Hello, Xconomy readers! I figured I’d formally introduce myself here, as I’ve grabbed the reins on these East Coast Life Sciences roundups and will be compiling them moving forward.
I’ve been an avid Xconomy reader for several years while working as a healthcare writer for The Deal, and have always admired the quality of the content produced here. My goal is not only to lessen the burden on Luke Timmerman, Xconomy’s National Biotech Editor, but also match the lofty standards he, and the entire staff here, have set. I hope you all enjoy the coverage. Without further ado, here’s this week’s roundup:
—Cambridge, MA-based Bind Therapeutics has teamed up with London-based AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) to co-develop and co-market a cancer drug that uses Bind’s proprietary nanoparticle technology. Bind is eligible to get as much as $69 million in upfront and milestone payments through the deal and potentially another $130 million more if the unspecified drug hits certain regulatory and sales goals. The partnership is the third Bind has struck since the calendar flipped to 2013, following collaborations with New York-based Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Thousand Oaks, CA-based Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN).
—Cambridge, MA-based Gen9 secured $21 million through an equity investment and collaboration with Santa Clara, CA-based life sciences toolmaker Agilent Technologies. The deal gives Agilent (NYSE: A) an equity stake in Gen9, a seat on the company’s board, and the ability to meld its own gene synthesis library into Gen9’s technology platform, called “BioFab.” Gen9’s plan is to enable cheaper and more accurate synthesis of custom-made genes, which should make it easier for scientists to test new ideas for making pharmaceuticals, biofuels, or industrial enzymes, Luke detailed earlier this week.
—Cambridge, MA-based Radius Health still hasn’t taken itself public, but it hasn’t found private financing hard to come by either. The company announced Thursday that new investor F2 Biosciences III has joined with existing backers such as MPM Capital, Brookside Capital, and BB Biotech Ventures to provide $43 million in new equity financing. Radius, which planned an IPO in February 2012 before yanking the offering in November, is developing BA058, an injectable osteoporosis drug, and also plans to sell a follow-on version in the form of a transdermal patch. Radius has secured $240 million in private financing since its inception in 2003.
—Cambridge, MA-based Cydan, a biotech startup accelerator targeting orphan diseases, used a $16 million financing round from New Enterprise Associates, Pfizer Venture Investments, and Alexandria Real Estate Equities to get itself off the ground this month. Cydan plans to form up to five rare-disease entities over the next four years, with the first of them coming in 2014. NEA general partner David Mott told me that the idea for Cydan crystallized over the course of two decades of work at MedImmune and Shire, where he gained an understanding of the limitations of the rare-disease business model.
—Cambridge, MA-based OvaScience is about to graduate from the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board. The company, which is developing infertility treatments based on stem cell science, has been approved for listing on the Nasdaq, and expects to begin trading under the symbol “OVAS” on April 30. OvaScience closed at $10.54 per share on the OTC bulletin board Thursday, April 24, up more than 8 percent from a $9.75 close on Wednesday.
—Consulting firm Ernst & Young released its latest annual industry report “Beyond Borders” this week, and the results show that biotech executives are resisting change in an evolving healthcare landscape. Luke wrote this week that the 92-page report, which comes from a survey of biotech executives at 62 companies in the U.S. and Europe, reveals that even though 93 percent of respondents said it is “very important” or “important” to demonstrate the value of new healthcare products to payers, only 11 percent of them have added people to their team with payer expertise. The report also suggests that biotech companies need to do a better job showing Big Pharma that their products add significant value to the healthcare system, rather than just a marginal benefit for patients at a higher cost.