Bio Roundup: PARP Progress, A New Commish, IPO-Palooza & More

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rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drugs, saying that it needed to “reevaluate its modeling approach.” The report, which was not meant to be ICER’s final say, questioned whether three RA drugs were worth the cost. Fierce Pharma has more.

Scandal-ridden microbiome firm uBiome has asked a bankruptcy court to allow it to liquidate after it was unable to reach a deal with creditors and find new financing.

—Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX) continued its recent string of partnerships with a deal to invest in Ribometrix, of Durham, NC, and pay $20 million upfront to co-develop small-molecule drugs that target RNA.

—Organovo (NASDAQ: ONVO), which was driven to explore a merger or acquisition due to its cash woes, received a merger proposal from one of its research partners, Viscient Bio.

—NewLink Genetics (NASDAQ: NLNK) will execute a reverse merger with Lumos Pharma, an Austin, TX developer of rare-disease drugs. NewLink’s shares, once worth more than $50 apiece, cratered in 2017 when hyped cancer immunotherapy known as IDO inhibitors lost their luster.

NEW STARTS & CASH GRABS

—Gaithersburg, MD cell therapy startup ArcellX raised an $85 million Series B to develop next-gen cell therapies for multiple myeloma and other diseases.

—Cambridge, MA-based Beam Therapeutics filed plans for an IPO to fund preclinical development of its medicines that use a more precise form of CRISPR gene editing.

—Tocagen (NASDAQ: TOCA) will restructure and cut 65 percent of its workforce following the Phase 3 failure of its gene therapy for brain cancer.

—Cabaletta Bio of Philadelphia filed to go public to finance early-stage tests of its experimental cell therapies for autoimmune diseases.

—Viela Bio (NASDAQ: VIE), Frequency Therapeutics (NASDAQ: FREQ), and Aprea Therapeutics (NASDAQ: APRE) completed IPOs, raising a combined $320 million. But ADC Therapeutics and Monopar Therapeutics nixed IPO plans, citing market conditions.

—Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB) research and development executive Michael Ehlers is leaving to join venture capital firm Apple Tree Partners. He’ll also become CEO of one of Apple Tree’s portfolio companies, Limelight Bio.

Icosavax raised $51 million in Series A financing for human tests of its experimental vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus. The Seattle company’s vaccine is based on technology licensed from the University of Washington and the National Institutes of Health.

—Molecular Assemblies of San Diego closed $12.2 million in Series A financing to continue development of its enzymatic DNA synthesis technology.

AND THE WINNERS COULD BE…

Stat rubbed its crystal ball and tried to predict this year’s Nobel Prize winners, to be announced next week.

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

—Genfit (NASDAQ: GNFT) promoted Dean Hum to president… Vertex announced Carmen Bozic will become its chief medical officer… Avidity Biosciences named former Akcea Therapeutics (NASDAQ: AKCA) executive Sarah Boyce its CEO… Joshua Brumm joined Dyne Therapeutics as president and CEO, while former Dyne CEO Romesh Subramanian shifted to chief scientific officer… Bayer and Arvinas (NASDAQ ARVN) joint venture Oerth appointed John Dombrosky CEO… Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR) promoted Jonathan Zalevsky to chief research and development officer, and Gil Labrucherie to chief operating officer… and Bettina Cockroft left Cytokinetics (NASDAQ: CYTK) to become senior vice president and chief medical officer of Sangamo Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SGMO).

Frank Vinluan and Alex Lash contributed to this report.

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