Genmab burns MorphoSys in CD38 MM race, NuCana enters PhIII, Active Biotech cuts R&D

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. The European biotech scene rotated around two axes this week, with news from Chicago, IL and--more surprisingly--Lund, Sweden dominating the headlines. First, to Chicago, where a clutch of European biotechs released oncology trial data at ASCO. MorphoSys (ETR:MOR) posted an early look at the multiple myeloma data on MOR202 everyone has been itching to see since Celgene ($CELG) dropped the drug. While the data are solid enough, the release of results from a Phase II trial of Genmab (CPH:GEN) and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) rival anti-CD38 drug suggests MOR202 will have to shine in later phase studies if it is to capture a chunk of the market. NuCana is pushing into a similarly competitive race to market. The Scottish biotech posted Phase I/II data on its reworked version of Eli Lilly's ($LLY) Gemzar at ASCO, setting it up to embark on a multi-front late-stage trial program starting this month with a prostate cancer study. Back in Europe, the biotech gods frowned on Lund, the Swedish city that Active Biotech (STO:ACTI) and NeuroVive Pharmaceutical (STO:NVP) call home. Active Biotech unveiled plans to ax 84% of its headcount in a rapid, full-scale retreat from R&D. And NeuroVive saw its share price plummet after its lead candidate missed the primary endpoint in a Phase III trial. In France, Galapagos ($GLPG) moved its R&D teams into a 5,800-square-meter building, on which it has a 12-year, €1.2 million ($1.3 million)-per-annum net rent lease. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. MorphoSys posts solid early MOR202 data but still sees Genmab disappear into the distance

MorphoSys has released an early look at data from a Phase I/IIa trial of MOR202, the multiple myeloma drug that Celgene abandoned in March. While the results are free from major red flags, the publication of Phase II data on Genmab and Johnson & Johnson's rival anti-CD38 drug just days earlier showed the scale of the task now facing MorphoSys.

2. NuCana readies suite of PhIII cancer trials after rounding up mid-phase data

NuCana is set to start a Phase III trial of Acelarin in patients with pancreatic cancer this month, kicking off a surge into late-stage studies that will see it work on ovarian and biliary programs later this year. The Sofinnova Ventures-backed biotech is initiating the multi-front advance on the strength of Phase I/II data, details of which were presented at ASCO.

3. Active Biotech axes 84% of staff in retreat from R&D

Active Biotech has dramatically stepped up its retreat from R&D. Having dropped a pair of clinical-phase assets last year, disappointing data from a Phase III trial of tasquinimod have prompted Active Biotech to take an ax to its research operation, laying off 84% of its staff in the process.

4. NeuroVive tanks after PhIII flop sets back approval plans

A Phase III trial of NeuroVive Pharmaceutical's CicloMulsion in heart attack patients has missed its primary endpoint. And while NeuroVive is still hoping to find positives in a full analysis of the 12-month data, the setback nonetheless wiped more than 50% off the company's share price.

5. Galapagos leases one-third of Sanofi-founded biopark to consolidate French R&D operations

Galapagos is moving into new digs on the outskirts of Paris. The relocation sees 130 staff move from three locations across the Biocitech campus Sanofi founded in 2002 to a newly refurbished building on the site that houses a mix of biology and chemistry laboratories.

And more articles of note >>