After GSK deal, Novartis ends Genmab drug PhIII; ITM bags €20M; KDEV rethink enables big round

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Our top stories this week are about endings and new beginnings. Both are encapsulated in the latest developments in future of Arzerra, the Genmab (CPH:GEN) drug that Novartis ($NVS) recently acquired from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK). Having weighed up its options, Novartis is halting a Phase III trial in pemphigus vulgaris to go all in on the big prize: relapsing multiple sclerosis. A Phase III trial is scheduled to start in the second half of the year. Strongbridge Biopharma ($SBBP) engaged in a pipeline rejig of its own, handing back rights to an acromegaly drug it bought last year to funnel more cash into a Phase III trial of another asset. Karolinska Development (STO:KDEV) freed its portfolio firm Aprea from such financial constraints by dropping its previous resistance to working with syndicates of investors. By casting its fundraising net beyond KDEV, Aprea was able to haul in the biggest private round in Sweden in a decade. ITM Isotopen Technologien München AG raised money for its pipeline, too, pocketing €20 million for clinical trials of targeted radionuclide therapies. In the U.K., Minister for Life Sciences George Freeman welcomed the publication of a toolkit designed to help turn Big Pharma campuses into biotech hubs. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Novartis stops PhIII trial of Genmab's Arzerra after buying rights from GSK

Novartis has stopped a Phase III trial of Genmab's Arzerra in pemphigus vulgaris patients. The decision, which comes seven months after Novartis agreed to buy the rights to Arzerra in autoimmune indications from GlaxoSmithKline, will result in a focusing of attention on the testing of the monoclonal antibody as a treatment for relapsing multiple sclerosis.

2. ITM raises €20M for clinical development of targeted radionuclide therapies

ITM Isotopen Technologien München AG (ITM) has raised €20 million ($22 million) for clinical trials of its targeted radionuclide therapies. The round, which is the first ITM has publicized, comes 7 months after the radiopharmaceutical specialist in-licensed a potential therapy and diagnostic for bone metastases.

3. Largest Swedish fundraising in a decade marks milestone in new era at KDEV

Karolinska Development has laid down a marker in its ongoing attempts to pivot away from its previously isolated model of life science investing. The milestone relates to a Series B round by one its portfolio companies, which was able to pull off the largest fundraising in Sweden in the past decade because of KDEV's newfound willingness to bring other financiers on board.

4. Building on experience at ex-AstraZeneca and Pfizer sites, U.K. sets out vision for biotech hubs

The United Kingdom is planning to establish "life science opportunity zones" to help ex-Big Pharma campuses become hubs for startups. George Freeman, the U.K. minister for life sciences, has thrown his weight behind the concept, which forms part of a broader initiative to build on the experience of repurposing Alderley Park and Sandwich.

5. Strongbridge returns recently acquired asset to eke more months out of cash reserves

Strongbridge Biopharma has returned the rights to Phase II acromegaly drug COR-004 just 10 months after acquiring the product. The transatlantic biotech offloaded the rare disease program as part of a pipeline prioritization intended to stretch its cash reserves beyond the end of the Phase III trial of its lead candidate, COR-003.

And more articles of note >>