East Coast Biotech Roundup: Proteon, Ataxion, NY Genome/Watson, & More

East Coast Biotech Roundup: Proteon, Ataxion, NY Genome/Watson, & More

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help roll out the NvisionVLE, a medical imaging system used in endoscopy procedures. I spoke with CEO Charles Carignan about what the company needs to do to break even.

—Cambridge and Cincinnati, OH-based Akebia Therapeutics (NASDAQ: AKBA) priced its IPO this week at $17 per share, the high end of its projected $14 to $17 per share range. Akebia sold 5,882,353 and raised about $100 million in the offering. The company is using the cash to support a Phase 3 trial for an oral anemia drug it’s developing called ALB-6548.

—Cambridge-based Aveo Oncology (NASDAQ: AVEO) lost Astellas Pharma as a collaboration partner last month, and now it’s regained full rights to experimental cancer drug AV-203, effectively ending a deal it cut with Biogen in 2009. Aveo plans to seek out a partner with “established oncology capabilities” to help drive AV-203 forward. The company completed a Phase 1 trial of AV-203 in May 2013.

—Princeton, NJ-based Agile Therapeutics has joined the IPO queue, seeking $69 million to help develop a once-weekly contraceptive patch, Twirla, that would be an alternate to oral birth-control pills. Agile expects to report data from an ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial next year. Like Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho Evra patch, Agile’s patch delivers doses of estrogen and progestin to stop ovulation. But Agile delivers those drugs in lower doses, which, the company claims, makes its product safer. The FDA slapped a black box warning on Ortho Evra two years ago to alert patients of the risk of developing blood clots. Agile would trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “AGRX.” ProQuest Investments (30.4 percent), Care Capital Investments (26.6 percent), Investor Growth Capital (26.6 percent), and Aisling Capital (8.9) own most of Agile’s stock.

—Aranata Therapeutics (NASDAQ: PETX) grabbed the rights to four experimental cancer immunotherapies Princeton, NJ-based Advaxis (NASDAQ: ADXS) has been developing for dogs, among them an experimental drug known as ADKX-HER2. Aranata paid Advaxis $1 million up front and made a $1.5 million equity investment in Advaxis stock and warrants. Advaxis could also see $6 million in clinical and regulatory milestones per drug, and $28.5 million in commercial milestones as well.

—Lexington, MA-based SynapDx is teaming up with the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT to try to develop next-generation sequencing techniques that could help boost the accuracy of the type of blood-based autism diagnostics the startup is developing. I profiled SynapDx, and the autism test it’s been developing, back in July.

—New York-based startup AbilTo raised a $6 million Series B round led by BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners and Sandbox Industries, and including existing backer .406 Ventures. AbilTo provides behavioral “interventions” for people with chronic or traumatic health conditions like a diagnosis with breast cancer or type 2 diabetes, or a heart attack. The startup connects patients with therapists for remote sessions over the course of eight weeks to help deal with a big transition, manage their condition, and adjust emotionally and physically.

—Cambridge-based Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: IRWD) kicked off a Phase 2a clinical trial testing of an experimental drug it’s been developing, IW-3718, in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease who haven’t responded to prior treatments. Ironwood is enrolling 90 patients in the study, and expects to report data from the trial in the first half of 2015.

—New Brunswick, NJ-based Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) this week stopped a Phase 3 trial testing its long-lasting form of schizophrenia treatment paliperidone (Invega Sustenna) because the drug showed such an obvious benefit for patients. The drug uses Dublin and Waltham, MA-based Alkermes’ (NASDAQ: ALKS) extended-release technology. J&J plans to submit a new drug application to the FDA by the end of the year.

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