EuroBiotech Report—AstraZeneca’s busy week, Big Pharma help Euro VC fund go big and Boehringer places NASH bet


Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. One-company news machine AstraZeneca dominates our lineup of stories this week. The Big Pharma scored an imperfect hat-trick of sorts, posting negative data on tralokinumab, offloading AZD9668 to Mereo BioPharma and snagging rights to a heart failure drug in development at Moderna Therapeutics. Two of AstraZeneca’s peers—Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson—helped BioGeneration Ventures blast past its fundraising target. A third—Boehringer Ingelheim—moved deeper into RNAi and NASH through a pact with Dicerna Pharmaceuticals. And more.—Nick Taylor  

1. Double disappointment for AstraZeneca lung drug tralokinumab

After a failed trial in May, AstraZeneca hoped tralokinumab could pass subpopulation tests and make it to the finish line, but it wasn’t meant to be.

2. AstraZeneca offloads midphase respiratory drug to Mereo

AstraZeneca has outlicensed a stagnating respiratory disease asset to Mereo BioPharma. The deal sees AstraZeneca join Novartis among Mereo’s shareholders and further its efforts to offload deprioritized drugs.

3. AstraZeneca, Moderna pen deal for mRNA heart failure drug

AstraZeneca and Moderna Therapeutics have agreed to codevelop a relaxin mRNA treatment for heart failure. The candidate is designed to induce the body to produce relaxin, a hormone research groups including Novartis see as a way to regulate the conditions that exacerbate heart failure.

4. Bristol-Myers, Johnson & Johnson help BGV top fund goal

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson have invested in BioGeneration Ventures’ (BGV) third fund. The involvement of the Big Pharma companies helped BGV blast past its fundraising target, leaving it with €82 million ($95 million) to invest in early-stage life science companies in Europe.

5. Boehringer, Dicerna pen $201M pact to hit NASH with RNAi

Boehringer Ingelheim has put up $201 million (€173 million) to work with Dicerna Pharmaceuticals on RNAi treatments for NASH and other chronic liver diseases. The goal is to use Dicerna’s GalXC technology to silence previously inaccessible drug targets, thereby restoring liver function.

And more articles of note>>