EuroBiotech Report: £320M fund backs clutch of new U.K. biotechs

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Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Oxford Sciences Innovation helped three spinouts from the University of Oxford get started. The fund, which raised £320 million ($462 million) last year from Google Ventures, Neil Woodford and others, joined with former Pharmacyclics executives and J. Craig Venter’s Human Longevity to get OxStem off the ground, while also making £10 million investments in EvOx and Vaccitech. Across the border in Wales, Nobel Prize winner Sir Martin EvansCell Therapy pocketed £12.5 million from Daiichi Sankyo in return for the Japanese rights to its regenerative heart failure medicine. Money flowed in and out of the Swiss biotech scene, too. Novimmune was on the receiving end. The antibody player raised CHF 30 million from existing investors for the second time this year. Vifor Pharma, meanwhile, was paying out. The organization struck a pair of deals to pad its pipeline ahead of a planned separation from its parent company. In the Netherlands, Merus moved forward with its long-gestating plan to list on Nasdaq. The cancer biotech, which lists Novartis, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer among its investors, is aiming to raise $65 million, around half of which is expected to come from its existing backers. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Regenerative medicine upstart leads banner week for Oxford spinouts

Oxford Sciences Innovation has contributed to a banner week for University of Oxford spinouts. The £320 million ($462 million) fund, which lists Google Ventures and Neil Woodford among its backers, participated in a £37 million flurry of investment in Oxford newcos, including a £16.9 million round in a startup with aspirations to unlock the regenerative capabilities of the human body.

2. Cell Therapy offloads Japanese rights to heart regen medicine to Daiichi

Cell Therapy Ltd. (CTL) has sold the Japanese rights for its cardiac regeneration medicine Heartcel to Daiichi Sankyo. CTL, which was cofounded by Nobel laureate Sir Martin Evans, is pocketing £12.5 million ($18.1 million) upfront and potentially more in milestones in exchange for the rights to the cell therapy.

3. Novimmune raises CHF 30M in second financing of 2016

Novimmune has raised money for the second time in 5 months. The latest CHF 30 million ($31 million) investment brings the total raised in 2016 up to CHF 60 million, a sum Novimmune plans to use to hustle its treatment for the immune disorder hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) through a Phase II/III trial.

4. Vifor pays $110M upfront for EU rights to late-phase renal disease drugs

Vifor Pharma has secured the rights for a pair of late-phase renal disease drugs. The deals, which see Vifor and its part-owned franchise hand over $110 million (€97 million) in cash upfront, continue a period of quickfire checkbook pipeline building for the company, which is trying to create a portfolio of near- and long-term prospects ahead of a planned split from its parent company.

5. Big Pharma-backed Merus edges toward $65M Nasdaq IPO

Merus is edging toward its long-gestating $65 million (€57 million) Nasdaq IPO. The cancer specialist, which lists Novartis ($NVS), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Pfizer ($PFE) among its largest investors, plans to build the IPO on the support of its existing backers, which are expected to buy half of the offered shares.

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