East Coast Biotech Roundup: Foundation, Biogen, Moderna, & Lots More

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$241 million to Vedanta overall for the rights to Vedanta’s experimental microbiome therapy, VE-202. The two parties aren’t saying how long it’ll be until the therapy begins clinical trials, however, as Alex Lash reports.

—Separately, J&J also agreed to pay Swiss biotech AC Immune up to $509 million as part of a deal to develop a vaccine that stimulates an immune response against tau, a protein implicated in the tangles and plaques that build up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. As part of the deal, J&J will take on the development of ACI-35, a vaccine candidate in Phase 1b testing.

—Summit, NJ-based Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) exercised its option to grab the international rights to Agios Pharmaceuticals’s (NASDAQ: AGIO) AG-120, one of the cancer metabolism drugs the Cambridge company is developing that has shown some encouraging results in early studies. Agios holds U.S. rights to the drug; it could also get up to $120 million in milestones from Celgene should AG-120 continue to progress, and royalties on sales internationally. The drug is part of the broad collaboration Agios formed with Celgene in 2010.

—Cambridge-based Lysosomal Therapeutics, the startup founded by Kees Been with the help of Atlas Venture and former Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer last year to go after therapies for Parkinson’s and Gaucher Disease, is in the midst of raising a Series A round that could close this month, Alex Lash reports.

—Boston-based Ziopharm (NASDAQ: ZIOP) became the latest biotech to add CAR-T (a cellular immunotherapy taking the cancer treatment world by storm) to its ledger. The company and development partner Intrexon (NASDAQ: XON) signed a licensing deal to develop a CAR-T technology created at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. That technology supposedly uses a DNA-plasmid based method to genetically reprogram a patient’s T cells, rather than a virus. MD Anderson is getting as much as $100 million out of the deal: $50 million in Ziopharm and Intrexon stock, and another $15 million to $20 million each year for the next three years for R&D. Ziopharm and Intrexon aim to get as many as five CAR-T candidates into clinical trials this year through the deal.

—As we wrote recently, Watertown, MA-based Enanta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ENTA) pocketed $75 million when Viekira Pak—AbbVie’s hepatitis C regimen, which includes a drug Enanta helped develop—won FDA approval. So what’s it doing with some of that cash? Apparently, as FierceBiotech reported, diving into the increasingly competitive market for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH therapies. Intercept Pharmaceuticals burst onto the scene last year with promising data for a NASH drug, and others have since joined the fray. Now you can add Enanta, whose program is in the early stages of development.

Photo courtesy of flickr user Ruth L via Creative Commons 

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