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Bio Roundup: Award Winners, Lung Data, Dems on Drug Pricing & More

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Sage Therapeutics CEO Jeff Jonas, Cambridge, MA, startup IFM Therapeutics, Third Rock Ventures co-founder Mark Levin, and many more.

POLITICS & PRICING

—Investors and Wall Street analysts mainly shrugged off leaked news of a House Democrat drug-pricing plan that would give Medicare negotiating power, penalize companies that refused to negotiate, base price caps on an international index, and more.

—The Trump administration called for a ban on flavored electronic cigarettes, a decision that follows reports of at least six deaths and respiratory illness in hundreds associated with vaping.

—Purdue Pharma reached a tentative deal to settle litigation with approximately 2,000 state and local governments that hold the company partly responsible for the nation’s opioid crisis. But some states are holding out, saying that the $10 billion to $12 billion settlement isn’t enough.

GREEN LIGHT, RED LIGHT

—Palforzia, an experimental peanut allergy drug from Aimmune Therapeutics (NASDAQ: AIMT), heads to an FDA advisory panel today. In briefing documents posted earlier this week, the agency didn’t question the drug’s effectiveness, but flagged some potential safety concerns seen in human testing.

—Joi Ito resigned as director of MIT Media Lab Saturday and stepped down from several boards including Boston startup creator PureTech Health, after a New Yorker report revealed more details about Ito’s ties to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

—Translate Bio (NASDAQ: TBIO) stopped work on MRT5201, an experimental mRNA drug for the rare metabolic disorder ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency. The FDA suspended the program in January.

—Previously sealed legal documents obtained by Reuters argued that Merck has downplayed side effects, like sexual dysfunction and depression, tied to its hair loss drug Propecia. Merck denies the allegations and told Reuters it “stands behind the safety and efficacy of Propecia.”

NEW STARTS & CASH GRABS

—Tony Coles, who recently relinquished his role as CEO of Yumanity Therapeutics, was named CEO of Cerevel Therapeutics, which spun out of Pfizer last year with a portfolio of drugs for neurodegenerative diseases.

—Trucode Gene Repair launched with $34 million to support development of a gene-editing technology from Yale University. The San Francisco-based startup says its approach may avoid the potential “off-target” effects of CRISPR-based gene editing.

—Platelet BioGenesis added $26 million to its Series A round to help develop technology to produce platelets from stem cells.

–Netherlands-based Pharvaris got $66 million to back Phase 1 testing of an experimental treatment for hereditary angioedema.

—OncoCell MDx joined the growing group of liquid biopsy startups with a $22.2 million Series B round.

—Six years after GlaxoSmithKline teamed with Avalon Ventures to launch celiac disease drug developer Sitari Pharmaceuticals, GSK bought the company outright. Terms weren’t disclosed.

ON THE IPO TRAIL

—This week, the public markets welcomed 10x Genomics (NASDAQ: TXG), SpringWorks Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SWTX), and Satsuma Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: STSA). They raised $595 million combined.

Frequency Therapeutics, ADC Therapeutics, Aprea Therapeutics, and BioNTech also jumped into the IPO queue.

EVENT NEWS

—Xconomy will hold a unique event on Oct. 17 at the Broad Institute, “Boston’s Life Science Disruptors,” featuring a candid, fireside chat with biotech pioneer Phil Sharp, a look at the rise of patient influence on the development of rare disease drugs, and more. You can grab your tickets here.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

—Carol Addy was appointed chief medical officer of Genfit (NASDAQ:GNFT]])… John Furey left Spark Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ONCE) to become CEO of Imvax… and Monique Levy was named chief strategy officer of BlackThorn Therapeutics.

Frank Vinluan and Alex Lash contributed to this report.

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