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Updated: 23 hours 44 min ago

Novartis’ Martin Seidel Joins IFM Therapeutics as V.P. of R&D

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 10:05

Martin Seidel is joining IFM Therapeutics to become the Boston biotech’s executive vice president of research and development. Seidel comes to IFM from Novartis (NYSE: NVS), where he was most recently global head of strategic alliances for the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NBIR). Before that, he was head of NBIR’s Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation. IFM is developing drugs that target the innate immune system to treat cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

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Not Resting on Hemophilia Biz, Bioverativ Pays $400M For True North

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 09:00

Less than four months into its existence, Biogen spinoff Bioverativ has made its first big splash. The company has acquired True North Therapeutics, a privately held South San Francisco, CA, biotech, as part of a plan to forge an identity around rare blood diseases, not the core hemophilia business it was built on.

Waltham, MA-based Bioverativ (NASDAQ: BIVV) will pay $400 million up front for True North, and may tack on another $425 million in downstream payments if the company’s lead drug TNT009, for the rare cold agglutinin disease (CAD), succeeds in clinical testing. Bioverativ will pay for the... Read more »

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ViaCyte Raises $10M, Moves to Human Trial with New Diabetes Product

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 02:14

San Diego-based ViaCyte said it is ready to move into human testing with a new product intended for patients with Type 1 diabetes who are at high risk for acute, life-threatening complications from severe episodes of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

ViaCyte said Monday that healthcare regulators in both the United States and Canada have permitted the company to proceed with the early stage clinical trial, which calls for enrolling roughly 40 patients at medical centers that include UC San Diego and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. The goal of the trial is to assess the safety of the PEC-Direct... Read more »

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Celgene’s Data Could Lead To New Option For Multiple Sclerosis Patients

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 15:58

Celgene reported Monday that an experimental pill for the main type of multiple sclerosis met its main goals in a two-year study. By the end of the year, the Summit, NJ, drugmaker will ask the FDA to consider the drug, ozanimod, for approval.

The Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) drug is being tested in patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), which accounts for about 85 percent of all initial U.S. cases, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Relapsing MS is characterized by neurological attacks that flare up and go into remission.

If ozanimod is approved, it would mark the second major... Read more »

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Envision the Future: Request Your Invite to Our Napa Summit June 8-9

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 11:45

We are getting down to the wire—just two and a half weeks until Xconomy’s most unique, up close and personal event of the year: our sixth annual Napa Summit: The Xconomy Retreat on Technology, Jobs, and Growth. We have only about 20 spots left open, and a number of those will likely go fast. So request your invitation today to this special conference in the heart of California wine country and join a standout group of executives, innovators, investors, technologists, and entrepreneurs who will be among your fellow attendees.

Attendance is limited to no more than 100. To request your invite,... Read more »

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Radius Shares Jump as Amgen’s Bone Drug Suffers a Setback in Phase 3

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 08:45

Amgen revealed late Sunday that safety problems have emerged in clinical testing of its closely watched osteoporosis drug, romosozumab (Evenity)—a development that will at minimum delay the drug’s path to approval, if not keep it off the market altogether.

The Thousand Oaks, CA, company said while romosozumab met its main goal and some key secondary goals in a 4,093-patient Phase 3 study called Arch, the study also showed an “imbalance” in serious cardiovascular side effects. Some 2.5 percent of patients on romosozumab had these side effects, compared to 1.9 percent on the osteoporosis drug alendronate (Fosamax). Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN)... Read more »

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Cook Medical Gets FDA OK for Device to Treat Rare Birth Defect

Mon, 05/22/2017 - 07:00

In rare instances, a baby’s esophagus develops improperly during pregnancy, leaving a gap in this tube connecting the throat to the stomach. Babies born with this condition can’t eat by mouth, and they require surgery to repair the defect.

Bloomington, IN-based Cook Medical recently received FDA approval for a new medical device that offers a non-surgical way to treat this defect—called pediatric esophageal atresia—though most babies treated with the device still required an additional repair procedure, as they sometimes do after surgery. While Cook’s Flourish device can’t treat all babies born with this condition, Mario Zaritzky, a pediatric radiologist at the... Read more »

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Bio Roundup: Termeer Tribute, ASCO Peeks, Califf’s New Gigs & More

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 07:35

Exhausted by the nonstop drama in Washington, DC? Immerse yourself instead in this week’s biotech headlines. Let’s start with a tribute to a life sciences icon, then we’ll head around the Xconomy network with early news from the nation’s big yearly cancer meeting. There was also momentum onthe IPO front and new gigs for high-profile folks (with just one stop on Capitol Hill along the way, we promise). Let’s get right to it.


—Henri Termeer, the former Genzyme executive widely credited as a pioneer of the orphan drug business, passed away suddenly at the age of... Read more »

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Could Seattle’s Life Science Expertise Support Clean Meat Industry?

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 21:08

The Pacific Northwest has the ingredients and the recipes for innovation in animal-free meats and proteins—but entrepreneurs and investors here have yet to don the chef’s toque.

An event at the University of Washington’s CoMotion innovation transfer arm on Monday seeks to gauge interest among would-be innovators in the clean meat and plant-based protein. Advocates have touted the growing industry’s myriad benefits for human and animal health and well being.

Co-sponsored by advocacy group the Good Food Institute, the evening panel discussion will help CoMotion determine whether food innovation should be an area of emphasis, alongside its more mature efforts to support startup companies... Read more »

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Menlo Ventures Says Small Is Beautiful For New $450M Fund

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 20:58

Menlo Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm investing in tech startups since 1976, announced today that it closed a $450 million fund that brings its capital under management to more than $5 billion.

The new fund, Menlo Ventures XIV, will be devoted primarily to early-stage investments in both enterprise and consumer technologies. The firm’s core areas of interest include cybersecurity, fintech, cloud infrastructure, Web-based software, and consumer marketplaces such as Uber, one of the firm’s portfolio companies. But 20 percent of the fund will be invested in frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, and computational biology.

Menlo... Read more »

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Stem Pharm Aims to Add to Madison’s Stem Cell Past with Biomaterials

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 18:31

In the years since researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison derived the first human embryonic stem cell line, in 1998, numerous stem cell-focused businesses have popped up in the area. Each one has its own unique concentration, but the overarching goal of these companies is to develop and sell lines of stem cells, as well as to create therapeutics and ancillary products to help researchers study the cells.

Stem Pharm is one of the newest Madison-based startups to join the field. The company, which was formed in 2015 and builds on research conducted in the laboratory of UW-Madison biomedical engineering... Read more »

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Medtech Firm Nativis Appoints Ferguson Chief Scientific Officer

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 16:07

Nativis, a medical device company aiming to use ultra-low radio frequency energy to treat disease, has appointed Kenneth Ferguson chief scientific officer. Seattle-based Nativis is currently in clinical trials testing its medical device, Nativis Voyager, as a treatment for recurrent glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. Before joining Nativis, Ferguson was chief development officer for Seattle biotech Omeros (NASDAQ: OMER). His experience also includes executive roles at VacTX and Icos, now a subsidiary of Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY).

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Study Stakes San Diego’s Claim in Genomics: $292M in 2016 VC Deals

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 13:59

Preliminary findings from an economic impact study show that genomics is emerging as a distinct innovation cluster in San Diego.

The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. began collecting data for the report earlier this year in a bid to assess how genomics fits into San Diego’s innovation economy. Final results of the EDC study won’t be released until June 19, the first day of the Bio International Convention, as part of a panel discussion on the local genomics cluster.

But some details were offered yesterday by Kirby Brady, the EDC’s director of research, following a press conference intended to promote... Read more »

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Ex-Sarepta CEO Garabedian Returns to Run Bio Accelerator Xontogeny

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 13:01

Chris Garabedian, a veteran biotech executive who helped turn Sarepeta Therapeutics around before his controversial exit in 2015, has returned to the life sciences scene—this time with a new venture to form some biotech startups and help others find their footing.

Garabedian is the chairman and CEO of a new Boston-based life sciences accelerator called Xontogeny. The accelerator announced Thursday that it has secured $15 million in funding, a sum that represents the first tranche of a $25 million Series A round. Perceptive Advisors, a New York life sciences investment firm, is the only institutional investor backing the accelerator.

In his... Read more »

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Check Out The Agenda for What’s Hot in Cancer Immunotherapy 2017

Thu, 05/18/2017 - 09:23

We have posted the agenda for What’s Hot in Cancer Immunotherapy 2017, which is taking place on June 14 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Xconomy is gathering some of the field’s experts to assess the past and future opportunities and challenges when using the immune system to fight cancer—folks like Hans Bishop from Juno Therapeutics, Renato Martins from the University of Washington School of Medicine, and the Cancer Research Institute’s Jill O’Donnell-Tormey.

We held our first cancer immunotherapy event in Seattle three years ago, which feels like a lifetime with everything that’s happened in the field... Read more »

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Back To The Baseline? Ex-FDA Commish Califf Joins Verily As Advisor

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 14:57

In addition to a return to his old stomping grounds at Duke University, former FDA commissioner Robert Califf is going to work for Verily Life Sciences, the Silicon Valley R&D health group formerly known as Google Life Sciences. Verily published a blog post Wednesday in Califf’s name describing the vaguest outlines of his new gig.

The post reads in part: “Now, as part of the Verily team, I’m hoping to offer insights that will allow the company to better tailor its technologies to meet the needs of doctors, other providers, health systems and the patients they serve, and to drive evidence-based... Read more »

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Stifling Immigration Is “Retrograde”: Highlights From “What’s Hot”

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 13:50
View the Slideshow

Drug pricing. The opioid epidemic. Boardroom diversity. Immigration crackdowns. The state of cancer care now, and in the future. These things aren’t just topics of conversation in Boston biotech circles, but nationwide. Connecting those two with some lively, candid discussions was the idea behind Xconomy’s “What’s Hot in Boston Biotech” event last week.

Today we’re circling back to give you a small taste of the festivities through a slideshow and a few takeaways from the afternoon—and of course, to offer some hearty thank-yous to everyone who helped make it happen.

Thanks first to all of our attendees for packing the house,... Read more »

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Hurry & Save 20 Percent on New York Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 09:10

We’re only two weeks away from New York Biotech Seizes the Momentum, which will take place Wednesday, May 31, at Alexandria Center for Life Science. If you’re already planning on attending, there’s no need to wait any longer—our Super Saver special ends soon and seats are filling up fast, so act now and save 20 percent on regular registration.

This is a unique event that will look at the present and future of the life sciences industry in New York, and how people across the spectrum—from entrepreneurs, to venture capitalists and lab space developers—hope to capitalize on the progress that’s been... Read more »

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Riding Recent Biotech IPO Wave, G1 Snags $105M to Fund Cancer Work

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 08:36

Cancer drugmaker G1 Therapeutics raised $105 million in an IPO last night, the latest development in a recent uptick of biotech offerings.

G1, of Research Triangle Park, NC, sold 7 million shares at $15 apiece. G1 had to sell more shares than it had intended (6.25 million) to hit its goal, but still priced within its projected $15 to $17 per share range. It will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “GTHX” this morning.

After a slow start to 2017, biotech IPOs have picked up as of late. Since April 26, five biotechs have gone public: Ovid Therapeutics... Read more »

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UT Health San Antonio Lands $9.1M Grant to Study Drug Resistance

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 11:24

San Antonio — A group of scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is starting research projects funded by the National Cancer Institute that use data collection and computational analysis to study why breast and prostate cancers can progress and why they resist anti-hormone therapies.

The goal of the 5-year, $9.1 million grant—which incorporates work from some 20 biological and computational scientists from UT Health and other schools—is to identify biological pathways that may lead to new drugs, says Nameer Kirma, a faculty member of UT Health’s department of molecular medicine. The research won’t directly incorporate... Read more »

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