Galapagos targets RA deal by year end; French dwarfism firm bags $35M; Verona eyes PhIIb

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Having been rejected by AbbVie ($ABBV) on Friday, Galapagos ($GLPG) hit the gas on its partnering strategy this week. Several potential partners are already giving the data the once-over, potentially putting Galapagos in a position to meet its goal of having a new deal in place by the end of the year. Galapagos' compatriot Apitope had a less tumultuous week. The Merck Serono-partnered biotech raised €12 million ($13 million), giving it the financial clout to advance treatments for Factor VIII intolerance and Graves' disease into the clinic. Therachon also tapped investors for cash, parting OrbiMed and others from $35 million to finance the progress of its dwarfism treatment to clinical proof of concept. Verona Pharma (LSE:VRP) has a trip to the funding font on the horizon, too. Having posted positive data from a trial of its chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drug, the British biotech is gearing up for a Phase IIb study. Verona will need to source additional cash to complete the trial. Oasmia Pharmaceutical (STO:OASM) is nearing a fundraising event of its own. The Swedish biotech is set to test how receptive Nasdaq investors are to IPOs. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Galapagos pushing to find partner to replace AbbVie by year end

Galapagos is looking to bounce back quickly from AbbVie's decision to walk away from their rheumatoid arthritis alliance. The aim is to have a new partnership deal in place by the end of the year, giving Galapagos the support it needs to go head-to-head with ally-turned-rival AbbVie in the scrap for the rheumatoid arthritis market.

2. OrbiMed leads $35M round to push dwarfism startup to POC

OrbiMed has joined with New Enterprise Associates and Versant Ventures to funnel $35 million (€31 million) into a French startup that is developing a treatment for a common form of dwarfism. The sizable Series A round will support the advance of the program to clinical proof of concept.

3. Verona sets sights on PhIIb after COPD drug comes through early trial

Verona Pharma has come through one of the last major barriers between it and the start of a Phase IIb trial of its chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) drug. The news means that, after years of largely unsuccessful R&D into phosphodiesterase inhibitors, another company is nearly ready to test a product from the class in a late-phase trial.

4. Apitope raises €12M for autoimmune pipeline, commits to HQ relocation

Apitope has raised €12 million ($13 million) to advance its lead candidates into the clinic. The Merck Serono-partnered autoimmune specialist will funnel the cash into the advance of in-house peptides for the treatment of Factor VIII intolerance in hemophilia A patients and Graves' disease.

5. Oasmia adds warrants to sweeten Nasdaq IPO deal as closing date nears

Oasmia Pharmaceutical has made another change to its upcoming Nasdaq IPO. The nanotechnology specialist is now planning to hand out one warrant for every two shares it sells in the IPO, positioning it to boost its fundraising haul by more than 60% if investors take up the option to buy stock at the predefined price.

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