Author Archives: Frank Vinluan

Roche enlists Dyno to bring AI to liver, CNS gene therapies

Roche hopes to bolster its capabilities in liver and central nervous system (CNS) disorder gene therapies by turning to Dyno Therapeutics. Roche made a splash with its acquisition of Spark Therapeutics, whose Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec), a gene therapy for an inherited form of vision loss, was the first such therapy to win FDA approval. Dyno, a two-year-old startup based in Cambridge, Massachusetts meanwhile, has never brought a gene therapy to the market, nor does it currently have its own drug…

SQZ Biotech lines up $75m IPO for cell therapy R&D

SQZ Biotechnologies says its technology can produce cell therapies in less than 24 hours compared to a month or more for current products and is looking to use IPO proceeds toward the completion of Phase I development of its lead therapeutic candidate. In paperwork filed with securities regulators late last week, SQZ set a preliminary $75 million goal for its IPO. The Watertown, MA-based biotech has applied for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock symbol “SQZ.” SQZ…

BMS to buy MyoKardia, adding heart disease drug for $13.1bn

BMS Myers Squibb (BMS) is bolstering its cardiovascular drug lineup with a $13.1 billion deal to acquire MyoKardia, a company whose experimental therapy for a rare type of heart disease is on track for an FDA submission and is projected to become a blockbuster seller. According to financial terms announced Monday, BMS has agreed to pay $225 cash for each share of MyoKardia, a 61 percent premium to the Brisbane, Califrnia-based company’s closing stock price on Friday. Shares of MyoKardia opened at…

Lumen Bioscience lands $16m to engineer “edible” antibody drugs

If Lumen Bioscience achieves its goals, patients will be able to take its drugs the same way some people supplement breakfast: a spoonful heaped onto a bowl of cereal or mixed into juice. The startup harnesses spirulina, protein-rich cyanobacteria touted by many health enthusiasts as a “superfood.” Lumen CEO Brian Finrow acknowledges spirulina’s health benefits, but that’s not why his company embraces it. Seattle-based Lumen turns spirulina into tiny factories that churn out therapeutic antibodies. Finrow says the Lumen technology…

Gilead adds ‘cornerstone’ cancer drug in $21bn Immunomedics buyout

Gilead Sciences is acquiring Immunomedics in a $21 billion deal, the latest in a string of transactions to bolster its cancer drug portfolio. The acquisition announced Sunday comes five months after Morris Plains, New Jersey-based Immunomedics won FDA approval for cancer drug Trodelvy (sacitizumab govitecan). The regulatory decision covers triple negative breast cancer but the drug, projected to become a blockbuster seller, is also being evaluated in other types of cancer. According to deal terms announced Sunday, Foster City, CA-based Gilead has…

CureVac’s IPO hauls in $213m as mRNA COVID-19 vaccine test nears

CureVac is playing catch-up to its messenger RNA (mRNA) peers in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, but the company contends its technology could offer dosing advantages, and it now has $213 million in IPO cash to fund the human tests that could support that claim. CureVac has sold more than 13.3 million shares for $16 apiece, the high end of its projected $14 to $16 per share price range. According to its IPO prospectus, the Tübingen, Germany-based company also raised…

J&J boosts autoimmune disease pipeline with $6.5bn Momenta buy

Johnson & Johnson is acquiring Momenta Pharmaceuticals in a $6.5 billion deal that brings the pharma giant a slate of experimental autoimmune disease therapies, including a potential blockbuster antibody drug in late-stage development for a rare type of anemia. Momenta develops treatments for diseases driven by autoantibodies – antibodies produced by the immune system that spark dozens of rare autoimmune disorders. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech’s lead drug candidate, nipocalimab, is in a pivotal clinical trial testing it in warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia…

Forge Bio’s combo model for gene therapies attracts $40m in funding

Forge Biologics has something rare for most early-stage biotech startups: revenue from customers. Now it has $40 million to expand its model, which places contract manufacturing alongside the development of its own gene therapies, the most advanced of which is being readied for tests in humans. From operations in Columbus, Ohio, Forge makes gene therapies for other companies. The company was initially conceived solely as a contract manufacturer, CEO Tim Miller told Xconomy. The explosion of gene therapy research is…

AveXis ‘flexible’ NC plant a step closer to fully internal gene therapy network

AveXis has opened a gene therapy plant in Durham it says will be able to produce up to seven products simultaneously. President Dave Lennon talks timelines, capacity, and taking production inhouse. AveXis and its owner Novartis have invested a total of $115 million (€106 million) into a site in Durham, North Carolina to support the production of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved product Zolgensma (onasemnogene abeparvovec) and its pipeline of gene therapy candidates. With the doors opening last…