagonist BL-8040 can boost the effectiveness of Merck's Keytruda in metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Gene therapy player Spark eyes a groundbreaking approval by 2017

Spark Therapeutics, at work on gene therapies for rare diseases, laid out an ambitious three-year plan that would see its top candidate win FDA approval and 9 others enter clinical trials.

Biden maps out a 'moonshot' approach to cancer with plans to 'break down silos' in R&D

Vice President Joe Biden fleshed out his plans to take the lead on a global effort to bolster cancer research, hoping to unite industry and academia to push new therapies forward.

Obama's pick for FDA chief clears a Senate panel on the way to likely approval

Robert Califf, a Duke University cardiologist in line to become the next FDA commissioner, won over a Senate panel and is on his way to final confirmation, slated to follow Margaret Hamburg as head of the agency.

Boehringer bets $262M on Arena's CNS discovery platform

German pharma giant Boehringer Ingelheim is wagering up to $262 million on a discovery-stage project with the struggling Arena Pharmaceuticals, hoping to spotlight new treatments for central nervous system disorders.

Local council moves to buy Novartis' Horsham site with view to creating science park

Novartis is on the verge of offloading its former R&D site in Horsham, U.K., to the local council. The agreement of initial terms with West Sussex council comes 8 months after the University of Brighton backed out of a deal because it was unable to secure government funding.

Cardiorentis raises $60M as PhIII heart failure trial nears completion

Cardiorentis has raised CHF 60 million ($60 million). The investment bolsters the biotech's bank balance at a time when it is nearing the end of a Phase III trial of its drug for acute decompensated heart failure, data from which are due to be submitted to regulators later this year.

Fresh investment in Novimmune brings fundraising haul up to $245M

Novimmune has tapped existing investors for CHF 30 million ($30 million) to support the advance of its pipeline, particularly a therapy for a rare immune system disorder that is making its way through Phase II. The fundraising brings the total raised by the company in its 18-year history up to $245 million.

Allergan's pipeline doesn't get enough respect, if you ask Pfizer

Pfizer, wending toward a record-setting $160 billion merger with Allergan, said its soon-to-be subsidiary doesn't get the R&D credit it deserves among industry insiders.

BioLineRx joins Merck's clique of immuno-oncology partners

Israeli drug developer BioLineRx is partnering with Merck to see whether its in-development cancer therapy can work in tandem with an approved treatment that taps the power of the immune system, joining a long list of clinical partners.

Ysios, J&J back €11.5M round in Aelix to fund trials of HIV treatment

Aelix Therapeutics has raised €11.5 million ($12.6 million) to advance a therapeutic HIV candidate to clinical proof of concept. Ysios Capital, Johnson & Johnson and others backed the round, having been persuaded that Aelix's immunotherapy has the potential to be a functional cure for HIV.

Takeda teams with enGene for gastrointestinal R&D

Japanese drugmaker Takeda signed a deal with enGene to spotlight new therapies for gastrointestinal disease.

Roche and AbbVie line up for quick approval for cancer drug venetoclax

Partners Roche and AbbVie are speeding toward FDA approval with a cancer treatment tabbed as a potential blockbuster, picking up a priority review for a blood cancer therapy.

Iconic Therapeutics snags $40M for eye disease R&D

South San Francisco's Iconic Therapeutics raised $40 million in Series C cash to support its work on treatments for eye cancer, moving toward clinical trials with its ocular melanoma program.

Kodiak bags a $34M B round for retinal R&D

Ophthalmology biotech Kodiak Sciences raised $34 million in Series B financing to speed up its pipeline of ocular therapies.

Much-hyped Moderna barrels into the clinic with 6 human trials planned for '16

Moderna Therapeutics, a superlatively well-funded private biotech, has made the leap from preclinical bluster to first-in-human trials, testing out its inaugural candidate and planning to move 5 more into the clinic this year.

Merck buys out IOmet, adding new immuno-oncology tech

Merck has snagged Edinburgh-based IOmet for an undisclosed sum, adding a preclinical pipeline of therapies that target the IDO/TDO pathways that may help spur an immune system attack on cancer.

GlaxoSmithKline and Five Prime ditch lung cancer ambitions as rivals pile in

Partners GlaxoSmithKline and Five Prime Therapeutics are abandoning their hopes of developing an early-stage drug for lung cancer, pivoting to mesothelioma as the landscape gets more and more competitive.

Juno buys into sequencing; Moderna cozies up to Big Pharma; and more from #JPM16

In the requisite flood of dealmaking that marks day one of San Francisco's annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, high-profile biotechs Juno Therapeutics and Moderna Therapeutics widened their R&D operations, while some smaller players signed deals and roped in cash to keep their projects moving.