Bio Roundup: Graham-Cassidy, Axovant Fail, SpringWorks Launches & More

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to discuss potential approval filings with regulators.

—Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) won FDA approval for breast cancer drug abemaciclib (Verzenio), to be used with the endocrine therapy fulvestrant.


—With its cash reserves already dwindling, Genocea Biosciences (NASDAQ: GNCA) couldn’t find the financing or partnership needed to advance its experimental genital herpes vaccine, GEN-003, into Phase 3 testing. So Genocea will now seek “strategic alternatives” for GEN-003, cut its workforce by 40 percent, and focus on its preclinical cancer vaccine work instead. That series of moves didn’t stop its shares from falling more than 76 percent to $1.25 apiece, their lowest levels ever.

Analytics 4 Life raised $25 million in a Series B funding round. The startup, with locations in Toronto and Research Triangle Park, NC, has developed a medical device that reads the heart’s electrical activity in order to form an image.

SpringWorks Therapeutics launched with $103 million in funding and four experimental drugs whose development had been stalled at Pfizer. SpringWorks aims to develop experimental therapies that pharma companies leave on the cutting room floor, specifically for diseases with no approved therapies or little competition. Xconomy spoke with ex-Pfizer and Alexion Pharmaceuticals vets Lara Sullivan and Saqib Islam about the effort.

—In a regulatory filing, Acorda Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ACOR) said it can address the FDA’s refusal to review experimental Parkinson’s drug Inbrija, and file a new approval application, without scheduling a meeting with the agency or starting a new clinical trial.

—Waltham, MA, cancer drug developer Deciphera Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: DCPH) raised $128 million in an upsized IPO, one of three biotech IPOs this week.

—The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) awarded South San Francisco biotech Achaogen (NASDAQ: AKAO) an $18 million contract to develop drugs that treat extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae, a nasty pathogen deemed a critical priority by the World Health Organization because it can be deadly in people who have weakened immune systems.

—GRO Biosciences, the latest startup from the labs of Harvard University genetics professor George Church, raised $2.1 million in seed funding led by Digitalis Ventures. Boston-based GRO is developing genetically altered bacteria that are meant to help boost the potency and durability of protein drugs.


—Xconomy announced the winners of its inaugural Xconomy Awards for the Boston life sciences community. Congratulations to all!

Alex Lash and Ben Fidler contributed to this report. 

Photo by Flickr user Antti Lipponen via a Creative Commons license.

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