Bio Roundup: Bristol & Illumina Blues, Sickle Cell News & More

Xconomy National — 

On Aug. 4, shares of Bristol-Myers Squibb closed at $75.32. Today, shares are worth just over $50. That means in three months, Bristol has lost a third of its value, equivalent to about $40 billion in market capitalization. The reason? One failed clinical trial has left rival Merck in the lead position to have what could be part of the new standard of care for lung cancer. That story and plenty more in this week’s roundup.


—The European Society of Medical Oncology held its annual meeting in Copenhagen, and the meeting featured updates on heavyweight immunotherapy programs, potential options for patients with advanced breast cancer, and more. Some of the big headlines from the meeting included the latest data on a prospective ovarian cancer drug, niraparib, from Waltham, MA-based Tesaro (NASDAQ: TSRO), and results from Merck’s (NYSE: MRK) pembrolizumab (Keytruda) in newly diagnosed lung cancer patients. Merck’s data sent immunotherapy rival Bristol’s shares down more than 10 percent, while Tesaro’s shares gained 17 percent over the week.

—Shares of San Diego-based Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) fell more than 32 percent after the next-gen sequencing giant slashed its revenue projections once again. Illumina fended off a hostile takeover bid from Roche back in February 2012, and over the next three years shares went from about $51 apiece to as high as $219.30 in July 2015. But sagging sales have sent Illumina far down from last year’s peak. Here’s more from CNBC.


—Researchers at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, the Innovative Genomics Initiative of Berkeley, CA, and the University of Utah have made progress on a gene-editing treatment for sickle cell disease. The work used CRISPR-Cas9 to fix a genetic mutation in human bone marrow cells that were transplanted into mice. It remains years away from human testing.

—Cambridge, MA-based Bluebird Bio (NASDAQ: BLUE) has made technological improvements to the process it uses to manufacture gene therapies. They’ll be incorporated into Bluebird’s current and future trials, which Bluebird hopes might help it overcome some of the limitations it’s seen so far in gene therapies for sickle cell and beta-thalassemia.


—Cambridge and Basel-based CRISPR Therapeutics, which could go public next week, aims to raise $75 million by selling 4.7 million shares at $15 to $17 apiece.

—Cancer drug developer Accelerated Pharma, based in Westport, CT, outlined terms for a $17 million IPO.

—AzurRx Biopharma (NASDAQ: AZRX), which has an executive office at SUNY Downstate’s biotech incubator in Brooklyn, raised $5.3 million in an IPO.


—Zymergen of Emeryville, CA, raised a $130 million Series B round for its biological manufacturing business. It engineers microbes to produce chemicals for a range of industries. The round was led by Japan’s SoftBank Group.

—Boston-based healthtech startup Iora Health raised a $75 million Series D round led by Singapore-based Temasek. Here’s more on the startup, which runs primary care clinics imbued with software that helps track patients’ health.


—New York-based Intercept Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ICPT) said that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use has recommended conditional approval of obeticholic acid (Ocaliva) in Europe to treat patients with the rare liver disease primary biliary cirrhosis. The drug is already approved to treat PBC in the U.S.

—Adaptimmune Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ADAP) said Wednesday it has changed the protocol for its ovarian cancer treatment in a Phase 1/2a trial. The stock price was down 10 percent as of Thursday’s close.

—Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: REGN) will team with Ocular Therapeutix (NASDAQ: OCUL) to develop a long-lasting version of its flagship eye drug, aflibercept (Eylea).

Alex Lash contributed to this report