As we kick off the new year, here’s a look at some of the headlines in North Carolina biotech and tech news from the holiday break.
—Chimerix’s (NASDAQ: CMRX) lead antiviral drug candidate failed a late-stage clinical trial of its ability to prevent a potentially deadly infection in transplant patients, sparking a more than 80 percent drop in the Durham company’s stock. But Chimerix shares showed a small recovery after Point72 Asset Management, led by hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen, disclosed in a securities filing that it owned a 5.3 percent stake in the drug developer.
—The White House named Joe DeSimone, a chemistry professor with dual appointments at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and NC State University, among eight recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Recipients will receive their medals at a White House ceremony early this year.
DeSimone’s nanotechnology research has led to the formation of several companies, including Research Triangle Park-based Liquidia Technologies. DeSimone is currently on leave from his teaching duties to serve as CEO of Carbon3D, a Silicon Valley-based 3D printing technology company spun out of UNC.
—Merz North America received FDA approval to expand use of one of its drugs to include upper limb spasticity, a condition that makes muscles in the arms stiff and flexed. The drug, incobotulinumtoxinA (Xeomin), was first approved in 2010 to treat involuntary neck muscle contractions, as well as involuntary spasm of the eyelids. Raleigh-based Merz North America is a unit of Merz Pharma Group, a German company.
—Novan Therapeutics raised $30 million in funding as the company moves forward with two nitric oxide-based drug candidates. Durham-based Novan declined to comment on the funding or its investors. But Novan’s lead drug, a potential treatment for acne, is set to launch Phase 3 clinical trials in early 2016.
—In other funding news, MapAnything, a company that provides mapping and location-based analytics for Salesforce users, raised $7.3 million in a Series A round of financing. Greycroft Partners led the investment, which also included participation from Harbert Venture Partners, Salesforce Ventures, and individual investors Michael Lazerow and David Stern. With the funding, Charlotte-based MapAnything plans to expand its sales and marketing efforts in the United States and abroad.
Photo of downtown Durham sunset courtesy of Flickr user David Mooring under a Creative Commons license.