EuroBiotech Report: Big Pharma trio backs cancer startup

Map of Europe

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. In Israel this week, Metabomed celebrated adding Pfizer to a list of investors that already featured the VC units of Merck KGaA and Boehringer Ingelheim. The Big Pharma trio joined together to pump $18 million (€15.8 million) into the cancer metabolism player. Over in Switzerland, Anergis wrapped up a financing of its own, adding a fresh tranche of cash to its Series B to bring its total haul in the round up to CHF 30 million. Amryt Pharmaceuticals also had money on its mind. The U.K. rare disease specialist, which is chaired by the founder of Shire, outlined plans to raise £10 million alongside a deal that would net it a spot on London's AIM. AB Science posted a glimpse at data from a Phase II/III trial in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, triggering a 40% jump in its stock price. MorphoSys began a CD38-related patent infringement case against Genmab and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Biotech. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Big Pharma trio drive cancer metabolism upstart to $18M Series A round

Pfizer ($PFE) has joined with the VC wings of Merck KGaA and Boehringer Ingelheim to funnel $18 million (€15.8 million) into Metabomed. The tumor metabolism upstart has attracted the Big Pharma trio on the potential of its discovery platform to deliver more targeted anticancer drugs by homing in on synthetically lethal gene pairs.

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2. AB Science jumps 40% as optimism trumps skepticism in wake of PhIII ALS data

AB Science (EPA:AB) is claiming a big win in its long-running attempt to bring masitinib to market. A Phase II/III trial of the drug in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) met its primary endpoint, sparking a 40% jump in AB Science's stock while simultaneously raising questions about whether this will prove to be another false dawn for the company.

3. Shire founder oversees reverse merger of rare-disease startup onto AIM

A rare-disease startup chaired by the founder of Shire ($SHPG) is set to snag a listing on London's AIM through a reverse takeover. The startup, Amryt Pharmaceuticals, is raising £10 million ($14 million) in conjunction with the deal, a sum it will use to run a Phase III trial of its lead candidate in patients with a group of rare inherited skin disorders known as epidermolysis bullosa.

4. Extension swells Anergis' Series B to CHF 30M as start of allergy PhIIb trial nears

Anergis has returned to investors for another tranche of cash to finance clinical development of its birch pollen allergy product. The extension, which brings the total raised in the Series B round to CHF 30 million ($31 million), stretches Anergis' financial runway out beyond generation of the Phase IIb data it foresees forming the basis of partnership talks.

5. MorphoSys takes Genmab, J&J to court over CD38 antibody patent

MorphoSys (ETR:MOR) has initiated legal action against Genmab (CPH:GEN) and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Janssen Biotech. The case relates to Darzalex, Genmab and Janssen's multiple myeloma drug that MorphoSys claims infringes on its patent covering antibodies with certain features that bind to CD38.

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