Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. We start this week with Roche, which took a step toward challenging Biogen and Novartis for the spinal muscular atrophy market by bringing risdiplam through another late-phase test. Elsewhere, European biotechs rased cash, with Merck KGaA spinout iOnctura reeling in €15 million and PDC*line Pharma securing €13.9 million. Targovax outlined plans to test ONCOS-102 in combination with a checkpoint inhibitor, despite early-phase data leaving scope to question the efficacy of the drug. Bayer CEO Werner Baumann offered his views on gene editing. And more. — Nick Taylor
1. Roche's risdiplam clears another phase 3 SMA trial
Roche’s risdiplam has come through another late-phase test, triggering improvements in the motor skills of infants with type 1 spinal muscular atrophy. The clinical success comes months before the FDA is set to decide whether to approve the survival motor neuron-2 splicing modifier.
2. Merck KGaA-spinout iOnctura raises cash for cancer trials
Merck KGaA spinout iOnctura has raised a €15 million ($17 million) series A round to support an early-phase solid tumor trial. The company is gearing up to generate data on PI3Kδ inhibitor IOA-244 in humans while hustling a second candidate through IND-enabling studies.
3. Korean VCs pile into PDC*line to bankroll NSCLC vaccine trial
PDC*line Pharma has turned to Korean investors to help raise a €13.9 million ($15.5 million) series B round. The money will fund a phase 1/2 trial of a therapeutic vaccine in patients with non-small cell lung cancer that got underway last year.
4. Targovax plans checkpoint combo trial after posting early data on oncolytic virus
Targovax has shared data from an early-phase trial that administered ONCOS-102 to mesothelioma patients. The response rate was lower in the ONCOS-102 arm than in the control cohort, but Targovax saw positives elsewhere, leading it to outline plans to pair the drug with a checkpoint inhibitor.
5. 'Does intrinsically good and bad technology exist?' Bayer CEO says no: Davos 2020
Bayer CEO Werner Baumann highlighted “less and less trust in society for advances in technology” as a hurdle for pharma companies working on gene editing during a panel on genetic modification and engineering that took place at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
And more articles of note>>