EuroBiotech Report: Merck KGaA, Pfizer back Cambridge oncology spinout

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EuroBiotech logoWelcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Storm Therapeutics led the way in a week in which several European biopharma companies secured financing. The University of Cambridge spinout pulled in £12 million ($16 million) from Merck KGaA, Pfizer and others to develop small-molecule modulators of RNA-modifying enzymes. Evotec teamed up with prolific biotech entrepreneur Herbert Stadler to advance its nonalcoholic steatohepatitis program. And Cytune Pharma raised €6 million to move its interleukin-15-based pitch for a slice of the immuno-oncology market into the clinic. Allergy Therapeutics had a tougher week. A Phase II trial of its grass pollen allergy product failed to establish a recommended dose, sparking a 20% slide in its stock price. And more. Nick Taylor

1. Merck KGaA, Pfizer help RNA modification biotech to £12M Series A

The venture capital wings of Merck KGaA and Pfizer ($PFE) have contributed to a £12 million ($16 million) Series A investment in Storm Therapeutics, a spinout from the University of Cambridge that is developing small-molecule modulators of RNA-modifying enzymes.

2. Prolific biotech entrepreneur commits cash to Evotec’s NASH program

Herbert Stadler’s Ellersbrook has invested in Evotec’s (FRA:EVT) in-house nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) drug discovery program. The deal sees Ellersbrook and Evotec agree to jointly bankroll the advance of NASH programs, with a view to spinning them off into an independent startup or partnering them with a biopharma company down the line.

3. Cytune raises €6M to move modified IL-15 I/O asset into the clinic

Cytune Pharma has secured €6 million ($6.7 million) to advance its lead candidate into the clinic. The drug, a modified version of interleukin-15, is seen by Cytune as a way to stimulate natural killer and cytotoxic cells, without simultaneously activating regulatory T cells that dampen the immune response.

4. Allergy Therapeutics fails to find optimal dose in PhII, delays PhIII

June has been a bad month for British allergy biotechs. First, Circassia (LON:CIR) came up short in a Phase III cat allergy trial. Now, Allergy Therapeutics (LON:AGY) has reported it failed to determine the recommended dose in Phase II, forcing it to run another study and delaying the date at which it can start a pivotal study of its grass pollen allergy product.

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