Life Sciences Companies Capture the Cash

by: The Burrill Report
June has been heating up for life sciences companies replenishing their coffers. Only three weeks after announcing positive mid-stage data on its endometriosis-related pain therapeutic elagolix, Neurocrine Biosciences (NASDAQ:NBIX) lined up a partner in Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) to help develop and commercialize the compound. Elagolix is a novel, first-in-class oral gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist that ultimately reduces circulating sex hormone levels.
Under the terms of their agreement, potentially worth up to $575 million for Neurocrine, Abbott will get exclusive worldwide rights to elagolix and all next-generation GnRH antagonists for women's and men's health. In return, Abbott will pay Neurocrine $75 million upfront and will fund all ongoing development activities. Neurocrine will be eligible to receive up to $500 million in additional payments based on the achievement of certain development, regulatory and commercial milestones, funding for certain internal collaboration expenses, and royalty payments on any future product sales.
Abbott is a natural partner for elagolix as it already markets Lupron, a GnRH analogue for endometriosis that brings in about $800 million a year in revenue. “Extensive preclinical and clinical experience with elagolix suggests this drug could be an important advance for women with endometriosis and uterine fibroids, highly prevalent conditions where there is a need for new treatments,” says John Leonard, senior vice president, pharmaceuticals, research and development, Abbott. “This agreement enhances Abbott's late stage pipeline, with the potential for additional compounds in earlier stage development.”
In the same week, Neurocrine Biosciences signed a worldwide collaboration agreement with Boehringer Ingelheim to research and develop small molecule GPR119 agonists for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and other indications. The companies will work together to identify and advance candidates into pre-clinical development and Boehringer Ingelheim will be responsible for the global development and commercialization of potential GPR119 agonist products resulting from the collaboration.
Neurocrine Biosciences will receive $10 million upfront, research funding to support discovery efforts and will be eligible to receive up to $225 million in milestone payments based on the achievement of development, regulatory and commercial goals as well as royalty payments on any future product sales.
“Combining Boehringer Ingelheim's research and development expertise in metabolic disorders with Neurocrine's unique capabilities in small molecule discovery for GPCRs provides a strong platform for development of new therapies for type 2 diabetes,” says Dimitri E. Grigoriadis, vice president of research at Neurocrine, in a statement.
Redwood City, California-based OncoMed Pharmaceuticals lined up Bayer Schering Pharma (OTC:BYERF) as a strategic partner to develop anti-cancer stem cell therapeutics targeting the Wnt signaling pathway. Bayer and OncoMed will share technology and know-how to discover and develop small molecule inhibitors of the pathway. Bayer will pay OncoMed $40 million upfront and will have the option to exclusively license and take over development of up to five antibody and protein therapeutic product candidates arising from the partnership at any point up to the completion of phase 1 testing. The collaboration includes OncoMed’s lead Wnt pathway antibody, which is intended to enter clinical testing in 2011.
OncoMed will also be eligible for milestone payments for each candidate Bayer licenses based on its successful development through late stage clinical trials and regulatory approval of up to $387.5 million for each biotherapeutic and $112 million for each small molecule. OncoMed will receive royalties on sales of commercialized products and may co-develop biologic therapeutics with Bayer.
“The development of anti-cancer stem cell therapeutics together with OncoMed is a highly innovative approach with the potential to perfectly complement our oncology portfolio,” says Andreas Busch, Bayer’s head of global drug discovery and a member of the Board. “Anti-cancer stem cell research could turn out as one of the missing pieces in today's cancer therapy.”
Venture capital fundraising reached fever pitch as venture capitalists, private equity firms, and companies poured over $400 million into private companies during the week. Castlight Health raised $60 million in series C funding, one of the top venture rounds of 2010. New investors Morgan Stanley Investment Management, The Wellcome Trust, U.S. Venture Partners, and Cleveland Clinic joined existing investors Maverick Capital, Oak Investment Partners and Venrock to fund Castlight’s commercial rollout of its system that empowers consumers with information to effectively navigate the health care system.
San Francisco-based Castlight works with companies to provide employees an individual level view of their health care benefits and costs through a web-based service so they are aware of out-of-pocket costs, alerted about cost saving opportunities, and offered additional information about physicians and procedures.
“The drive toward patient responsibility in health care combined with the complete lack of information to support that transition has landed Castlight Health in the middle of the perfect storm,” says Bryan Roberts, partner at Venrock and co-founder of Castlight Health. “The company is empowering individuals to take control of their healthcare expenses – something that has eluded this country to date. This is a huge market, with extraordinary and palpable customer demand.”
Molecular diagnostics maker Gen-Probe (NASDAQ:GPRO) made a $50 million strategic investment in Menlo Park, California-based genomic sequencing company Pacific Biosciences, and is part of a larger series F private round of financing. In addition to the investment, the companies will work together to explore co-development of new integrated clinical diagnostics systems based on Pacific Biosciences' disruptive technology platform for the real-time detection of biological events at single molecule resolution and Gen-Probe's expertise in diagnostics.
Pacific Biosciences' SMRT DNA sequencing enables the observation of natural DNA synthesis by a DNA polymerase as it occurs. The approach is based on eavesdropping on a single DNA polymerase molecule working in a continuous, progessive manner.
Gen-Probe and Pacific Biosciences will initially collaborate on an exclusive basis for up to 30 months, with the goal of developing a longer-term, preferred business relationship aimed toward improving the diagnosis of human diseases.
Portland, Oregon-based Home Dialysis Plus, a developer of home hemodialysis devices for patients suffering from end-stage renal disease, secured a $50 million equity commitment from private equity firm Warburg Pincus. The commitment will allow the company to further the development of a portable dialysis system that is intended to allow patients to experience the benefits of frequent dialysis, a treatment regime that more closely simulates natural kidney processes and has been shown to improve patients’ quality of life.
Princeton, New Jersey-based Agile Therapeutics scored $45 million in series B preferred stock financing co-led by Investor Growth Capital and Care Capital, with strong participation from ProQuest Investments. Kaiser Permanente Ventures and Novitas Capital also joined the financing round. The funding will allow Agile to complete late-stage clinical development and file for marketing approval for its lead contraceptive patch, AG200-15, and to advance Agile’s second contraceptive patch, AG1000, into mid-stage clinical development. Agile’s patches are being developed to provide women with a convenient and easy-to-use alternative to their current means of contraception.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based FoldRx Pharmaceuticals closed a $29 million financing to advance tafamidis, a disease modifying therapy for TTR amyloid polyneuropathy, a progressive and life-threatening genetic neurodegenerative disease that affects thousands of patients worldwide, to market. New investors Novo Ventures and Morgenthaler Ventures join existing investors Healthcare Ventures, Fidelity Biosciences, TPG Biotechnology, Alta Partners, and Novartis Venture Funds in the financing.
Vancouver, British Columbia-based Aquinox Pharmaceuticals secured $25 million in a series B financing led by Ventures West Capital with participation by new investor Pfizer Venture Investments and existing investors Johnson & Johnson Development, Baker Brothers Investments, and BC Advantage Funds. Proceeds will allow Aquinox to advance its lead candidate, a first-in-class small molecule allosteric modulator, for the treatment of inflammatory disease and cancer.

Global Venture Financings
Company Location Amount Raised ($M)
Principal Focus
Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Vancouver, BC, Canada $25.00 Inflammatory; cancer
Andromeda Biotech Yavne, Israel $17.50 Type 1 diabetes
Gliknik Baltimore, MD n/a Cancer; autoimmune
Galera Therapeutics St Louis, MO n/a Cancer side effects
IRX Therapeutics New York, NY $8.00 Cancer vaccines
BioScale Cambridge, MA $25.00 Protein analytics
Agile Therapeutics Princeton, NJ $45.00 Women's health
FoldRx Pharmaceuticals Cambridge, MA $29.00 Neurology therapeutics
Akebia Therapeutics Cincinnati, OH $5.00 Vascular; anemia
FerroKin BioSciences San Francisco, CA $12.00 Iron overload
Predictive Biosciences Lexington, MA $25.00 Cancer diagnostics
Home Dialysis Plus Portland, OR $50.00 Dialysis devices
Exogenesis Billerica, MA $3.70 Tools/Technology
Rib-X Pharmaceuticals New Haven, CT $5.50 Antibiotics
Pacific Biosciences Menlo Park, CA $50.00 Genomics
Corridor Pharmaceuticals West Conshohocken, PA $15.00 Vascular therapetuics
Ncontract Surgical Morrisville, NC $3.00 Cardiovascular medical devices
Cardiovascular Simulation Mountain View, CA $10.00 Medical software
Virobay Menlo Park, CA $10.00 Antivirals
Daktari Diagnostics Cambridge, MA $3.70 HIV diagnostics
Boston Biomedical Norwood, MA $2.00 Cancer therapeutics
Access Scientific San Diego, CA $2.60 Vascular medical devices
Cylene Pharmaceuticals San Diego, CA $6.10 Cancer therapeutics
Ridge Diagnostics San Diego, CA $0.58 Neurology diagnostics
Castlight Health San Francisco, CA $60.00 Consumer digital health
Funding/Contracting Agency
Amount ($M)
Principal Focus
Enerkem (Canada) Climate Change and Emissions Management $1.80 Renewable fuels
Daktari Diagnostics Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation $0.60 HIV diagnostics
INEOS (United Kingdom) United Kingdom Department for Energy and Climate Change $10.80 Renewable fuels
Total Grants $13.20
Raised $M

Financing Type
Biofrontera (Germany) Frankfurt:B8F $1.50 PIPE
Sernova (Canada) TSX-V:SVA $0.14 PIPE
Aeterna Zentaris (Canada) AEZS $12.00 PIPE
Pharmacyclics PCYC $52.00 PIPE--RDO
Soligenix OTC:SNGX $5.16 PIPE
New Generation Biofuels NGBF $0.50 PIPE
SafeStitch Medical SFES.OB $5.00 PIPE
Discovery Laboratories DSCO $10.00 Follow on
Genzyme GENZ $1,000.00 Debt
Teva Pharmaceuticals (Israel) TEVA $2,500.00 Debt
GTC Biotherapeutics GTCB $7.00 Convertible debt financing
Cytori Therapeutics CYTX $20.00 Secured loan facility
Discovery Laboratories DSCO $35.00 CEFF
Celsion CLSN $15.00 CEFF
ProUroCare Medical OTCPK:PUMD $0.89 Private placement of debt
NON-US $2,513.64
Deal Value
in $M

MP Biomedicals ICPbio International (New Zealand) n/a Tools/Technology
Albany Molecular Research Hyaluron Contract Manufacturing $27.00 Contract manufacturing
Minapharm Pharmaceuticals (Egypt) ProBioGen (Germany) $37.62 Cell line development
Sanofi-Aventis Canada (France) Canderm Pharma (Canada) n/a Skin care
AssureImmune Banco de Cordon Umbilical (Mexico) n/a Cord blood banking
Arginetix Immune Control n/a Vascular diseases
InfuSystem Holdings First Biomedical $17.20 Tools/Technology
Covidien (Ireland) Somanetics $299.00 Tools/Technology
Cipla (India) Mab Pharm (India) $65.00 Biosimilars
Cipla (India) Bio Mabs (China) n/a Biosimilars
Company/Licensee Company/Licenser Deal Value
in $M
Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (China) Chindex International $30.00 Medical devices joint venture
Qiagen (Germany) Genome Diagnostics (Netherlands) n/a Molecular diagnostics partnership
Promega Cellular Dynamics International n/a Diagnostics partnership
C. R. Bard Covalon Technologies (Canada) $0.50 Technology license
Genmab (Denmark) ExonHit Therapeutics (France) n/a Breast cancer therapeutics license
Pall New Brunswick Scientific n/a Bioreactor development partnership
Amylin Pharmaceuticals BioSeek (Asterand-United Kingdom) n/a Drug discovery collaboration
Bristol-Myers Squibb ICON and PAREXEL n/a Clinical development partnership
DV Biologics System Biosciences n/a Stem cell partnership
Lundbeck (Denmark) Orasi Medical n/a Neurology partnership
GP Pharm (Spain) Hemispherx Biopharma n/a Chronic fatigue syndrome therapeutic license
SIRS-Lab (Germany) Analytik Jena (Germany) n/a Diagnostics collaboration
Helicon Therapeutics Sapient Discovery n/a Drug discovery collaboration
Oncodesign Biotechnology (France) Janssen Pharmaceutica (J&J) n/a Chemistry technology license
Norgine (Netherlands) Tranzyme Pharma $158.00 Gastrointestinal drug license
Abbott Laboratories Neurocrine Biosciences $575.00 Women's health therapeutics license
Boehringer Ingelheim (Germany) Neurocrine Biosciences $235.00 Diabetes therapeutics collaboration
Bayer Schering Pharma (German) OncoMed Pharmaceuticals $427.50 Stem cell therapies alliance
Novozymes (Denmark) Lignol Energy (Canada) n/a Renewable fuels partnership
Unifi SunBelt Biofuels n/a Energy crop development joint venture
Almirall (Spain) Basilea Pharmaceutica (Switzerland) $32.41 Dermatology distribution agreement