Novartis makes Israel a priority, U.K. dreams up Alzheimer's R&D hub, Shire defends tax model

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Novartis ($NVS) is getting deeper into the Israeli biotech scene. The Swiss Big Pharma made Israel a priority and tasked BioLineRx ($BLRX) with keeping tabs on local startups after realizing it was underexposed to the country. Alzheimer's Research UK thinks it knows where it will find the next dementia drug: the "golden triangle" of Cambridge, London and Oxford. The nonprofit has handed universities in each city £10 million ($15 million) and tasked them with building Alzheimer's drug discovery dream teams. Casualties from the waves of Big Pharma cuts to U.K. CNS R&D are expected to feature heavily. Shire ($SHPG) CEO Flemming Ornskov defended the company's much-discussed tax model by arguing it allows more money to be invested in R&D. Quantum Genomics (EPA:ALQGC) became the latest European biotech to nail a successful local IPO, in part because of massive demand from individual investors. Ferring Pharmaceuticals picked up a pair of Phase III-ready orthopedic assets from BioSurface Engineering Technologies. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Novartis makes concerted push into Israeli biotech startup scene

Over the past year, Novartis has struck a pair of deals in Israel, snagging an option to buy Gamida Cell and a stake in BioLineRx. The geographic proximity of the two targets is no coincidence--Novartis is in the middle of a concerted push into the Israeli biotech startup scene.

2. Nonprofit gives £30M to turn 'golden triangle' into Alzheimer's drug discovery hub

Nonprofit Alzheimer's Research UK has unveiled a £30 million ($46 million) push to turn the heartland of British life sciences into a hotbed of R&D for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. The plan is to task ex-pharma staffers and other researchers with creating a pipeline of clinical-phase assets from within labs at universities in Cambridge, London and Oxford.

3. Shire touts R&D benefits in defense of tax model

Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov has come out fighting against vocal critics of the company's tax model. As Ornskov sees it, Shire's tax structure is fully legal, similar to the model used by around 500 companies and beneficial to patients.

4. Quantum Genomics sees stock soar after oversubscribed IPO

Strong interest from individuals in France has helped Quantum Genomics blast past its IPO targets. The open-price offering was almost 15 times oversubscribed as individuals flocked to the biotech to finance the advance of its blood pressure drug into clinical proof-of-concept trials.

5. Ferring bags PhIII assets to beef up orthopedic pipeline

Ferring Pharmaceuticals has snapped up the assets of BioSurface Engineering Technologies to add a pair of Phase III-ready orthopedic candidates to its pipeline. Both treatments are designed to improve bone repair.

And more >>