Biotech Roundup: Moonshots, Pink Slips, Gilead, Brexit & More

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stopped early because it clearly wasn’t helping patients. Galena shares plummeted 83 percent… Shares of San Diego-based Regulus Therapeutics (NASDAQ: RGLS) plummeted almost 50 percent after the FDA placed a clinical hold on its experimental hepatitis C treatment RG-101… Shares of Ann Arbor, MI-based Esperion Therapeutics fell nearly 35 percent after the company reported that the FDA “did not provide clarity on a regulatory pathway” for its cholesterol-lowering drug ETC-1002. To win approval, Esperion might first have to run what’s known as an “outcomes trial,” a massive, expensive study designed to show whether its drug reduces the risk of strokes and heart attacks, not just cholesterol levels.

—Morphic Therapeutics, a new startup from the labs of Harvard University immunologist Tim Springer, debuted with a $51.5 million Series A round led by the venture arms of three pharmaceutical companies. Xconomy spoke with Springer about the effort, in which Morphic will try to develop pills that block the activity of integrins, an alluring yet tricky biological target.

—More deals: Cambridge, MA-based Moderna Therapeutics added to its war chest with a $200 million payment from Merck to develop “personalized” cancer vaccines that pair with Merck’s immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab (Keytruda)… Novartis will pay Xencor (NASDAQ: XNCR) of Monrovia, CA, $150 million upfront in a deal that includes shared rights to two Xencor blood-cancer drugs due to start clinical trials this year… Framingham, MA-based HeartWare International (NASDAQ: HTWR) is being acquired by Medtronic (NYSE:MDT]]) for $1.1 billion in cash. Incidentally, the deal comes seven years after Thoratec—now owned by St. Jude Medical—unsuccessfully tried to buy Heartware for $282 million.

—Durham, NC-based Icagen acquired Sanofi’s research site in Oro Valley, AZ, to help with its drug discovery work.

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