Nuron Biotech bags $80M deal to back vaccines portfolio, PhIII MS drug work

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The investment cash has been flowing into biotechnology this week. This morning Nuron Biotech joined the parade, announcing an $80 million deal designed to boost its work expanding a portfolio of vaccines while pushing ahead on a late-stage development program for multiple sclerosis. Just days ago the Exton, PA-based Nuron bagged Meningitec, which guards against meningitis, sepsis and pneumonia, from Pfizer ($PFE). Now HealthCare Royalty Partners II has agreed to invest $30 million in the company with an additional $50 million for a royalty pact based on sales of its vaccines.

Nuron has been pursuing an unorthodox strategy for a biotech. It's been building a market for vaccines--a strategy that also included the acquisition of Pfizer's neglected Hib vaccine last year--while developing a pipeline of new chemical entities. Its most advanced program is built around NU100, a recombinant human interferon beta-1b product in a late-stage study for multiple sclerosis.

Nuron launched the Phase III for NU1001 a little more than a year ago, with plans to recruit 500 MS patients in 125 sites across Europe and Asia. The product is designed to make interferon--a product associated with a laundry list of side effects--more tolerable for patients. Interferon beta is the most frequently used treatment for relapsing-remitting MS. 

"We are confident that Nuron can build the infrastructure to expand Meningitec's market in Europe while capitalizing on new markets with unvaccinated and under-vaccinated populations," Gregory B. Brown, M.D., the founding managing director of HC Royalty, said in a release. "In the company's pipeline, lead candidate NU100, for example, is a proprietary human interferon beta-1b, which is in a Phase III clinical trial for multiple sclerosis, and may improve long-term clinical efficacy, tolerability and safety for patients currently requiring therapy with interferon." 

In its release HealthCare Royalty Partners said that it had invested more than $2 billion in 40 royalty agreements over the past decade.

- here's the press release

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