EuroBiotech Report: Chiasma axes 33% of staff as approval hopes fade

Europe

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. We start this week with downbeat news for Chiasma ($CHMA) and its staff, one-third of whom now find themselves out of work. The deep cuts at the company follow acceptance at Chiasma that FDA’s concerns with its clinical trial design mean a near-term approval of its acromegaly drug is unlikely. UniQure ($QURE) spent the week suffering, too. The gene therapy specialist saw its stock slide 16% after investors got a look at data on both its hemophilia B asset and a rival product from Spark Therapeutics ($ONCE). News of a less negative nature was generated in the U.K., where VC shop Draper Esprit pulled off a £102 million IPO and Neil Woodford upped his stake in Imperial Innovations (LON:IVO). Zealand Pharma (CPH:ZEAL) teamed up with Beta Bionics to advance an artificial pancreas into the clinic later this year. And more. Nick Taylor

1. Ax falls on 33% of Chiasma staff after trial design doubts scuttle approval hopes

The fallout from FDA’s concerns about the design of Chiasma’s Phase III program has cost one-third of the company’s employees their jobs. 

2. UniQure slides toward historic lows after its hemB gene therapy goes up against Spark

UniQure saw its stock slide 16% following a weekend in which data on its hemophilia B gene therapy AMT-060 went up against a rival readout from Spark Therapeutics. A single infusion of AMT-060 improved the hemophilia phenotype of all five patients in the uniQure study, but data on Factor IX (FIX) activity compared unfavorably to results presented by Spark. 

3. In rare IPO by a VC shop, Draper Esprit raises £102M

Draper Esprit has raised £102 million through a listing of its stock on exchanges in London and Dublin. The listings, which represent a rare foray by a VC shop onto public markets, are intended to enable Draper Esprit to make long-term bets on European companies and give individual investors a way to back venture-stage businesses. 

4. Woodford invests another £12M in Imperial Innovations, bringing total stake to 21%

Neil Woodford’s fund has snapped up £11.6 million worth of Imperial Innovations’ £100 million placement. The deal gives Woodford Investment Management a 21% stake in the company, an academia-focused tech commercialization and investment firm that lists Circassia (LON:CIR) and PsiOxus Therapeutics in its portfolio. 

5. Zealand taps Beta Bionics to hustle artificial pancreas into the clinic

Zealand Pharma has teamed up with Beta Bionics to develop an artificial pancreas. The collaboration, which is aiming to enter the clinic this year, is pairing Zealand’s stable liquid glucagon analog ZP4207 with Beta Bionics’ automated, continual diabetes monitoring and drug delivery system. 

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