Monday, December 19, 2011
Just as statins help lower high cholesterol levels to reduce the risk of heart attacks, researchers are seeking a comparable approach for people with large amounts of beta amyloid, an abnormal protein in the brain commonly found in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Medicines would clear those proteins before any signs of memory loss or other early symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear.
Now that many mid-tier CROs have been acquired by either equity investment firms or other CROs and the trend has slowed, a new form of consolidation is emerging. Robust CROs are rounding out their offerings with small but strategic acquisitions to make them bigger, stronger and more complete. The ultimate goal: to continue winning lucrative strategic outsourcing agreements from sponsors.
ImmusanT has raised $20 million in Series A financing from Vatera Healthcare Partners to advance development of the biotechnology company’s immunotherapeutic vaccine Nexvax2, companion diagnostic and monitoring tool for celiac disease. The proceeds will fund the Nexvax2 therapeutic and diagnostic development plan to the point of demonstrating proof-of-concept. ImmusanT expects to initiate the next clinical trial in early 2012.
Lineagen and Fast Forward, a nonprofit subsidiary of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, have formed an alliance to fund the clinical development and validation of a blood-based assay for multiple sclerosis (MS). The goal of the program is to develop a test that can aid clinicians in diagnosing MS, distinguishing it from other neurological disorders, and providing the prognostic information needed to help guide treatment decisions and response to therapies.
Ipsen’s US-based subsidiary, Biomeasure, and its North American Operations group announced that it will further expand its commitment, investment and commercial presence in the US market. Ipsen will make a multi-million dollar capital investment in its Milford, MA research and development and technical operations facility, and will relocate US Operations headquarters from Brisbane, CA, to Bridgewater, NJ, in order to enhance the North American commercial organization.
Soligenix, a development stage biopharmaceutical company, has initiated a next generation anthrax vaccine development program pursuant to a field-exclusive option agreement with Harvard University to negotiate a license under patent rights that cover prophylactic uses of a modified anthrax toxin protein. Initial development work will be covered pursuant to a previously issued $9.4 million National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) grant enabling development of thermo-stable ricin and anthrax vaccines.
Cerulean Pharma has closed a $15 million Series D financing with participation from new investor, CVF, an affiliate of Henry Crown of Chicago, Illinois, as well as full participation from all other existing investors, including Polaris Venture Partners, Venrock, Lilly Ventures, Lux Capital, and Bessemer Venture Partners. In conjunction with the closing of the financing, Robert Paull, a co-founder and managing partner at Lux Capital, has joined Cerulean’s board of directors as the director designated jointly by Lux Capital and CVF.
Charles River Laboratories International has provided guidance for 2012 and updated guidance for 2011. James C. Foster, Chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, “We made significant progress in 2011 on our four key initiatives, which include operating margin expansion, improved free cash flow, disciplined investment in existing growth businesses, and returning value to shareholders. In 2012, we will maintain our focus on these initiatives and on stimulating sales growth.”
Raymond Hill has stepped down as CEO of PPD, less than three months after taking the top post at the U.S.-based global CRO, according to a report from PharmaTimes. The announcement followed last week’s completion of PPD’s acquisition by affiliates of global investment firms The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman and the company officially being taken private.