Amgen, Celgene and Eli Lilly joined forces with some prominent venture players to back a $26 million round for Sutro Biopharma, a San Francisco-based biotech which has been garnering some careful scrutiny for its work on antibodies.
As biotech venture funding plods along at a middling pace, A-list investor OrbiMed has bagged $735 million for its 5th fund, cash earmarked for life sciences companies across all stages of development.
California VC Versant Ventures is putting together another $200 million fund, according to a regulatory filing, building up its chest as biotech investments maintain their sluggish pace.
First-time venture deals in biotech cratered to a 17-year low in the first three quarters of 2013, but that doesn't mean startups are starving. As The Burrill Report points out, despite the VC drought, about a quarter of all equity deals in that period went into Series A rounds, meaning early-stage companies are getting creative and nailing down alternative funding sources.
Biotech companies in the U.S. drew a weak $852 million in venture support over the past quarter, a distinct downturn over a burst of new financing rounds in the second quarter. That dollar figure represented a 39% plunge from the second quarter, though the smaller bankroll was divided among 123 deals, with a 10% jump in the number of companies involved.
California's Versartis is having quite a year, pulling down another $20 million in venture financing to get its once-a-month growth hormone through mid-stage trials.
Stockholm-based Pharmalink AB is banking $15 million from a C round designed to get one drug through a Phase IIb study and position another therapy for a pivotal trial of its own.
Amid renewed optimism in biotech venture capital, Seattle stalwart Frazier Healthcare has pulled down a $377 million fund, surpassing its goal as it scouts for the next wave of emerging drug developers.
Looking at this year's boom in high-dollar biotech IPOs, you can't miss the fingerprints of Third Rock Ventures, with three of the hottest market debuts coming straight from the fund's portfolio. That success is no coincidence, the group says, and its founders gave Nature an inside look at its painstaking process of choosing which companies to bankroll and which to let slide.
Waltham, MA-based Syndax Pharmaceuticals took a big step to the threshold of a key pivotal study for its lead cancer therapy today, completing a $26.6 million venture round. The funds will pay for a Phase III study of entinostat, an HDAC inhibitor which promises to extend the efficacy of a standard breast cancer therapy.