Cardiorentis bags $60M as PhIII nears end; J&J backs HIV player; Novartis nears Horsham sale

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. European biotechs marked the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference by unveiling a slate of fundraising rounds. Our top stories this week involve the transfer of more than $100 million (€92 million) from the wallets of investors to the bank accounts of biotechs. Cardiorentis led the way with a $60 million round that sets it up to wrap up a Phase III trial of its drug for acute decompensated heart failure and, if the data live up to expectations, file for approval later this year. Serial private fundraiser Novimmune added $30 million to its coffers, bringing the total raised in its 18-year history up to around $245 million. The latest tranche of funding will support an ongoing Phase II trial of Novimmune's treatment for an immune system disorder. Our third fundraiser is Aelix Therapeutics, which became the latest in a string of Spanish biotechs to secure cash when it tapped Ysios Capital, Johnson & Johnson  and others for more than $12 million to take its HIV treatment through to clinical proof-of-concept. In other news, Novartis agreed to top-line terms for the sale of its former R&D site in Horsham to West Sussex County Council. The council plans to turn the site into a science park. BioLineRx inked an agreement to trial its CXCR4 antagonist BL-8040 in combination with Merck's Keytruda. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Cardiorentis raises $60M as PhIII heart failure trial nears completion

Cardiorentis has raised CHF 60 million ($60 million). The investment bolsters the biotech's bank balance at a time when it is nearing the end of a Phase III trial of its drug for acute decompensated heart failure, data from which are due to be submitted to regulators later this year.

2. Ysios, J&J back €11.5M round in Aelix to fund trials of HIV treatment

Aelix Therapeutics has raised €11.5 million ($12.6 million) to advance a therapeutic HIV candidate to clinical proof of concept. Ysios Capital, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and others backed the round, having been persuaded that Aelix's immunotherapy has the potential to be a functional cure for HIV.

3. Local council moves to buy Novartis' Horsham site with view to creating science park

Novartis ($NVS) is on the verge of offloading its former R&D site in Horsham, U.K., to the local council. The agreement of initial terms with West Sussex council comes 8 months after the University of Brighton backed out of a deal because it was unable to secure government funding.

4. Fresh investment in Novimmune brings fundraising haul up to $245M

Novimmune has tapped existing investors for CHF 30 million ($30 million) to support the advance of its pipeline, particularly a therapy for a rare immune system disorder that is making its way through Phase II. The fundraising brings the total raised by the company in its 18-year history up to $245 million.

5. BioLineRx joins immuno-oncology scrum through Keytruda combo deal

BioLineRx ($BLRX) has become the latest company to stake its claim for a spot on the burgeoning roster of immuno-oncology combinations. The small biotech is aiming to muscle into the sector by showing its CXCR4 antagonist BL-8040 can boost the effectiveness of Merck's ($MRK) Keytruda in metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

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