Norway opens $120M cancer hub; Summit hits goal in DMD trial; Sobi rises on long-term data

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Oncology has long been a strong suit for Norway. With a 60-year old cancer registry, the legacy of breakout biotech success Algeta and a clutch of immuno-oncology upstarts to its name, the country has the credentials to make an impact on R&D. This week, a long-gestating attempt to corral these resources into a joined-up assault on cancer got underway with the opening of the NOK 1 billion ($120 million) Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park. Across the border in Sweden, investors cheered the publication of long-term data from a trial of Swedish Orphan Biovitrum's (STO:SOBI) Biogen ($BIIB)-partnered hemophilia B drug, Alprolix. Fellow Nordic biopharma Lundbeck (CPH:LUN) pleased investors with news of a different sort. The Danish drugmaker committed to a rejig of its early-stage assets and R&D operations as part of a sweeping cost-cutting agenda. Shares in Lundbeck rose 19%. News in the United Kingdom was more mixed. Summit Therapeutics ($SMMT) came through a Phase Ib trial of its Duchenne muscular dystrophy candidate, setting the stage for it to start figuring out whether its utrophin-focused approach works in a mid-stage study. But the broader, longer-term news coming out of the U.K. was less rosy. With the Medical Research Council set to lose the money it makes from patents on monoclonal antibodies, former scientists fear the organization is facing a funding shortfall. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Norway steps up immuno-oncology ambitions with opening of $120M park

Norway has opened the doors at its NOK 1 billion ($120 million) bet on cancer R&D. The investment has enabled the creation of Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, a site housing hospitals, Big Pharma and an incubator for the next generation of Norwegian oncology startups.

2. Summit rolls DMD drug toward PhII after coming through early test

Summit Therapeutics has posted top line data on a Phase Ib trial of its Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) drug, SMT C1100. And with the candidate living up to expectations in terms of therapeutic plasma levels, the drugmaker is preparing to advance into an open label Phase II trial.

3. Sobi shares tick up as data support long-term use of hemophilia B drug

Swedish Orphan Biovitrum has posted data to support the long-term use of its Biogen-partnered hemophilia B drug, Alprolix. And with Sobi now set to commercialize the drug in its home territory if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) looks favourably on its submission, shares in the company were buoyed by the news.

4. Lundbeck to advance schizophrenia drug solo after taking an ax to early-stage pipeline

Lundbeck has initiated a rejig of its pipeline, taking an ax to undisclosed early-stage assets in order to funnel cash into what it sees as its most promising candidates. The schizophrenia drug Lu AF35700 is among the beneficiaries of the reshuffle, with Lundbeck using its reorganized balance sheet to advance the therapy through development unpartnered.

5. MAb patent cliff threatens to blow a hole in U.K. research budget

The United Kingdom's Medical Research Council (MRC) is bracing itself for a big hit to its budget. For years, MRC has benefited from income relating to its discovery of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in the 1970s, but the upcoming wave of patent expirations is set to disrupt this cash cow.

And more articles of note >>