East Coast Biotech Roundup: Sigal, Radius, SHIN-NY, & More

2/28/14Follow @benthefidler

Perhaps the biggest story in the biotech world this week came out west, where Brisbane, CA-based Intermune (NASDAQ: ITMN) nailed a big late-stage study and saw its shares soar more than 160 percent. But there was plenty of action on the East Coast as well. We’ve got all of it wrapped up below:

—Elliott Sigal stunned the industry when he abruptly walked away from Bristol-Myers Squibb in April 2013. But the former R&D chief of the New York pharma giant has started to re-emerge in other parts of the biotech ecosystem, like board seats at Spark Therapeutics and the Melanoma Research Alliance and a part-time venture partner/advisory gig with New Enterprise Associates. I spoke with Sigal recently about his post-Bristol life, the lessons he’s learned along the way, and the new science he’s keying in on.

— Cambridge, MA-based Radius Health switched CEOs three times last fall. Now, the revamped company is looking to become the latest local biotech to go public. Radius plans to raise as much as $86.25 million through an IPO, which would help finance the development of its osteoporosis drugs. Radius, incidentally, attempted to go public in 2011. But then-CEO Michael Wyzga told me last year that the company was set to price in late October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy barreled through New York City and shut down the financial markets for days. Rather than price right in the middle of pre- or post-election turmoil, Radius ultimately yanked the IPO a few weeks later.

— A group of 33 New York Healthcare IT entrepreneurs and investors have petitioned New York legislators to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $65 million funding proposal for the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY), an initiative to coordinate a centralized system of electronic health records in the state so they can be shared by all of its doctors and health facilities. The petitioners, among them StartUp Health, Mana Health (which I profiled back in August), and New Leaf Venture Partners, say the funding would help attract new companies and create local health tech jobs. State legislature will vote on the bill by March 31.

—Cambridge-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) hasn’t yet decided whether to exercise its option to Isis Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ: ISIS) experimental spinal muscular atrophy drug, but the Carlsbad, CA-based company’s shares have climbed considerably over the past week after it revealed some interim results from an early study testing the drug candidate in a group of children with the crippling disorder. Isis cut a deal with Biogen in 2012 to co-develop the drug, and has since received more than $45 million from Biogen in various payments. Isis could get a whole lot more, however, if Biogen likes the data it sees and opts to pick up worldwide rights to the drug.

—Seven years ago, Merck inked a partnership with Cambridge-based Ariad Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARIA) to co-develop a sarcoma drug, ridaforolimus, in a heavily backloaded deal with potentially more than $850 million in potential future payments down the road. This week, as part of its 2013 annual financial report, Ariad disclosed that Merck terminated the deal. Merck will officially return the rights it holds to ridaforlimus in November. The FDA rejected the drug in 2012.

—- The biotech IPO window has been wide open for several months now, but New York-based Everyday Health will soon find out if public investors will look at digital health just as fondly. Everyday Health plans to raise up to $115 million through an IPO. The company manages the websites and mobile applications of several wellness, exercise, and dieting sites, and provides data and analytics services. It had about $155 million in revenue in 2013, mostly from advertising and sponsorships, but suffered an $18.23 million net loss over the course of the year. Rho Ventures and WF Holding, an entity controlled by Revolution chairman and CEO Steve Case, each hold 25.4 percent stakes in the company.

—After twice being rejected by the FDA, Bedford, MA-based Anika Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ANIK) was given the green light to begin selling its osteoarthritis drug, Monovisc, in the U.S. The drug, already approved in several countries such as Canada and the U.K., is a single-shot injection of a formulation of hyaluronic acid used to curb knee-joint pain in people with osteoarthritis. It’s been approved as a treatment for patients who don’t respond to analgesics. A unit of Johnson & Johnson will distribute the drug in the U.S. as part of a partnership it signed with Anika in 2011. Anika already sells a different formulation of hyaluronic acid, Orthovisc, that is administered through multiple injections. Shares of the company soared more than 45 percent following the news.

—Several local biotechs released their full 2013 results. Among them: Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS), Sarepta Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SRPT), Infinity Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INFI), Acceleron Pharma (NASDAQ: XLRN), Foundation Medicine (NASDAQ: FMI), and Aegerion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AEGR).

—New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) won a breakthrough therapy designation from the FDA for its all-oral combination treatment for hepatitis C, daclatasvir and asunaprevir. That designation means that the FDA will work more closely with Bristol to speed up development of the therapy than it otherwise would.

—Waltham, MA-based Synchroneuron began a mid-stage clinical trial testing a drug candidate it’s been developing to treat tardive dyskinesia, a condition characterized by involuntary movements of the face. Synchroneuron expects to enroll 90 patients in 12 sites across the U.S. The company’s experimental drug, SYN-102, is a proprietary formulation of acamprosate calcium—a compound often used to treat alcohol dependence. Xconomy profiled Synchroneuron in 2012.

Ben Fidler is Xconomy's Deputy Biotechnology Editor. You can e-mail him at bfidler@xconomy.com Follow @benthefidler

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