EuroBiotech Report—Eligo’s $20M, Autolus’ $80M, EMA’s Brexit blues, Nestlé wields ax and AstraZeneca PD-L1 pact

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Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. This week’s news is dotted with doomsday predictions and job cuts, but we start with two more upbeat stories. First, to France, where Eligo Bioscience raised $20 million to move a bacteria-killing CRISPR candidate into phase 1. Khosla Ventures and Seventure Partners backed the round after getting a look at animal data that suggests Eligo may have overcome the delivery challenge of getting large, complex synthetic DNA circuits to bacteria in the gut. Across the channel in London, Autolus was also celebrating a round. The next-generation CAR-T player pulled in $80 million to take three programs through to clinical proof of concept. Now, to the downbeat news. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) warned its Brexit-driven relocation will permanently damage its capabilities if ministers vote to move it to certain cities. EMA made the claim after a staff survey revealed fewer than 30% of its employees would relocate to eight of the 19 cities in the running to host the agency. Staff at Nestlé’s R&D site in Nice, France are also fearful about their job security. The company plans to ax up to 450 posts as it retreats from topical dermatology drug R&D in the face of competition from systemic rivals. AstraZeneca struck a deal to trial its PD-L1 drug in combination with NewLink Genetics’ IDO pathway inhibitor. And more. Nick Taylor  

1. Eligo raises $20M to take bacteria-killing CRISPR drug into clinic

Khosla Ventures and Seventure Partners have driven Eligo Bioscience to a $20 million (€17 million) series A. The round equips Eligo to move its lead CRISPR-enabled, bacteria-killing candidate toward the clinic in a rare disease indication.

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2. Next-gen CAR-T firm Autolus takes funding tally to $173M

London-based CAR-T player Autolus has raised $80 million in a third-round financing that it says will fund proof-of-concept testing for three programs.

3. EMA warns Brexit may permanently damage its capabilities

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has warned its Brexit-driven relocation could permanently damage the region’s regulatory system. EMA sounded the alarm after a staff survey found as few as 6% of its staff would move to some of the 19 cities vying to host the agency when it leaves London.

4. Nestlé to ax up to 450 skin health R&D jobs, exit facility

Nestlé is beating a retreat from topical dermatology drug R&D. The rethink of R&D priorities is set to cost up to 450 people their jobs and could result in the closure of a R&D facility.

5. AstraZeneca, NewLink pen PD-L1 and IDO combination pact

AstraZeneca has struck a deal to combine its anti-PD-L1 drug with NewLink Genetics’ IDO pathway inhibitor. The collaborators will jointly fund a phase 2 trial of the combination in pancreatic cancer patients.

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