By Marie Daghlian
Optimism ran high at the annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco this week, a marked turnaround from last year when there was hope, but also a lot of uncertainty. While biotech executives were keenly aware that investor appetite for risk remains tepid, they seemed eager to tout the promise of their development programs to address unmet healthcare needs. Meanwhile, several big pharma companies emphasized the growing importance of emerging markets while not forgetting to reassure the audience that innovation is still a key element for sustaining their business models.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) looked to Epizyme Therapeutics as a potential source of innovation. The companies announced a strategic alliance to discover, develop and market novel small molecule therapeutics targeting histone methyltransferases, an important class of epigenetic enzymes, for the treatment of cancer and other diseases.
Epizyme will use its discovery platform, including its proprietary chemical library, expertise, and intellectual property, to discover and develop therapeutics against an undisclosed set of targets. The privately-held Massachusetts-base company will receive an upfront payment of $20 million, as well as research funding. Epizyme is eligible to receive more than $630 million in total milestone payments if medicines are commercialized for all targets in the collaboration, plus double-digit royalties on net sales of products resulting from the alliance. Epizyme will be primarily responsible for research up to development candidate selection for each target in the collaboration, and GSK will be solely responsible for development and commercialization [See story].
Finnish drug developer BioTie Therapies said it would acquire privately-held California-based Synosia Therapeutics in a $121.5 million all share deal to create a leader in central nervous system drug development. The combined company will have a pipeline of nine clinical-stage drug candidates including nalmefene, Biotie's late-stage product candidate for the treatment of alcohol dependence, which recently reported positive results from the first two trials conducted by its partner Lundbeck and is on track for submission for approval in Europe in the second half of 2011.
Synosia brings a pipeline that includes two mid-stage drug candidates: one for Parkinson’s disease, and a potential first-in-class hydroxyphenyl-pyruvate dioxygenase inhibitor intended for movement disorders. Synosia also recently announced a partnership with UCB Pharma to develop these compounds that included a $20 million equity investment and has potential for $725 million in milestone payments plus royalties.
NextWave Pharmaceuticals closed a $45 million series C financing round co-led by new investors Panorama Capital and Bay City Capital. Kearny Venture Partners also participated in the financing as well as current investors Aisling Capital, Fidelity Biosciences, Sofinnova Ventures, and Vivo Ventures.
NextWave is a specialty pharma with a proprietary drug delivery technology primarily focused on the development and commercialization of products for the treatment of cardiovascular and CNS diseases. It will use the funds to commercialize Nexiclon XR, its recently launched treatment of hypertension, expand its CNS portfolio, and prepare for the introduction of a novel extended-release liquid methylphenidate for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, currently under review by the FDA.
Connecticut-based Rib-X Pharmaceuticals raised $20 million to support ongoing development of its broad spectrum antibiotics pipeline, including late-stage clinical development of delafloxacin, which is expected to enter a phase 2b study in early 2011.
The financing was led by current investor Warburg Pincus. Delafloxacin is novel fluoroquinolone antibiotic being developed against treatment resistant infections in the hospital setting.
DuPont’s (DD) $6.3 billion acquisition of Danisco was the biggest life science deal and occurred outside the healthcare space. Danisco, probably best known in this country as the company behind Dannon yogurt, is a global enzyme and specialty food ingredients company. DuPont and Danisco, through its enzyme division Genencor, became partners in the spring of 2008 in a 50/50 global joint venture to develop and commercialize a low-cost technology solution for the production of cellulosic ethanol, a next generation biofuel produced from non-food sources that had the potential to address a $75 billion global market opportunity.
“In addition, biotechnology and specialty food ingredients have the potential to change the landscape of industries, such as substituting renewable materials for fossil fuel processes and addressing food needs in developing economies, that will generate more sustainable solutions and create growth for the company," says DuPont Chair and CEO Ellen Kullman. [See story]
DEALS FOR THE WEEK ENDING JANUARY 14, 2010
|Global Venture Financings|
|Company||Location||Amount Raised (USD M)||Principal Activity|
|NextWave Pharmaceuticals||Cupertino, CA||45.0||Specialty pharma|
|VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies||Saratoga, CA||31.0||Vision|
|Avinger||Redwood City, CA||25.0||Catheters for PAD|
|Civitas Therapeutics||Chelsea, MA||20.0||Inhaled formulations of drugs|
|Rib-X Pharmaceuticals||New Haven, CT||20.0||Antibiotics|
|Dekkun||Cambridge, MA||9.9||Stealth mode|
|Celleration||Eden Prairie, MN||8.0||Ultrasound|
|Ocular Therapeutix||Bedford. MA||6.0||Ophthalmology|
|TruTouch Technologies||Albuquerque, NM||2.1||Biometric intoxication detection|
|Vaximm||Basel, Switzerland||8.1||T-cell-based vaccines|
|Interface Biologics||Toronto, Canada||7.0||Biopolymers|
|Polyplus Transfection||Strasbourg, France||3.3||Delivery of nucleic acids|
|Total Raised US||183.3|
|Total Raised Non-US||18.4|
|Company||Funding/Contracting Agency||Amount Raised (USD M)||Principal Activity|
|Rosetta Genomics (Israel)||Office of Israeli Chief Scientist||0.5||Molecular diagnostics|
|Oryzon Genomics (Spain)||Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation||0.3||Alzheimer's disease|
|VistaGen Therapetuics||NIH NHLBI||0.3||Stem cell technology|
|NuPotential||NIH NHLBI||0.2||Stem cell technology|
|Collaborative Drug Discovery||Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation||2.8||Drug discovery cloud platform|
Raised (USD M)
|ALDA Pharmaceuticals (Canada)||TSX-V:APH||0.2||PIPE|
|Bioniche Life Sciences (Canada)||TSX:BNC||12.7||Follow on|
|RegeneRx||OTC:RGRX||11.0||Commited equity agreement|
|CytRx||CYTR||7.0||Sale of equity interest in Rxi|
|Ventrus Biosciences||VTUS||2.6||Overallotment from IPO|
|Total Public Financings-US||1,023.3|
|Total Public Financings-Non-US||12.9|
|Acquirer||Target||Deal Value |
|BioTie Therapies (Finland)||Synosia Therapeutics||121.5||CNS drugs|
|Rochester Medical||Laprolan (Fornix-Netherlands)||13.7||Medical devices|
|Water Street Healthcare Partners||OraPharma (J&J)||N/A||Dental|
|Qiagen (Germany)||Alacris Theranostics (Germany)||N/A||Biomarkers|
|Sinopharm (China)||Aurobindo Bio Pharma (Aurobindo-India)||N/A||Generics|
|Company/Licenser||Company/Licensee||Deal Value |
|Boehringer Ingelheim (Germany)||Eli Lilly||1,233.0||Diabetes alliance|
|Eli Lilly||Boehringer Ingelheim (Germany)||1,175.0||Diabetes alliance|
|Epizyme||GlaxoSmithKline (United Kingdom)||630.0||Epigenetic therapeutics alliance|
|Xencor||Amgen||500.0||Autoimmune license option|
|Zinfandel Pharmaceuticals||Takeda Pharmaceutical (Japan)||87.0||Alzheimer's diagnostic license|
|Taijitu Biologics (Singapore)||PPD||25.0||Antibody discovery joint venture|
|arGEN-X (Netherlands)||Eli Lilly||N/A||Antibody collaboration|
|Transgene (France)||Beckman Coulter||N/A||Companion diagnostic development|
|Kissei Pharmaceuticals (France)||BHV Pharma||N/A||Endocrine/diabetes license|
|ImmunGene||Cephalon||N/A||Cancer, drug delivery partnership|
|OSI Pharmaceuticals (Astellas-Japan)||PanOptica||N/A||Ophthalmic license|
|Viropro||Spectrum Pharmaceuticals||N/A||Cancer biosimilar partnership|
|Seegene (Korea)||Caliper Life Sciences||N/A||Molecular diagnostics partnership|
|Aerogen (Ireland)||Dance Pharma||N/A||Inhaled Insulin technology license|
|Pharmasset||Bristol-Myers Squibb||N/A||Hepatitis C collaboration|
|Resolvyx Pharmaceuticals||Celtic Therapeutics||N/A||Ophthalmic license|
|BioFocus (Galapagos-Belgium)||Ono Pharmaceutical (Japan)||N/A||Autoimmune collaboration|
|MerLion Pharmaceuticals (Singapore)||Alcon (Novartis-Switzerland)||N/A||Anti-infective drug license|
|Opko Health||Bristol-Myers Squibb||N/A||Alzheimer's diagnostic collaboration|
|Eurand (Italy)||Nycomed (Switzerland)||N/A||Gastrointestinal drug marketing|
|Chugai (Japan)||Circadian Technologies (Australia)||N/A||VEGF-D IP license|
|Orexo (Sweden)||Invida (Singapore)||N/A||Cancer pain drug marketing license|