Big shot investor plans £100M EU biotech fund, Genmab up on PhII data, J&J inks U.K. RA deal

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. After years of relying heavily on Neil Woodford's checkbook, early-stage British and European biotechs could soon have another big-name investor to tap for cash. Jim Mellon--a man worth around £800 million ($1.2 billion)--is preparing to get deeper into biotech with a £100 million fund. A panel set up by the United Kingdom government dangled the prospect of ready cash in front of early-stage antibiotic biotechs--a particularly hard-up group--by proposing the creation of a global innovation fund. The panel thinks it will take "much less" than $75.6 billion to fix the antimicrobial resistance mess. Genmab (CPH:GEN) posted Phase II data in multiple myeloma that got investors salivating at the prospect of a fast approval and blockbuster sales, only for a change in policy at GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) to sour their week somewhat. A U.K. government health institute struck a deal with Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) that hinted at how the country sees its relationship to pharma evolving. A mixed bag of M&A figures left a rare black mark against a bumper 2014 for European biotechs. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Famed investor Mellon plans £100M fund for small biotechs

Jim Mellon wants to put his theory that British and European biotechs are undervalued to the test. The famed investor is trying to raise up to £100 million ($150 million) for a new fund dedicated to small biotechs in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Read more >>

2. Genmab stock jumps after PhII cancer data raise hopes of speedy approval

Phase II data from Genmab have ratcheted up expectations for a fast-track approval of its Johnson & Johnson-partnered treatment for double refractory multiple myeloma. Analysts see the data as strong enough to bring the CD38 monoclonal antibody to market in the first half of 2016. Read more >>

3. J&J teams with U.K. to probe molecular causes of RA drug failures

The United Kingdom's National Institute for Health Research has teamed up with Johnson & Johnson's Janssen to figure out why anti-TNF drugs are ineffective in some rheumatoid arthritis patients. J&J is funding the collaboration, which is indicative of how the U.K. wants to embed its healthcare infrastructure in drug development. Read more >>

4. U.K. panel calls for innovation fund to break antibiotic discovery dam

A panel set up by the United Kingdom government to review antimicrobial resistance has called for the creation of a global innovation fund to spur the discovery of new drugs. The idea is to counter years of underinvestment by public and private players in basic to mid-stage scientific research. Read more >>

5. Mixed M&A figures a rare low in Europe's upbeat 2014

Analysts have identified an area of European biopharma in which 2014 was a middling year: M&A. The data show that while deals involving U.S. biotechs hit new highs, the renewed optimism in Europe has yet to translate into the signing of checks. Read more >>

And more >>