Big Pharma-backed Merus advances data date; France upsizes VC fund; PhII data sinks Genticel

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. This week brought more evidence that European biotechs are willing to brave potentially choppy IPO waters across the Atlantic, with Merus, Mapi Pharma and Motif Bio all advancing their plans. Mapi Pharma, which tried and failed to go public twice in 2014, is the most advanced of the three, having set terms for a $50 million (€46 million) IPO on Nasdaq. In setting terms, Mapi Pharma has edged ahead of Merus in proceedings. Merus, which lists Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Pfizer among its investors, has yet to set terms despite having filed to go public last year. But the immuno-oncology player is continuing to update its F-1, with the latest version revealing it has shaved months off the date on which it expects to deliver solid tumor data. Motif Bio's IPO plans are at a much earlier stage. The antibiotic player got the ball rolling this week by appointing an investment bank. In France, the biotech community received news of a newly inflated source of funding and yet more evidence of why drug development shops represent risky investments. The funding source came in the form of a government-led investment vehicle, which was pitched last year but has now tripled in size. And this week's cautionary tale involves Genticel, a French biotech that was rocked by a missed primary endpoint in the interim analysis of a Phase II trial. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Merus pulls forward target date for solid tumor data, reiterates intent to file IPO

Merus has shaved months off the date on which it expects to release data from a Phase I/II trial of its lead bispecific antibody in HER2-expressing solid tumors. The Dutch immuno-oncology player, which lists Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Novartis ($NVS) and Pfizer ($PFE) among its investors, provided the new timeline in an update to the paperwork it filed ahead of a planned Nasdaq IPO.

2. France triples size of biotech investment fund following industry criticism

The French government is planning to triple the size of its biotech investment fund after the industry balked at the initial proposal. Officials now intend to hive off €340 million ($380 million) for the fund, more than three times the amount earmarked when they first floated the idea last year.

3. Genticel crashes after HPV immunotherapy misses interim efficacy endpoint

A human papillomavirus (HPV)-focused immunotherapy in development at Genticel (EPA:GTCL) has failed to outperform the placebo in an interim review of data from a Phase II trial. The news spooked investors, triggering an almost 30% collapse in the share price of Genticel on Euronext Paris.

4. Mapi Pharma swings for $50M haul as oft-delayed IPO nears D-Day

Mapi Pharma has set the terms for its latest crack at listing on Nasdaq. The biotech, which set terms on its first IPO attempt back in April 2014, is aiming to round up around $50 million (€46 million) to bankroll development of its once-a-month version of Teva's ($TEVA) blockbuster Copaxone.

5. Antibiotic player Motif Bio sounds out investor interest in Nasdaq IPO

Motif Bio has appointed an investment bank to look into raising cash in the U.S., potentially through an IPO on Nasdaq. The action, like many taken by European biotechs down the years, was prompted by a desire to tap into the deep pool of capital managed by specialist biotech investors in the U.S., while also trying to close a perceived valuation gap between Motif Bio (LSE:MTFB) and its Nasdaq-traded peers.

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