Roche backs €19M CNS round; CRUK puts £20M into cancer vax; In womb stem cell trial to start

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. The list of the biggest Spanish biotech VC rounds ever continued its rapid evolution this week. Having driven Sanifit to the top of the leaderboard last month, Ysios Capital led a €19.4 million ($21.7 million) investment in Minoryx Therapeutics with the support of Roche Venture Fund. Minoryx will use the cash to move its treatment for a rare neurodegenerative disease to clinical validation. Cancer Research UK upped its financing activities, too. The nonprofit is set to pump £100 million into research to solve some of the "Grand Challenges" facing oncology R&D, starting with a £20 million push to develop a preventative vaccine for nonviral cancers. CRUK is far from the only European organization thinking big. Karolinska Institutet advanced an ambitious program of its own, outlining a plan to start the first in womb stem cell therapy trial next year. Other organizations had more prosaic concerns. Gamida Cell pocketed $5 million from Novartis ($NVS) to keep its bank balance ticking over as it heads toward a Phase III trial. And Nordic Nanovector (OSE:NANO) saw its stock drop 30% after investors got a look at its new, far longer clinical trial program. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. Roche backs €19M round to move Minoryx's CNS drug into the clinic

Roche Venture Fund has contributed to a big day for another Spanish biotech. Minoryx Therapeutics is the latest of the country's biotechs to cash in, tapping Roche's VC unit and others for €19.4 million ($21.7 million) to move its treatment for a rare neurodegenerative disease into clinical trials.

2. CRUK commits £20M to prophylactic cancer vaccine research

Cancer Research UK is placing a £20 million ($31 million) bet on the advance of immuno-oncology leading to development of prophylactic cancer vaccines. The funding will go to whichever research group can persuade CRUK it has what it takes to create a vaccine that prevents nonviral cancers.

3. Karolinska Institutet readies first in utero stem cell trial

Karolinska Institutet is preparing to start the first ever clinical trial in which stem cells will be injected into unborn babies. The research team hopes the administration of fetal stem cells to babies while still in the womb will prevent the development of the brittle-bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta.

4. Nordic Nanovector sinks 30% after pushing back R&D timelines

Investors have taken a chunk out of Nordic Nanovector's market cap after getting a look at its rejigged development plan. The revision to the clinical trial strategy has pushed back a planned regulatory filing for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma drug Betalutin from 2017 to 2019.

5. Gamida Cell pockets $5M from Novartis ahead of mooted financing round

Novartis has come good on its promise to continue collaborating with Gamida Cell despite twice walking away from takeover agreements. The Big Pharma handed over $5 million (€4.4 million) for a 2.5% stake in Gamida Cell this week--and promised to invest a further $10 million if its collaborator wraps up an equity financing by the end of 2017.

And more articles of note >>