Epirus raises $36 million, to reverse-merge
Biosimilar company Epirus Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (Boston, Mass.) raised $36 million in a series B round and said it will reverse-merge with Zalicus Inc. (NASDAQ:ZLCS) in an all-stock deal. The combined, publicly traded company will retain Epirus' name and focus on biosimilars. Epirus President and CEO Amit Munshi will be president and CEO, and Zalicus President and CEO Mark Corrigan will be chairman. Epirus shareholders will own 81-86% of the combined company and Zalicus shareholders the balance, depending on Zalicus' net cash when the deal closes. At Dec. 31, 2013, Zalicus (formerly CombinatoRx Inc.) had $18 million in cash.
Foundation Medicine withdraws follow-on
Pharmacogenetics company Foundation Medicine Inc. (NASDAQ:FMI) withdrew a proposed follow-on, citing market conditions. The company filed to raise $150 million in the offering last month, when its share price was $39.43. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan were underwriters.
Vital raises $54 million in IPO
Liver disease company Vital Therapies Inc. (NASDAQ:VTL) raised $54 million through the sale of 4.5 million shares at $12 in an IPO underwritten by BofA Merrill Lynch; Credit Suisse; William Blair; and Canaccord. The price values Vital at $253.4 million. The share price is below the range set earlier this month, when the company said it planned to 4.5 million shares at $13-$15. Vital is slated to start trading on Thursday.
Wilson's disease play secures $40 million
Wilson Therapeutics AB (Stockholm, Sweden) raised an undisclosed amount in a tranched $40 million series B round co-led by new investors Abingworth and MVM Life Science Partners. Existing investor HealthCap also participated. Wilson's WTX101 is in Phase I testing to treat Wilson's disease, a rare hereditary condition that leads to accumulation of toxic levels of copper. WTX101 is a second-generation analog of ammonium tetrathiomolybdate. Abingworth's Genghis Lloyd-Harris and MVM's Bali Muralidhar will join Wilson's board (see BioCentury, Aug. 13, 2012).
AMD company Iconic closes $20 million round
Iconic Therapeutics Inc. (Atlanta, Ga.) closed a $20 million series B round from new investors MPM Capital; Lundbeckfond Ventures; and H.I.G. BioVentures. Iconic is planning a Phase II trial of hI-con1 to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but the company declined to disclose a timeframe for the start. The product is a human chimeric, IgG-like homodimeric protein composed of a targeting domain (mutated, inactive factor VIIa) fused to an effector domain (Fc portion of IgG). MPM's William Greene became CEO of Iconic. He succeeds co-founder Kirk Dornbush, who will become president and COO and will remain on Iconic's board. MPM's Todd Foley, H.I.G.'s Bruce Robertson and Lundbeckfond's Johan Kordel will join Iconic's board.
ForSight Vision5 raises $15 million in series C
ForSight Vision5 Inc. (Menlo Park, Calif.) raised $15 million in a series C round led by new investor H.I.G. BioVentures. Existing investors Morgenthaler Ventures; Versant Ventures; Technology Partners; and Delphi Ventures also participated. H.I.G.'s Aaron Davidson will join ForSight Vision5's board.
Microlin Bio sets IPO range
Microlin Bio Inc. (New York, N.Y.) amended its IPO on NASDAQ and now plans to sell 2.7 million shares at $10-$12. At the $11 midpoint, the company would raise $30 million and be valued at $75.1 million. Brean Capital and Summer Street Research Partners are underwriters. In January, Microlin Bio filed to raise $25 million through the sale of a to-be-determined number of shares at $6-$8.
BioAlliance to merge with Topotarget
Cancer companies BioAlliance Pharma S.A. (Euronext:BIO) and Topotarget A/S (CSE:TOPO) will merge in a stock deal to create a company focused on Orphan cancers. Topotarget shareholders will own about a third of the combined company, and BioAlliance shareholders will own the balance. BioAlliance CEO Judith Greciet will be CEO of the combined company, which will retain BioAlliance's name and will be dual listed on Euronext and NASDAQ OMX. BioAlliance Chairman Patrick Langlois will be chairman of the combined company.
23andMe hires Hagenkord as CMO
Personal genomics company 23andMe Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.) hired Jill Hagenkord as CMO, a newly created position. She was SVP of medical strategy at genetic diagnostics company Invitae Corp. (San Francisco, Calif.). Prior to that, Hagenkord was SVP and CMO at Complete Genomics Inc., which genomics company BGI (Shenzhen, China) acquired.
Baxter's BAX 111 meets in Phase III trial
Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX) said on-demand treatment with IV BAX 111 given with or without the company's Advate octocog alfa met the primary endpoint in an open-label Phase III trial to treat von Willebrand disease (vWD). On-demand BAX-111 led to treatment success for treated bleeding episodes in 100% of the 22 patients who experienced bleeds during the trial. There were no reports of inhibitor development or thrombotic events. The trial enrolled 37 patients with severe hereditary vWD.
BHV, Islet report Phase IIb data for SGLT2 inhibitor
BHV Pharma Inc. (Research Triangle Park, N.C.) and Islet Sciences Inc. (OTCBB:ISLT) reported data on Wednesday from a pair of double-blind, dose-ranging Phase IIb trials evaluating remogliflozin etabonate (BHV091009) in treatment-naïve patients with Type II diabetes. In the first trial, all doses of twice-daily remogliflozin reduced HbA1c from baseline to week 12, the primary endpoint (reductions of 1-1.4%, p<0.001 for the dose response). In the second trial, once-daily remogliflozin at doses above the lowest dose tested reduced HbA1c from baseline to week 12 (reductions of 0.5-0.8%, p<0.047 for the dose response). Data from both trials will be presented at the American Diabetes Association meeting in June.
POLITICS & POLICY
Arizona compassionate use bill advances
The Arizona Senate passed a bill that would allow physicians to prescribe investigational products to eligible terminally ill patients who have no "comparable or satisfactory" FDA-approved treatment options. The bill would prohibit the state from taking any action against a doctor or health care institution that prescribes or treats a patient with an investigational treatment, defined as a drug, biologic or device that has completed Phase I testing but does not have FDA approval. The Arizona House of Representatives has already passed the bill, which now goes to Gov. Janice Brewer. If she does not veto the bill, it will be subject to voter approval in the state's November general election.