Bio Roundup: Drug Prices, CRISPR Caveats, Rubius IPO Pop & More

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critical of the data, however. Evercore ISI’s Umer Raffat called the results “underwhelming” and Leerink’s Geoffrey Porges felt abicipar only has a “modest chance” of approval and worse commercial prospects, particularly given the drug’s propensity to cause eye inflammation.

—Novartis paid $111 million up front to grab rights to an experimental eczema drug, MOR106, from MorphoSys and Galapagos NV.

—Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) paid Redwood City, CA, startup Revolution Medicines $50 million upfront to split rights to a group of experimental cancer medicines. Revolution recently switched its focus from antifungals to cancer.

—Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE: JNJ) canagliflozin (Invokana) succeeded in a Phase 3 study of Type 2 diabetes patients with chronic kidney disease. The FDA also delayed a decision whether to expand canagliflozin’s diabetes label to include cardiovascular disease.

—Aveo Oncology (NASDAQ: AVEO) won’t report results from a Phase 3 study of kidney cancer drug tivozanib until the fourth quarter. Data had been expected in the third quarter. Shares fell more than 30 percent this week.


—The FDA announced plans to help get generic biologic drugs, called “biosimilars,” to market more quickly.

—The agency approved Johnson & Johnson’s HIV antiviral cocktail darunavir (Symtuza), which will now compete with similar, rival medicines from Gilead Sciences and GlaxoSmithKline.

—The FDA also greenlighted the first drug to treat smallpox, TPOXX, from New York-based SIGA Technologies.

—And the agency partially suspended testing of a Mersana Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MRSN) breast cancer drug after a patient died in clinical testing. Shares plunged more than 30 percent.


—Rubius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: RUBYraised $241 million in an upsized IPO, the largest biotech issue this year. The Cambridge firm says its lead red-cell therapeutic, a treatment for the rare disease phenylketonuria, could start clinical testing in 2019.

—Hotspot Therapeutics of Cambridge, MA, emerged with $45 million in financing to find drugs that target proteins in unconventional ways. The firm wants to develop treatments for liver disease and autoimmune disorders.

—Verge Genomics, a startup using a combination of machine learning and cutting-edge biology to find treatments for neurological diseases, raised a $32 million Series A round. Xconomy profiled its young CEO, Alice Zhang, in 2016.

—IFM Therapeutics spun out a subsidiary, IFM Tre, backed by a $31 million Series A financing round. The cash will support a trio preclinical drugs targeting inflammatory disorders.

—Roivant Sciences, the holding company run by Vivek Ramaswamy, formed its latest biotech. The company, Shanghai-based Sinovant Sciences, is developing a pipeline of medicines for Chinese and other Asian markets.

—Hong Kong and Rockville, MD-based Ascentage Pharma raised a $150 million Series C to continue developing drugs for cancer, hepatitis B, and age-related diseases.

—Neuraly, a Johns Hopkins Medicine spinout based in Germantown, MD, bagged a $36 million Series A to advance therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. Research underlying the startup was recently reported in Nature Medicine.

—Pliant Therapeutics of South San Francisco, CA, raised a $62 million Series B round to support tests of its lead drug as a treatment for liver and lung fibrosis.


—This week we unveiled the Xconomy Awards finalists for the Innovation at the Intersection category. The finalists all use a variety of methods outside of biology to tackle life sciences problems.

Alex Lash and Frank Vinluan contributed to this report.

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