Two years on from establishing the first such fund, Dutch venture capital firm Forbion has announced a second growth opportunities fund, to be devoted to late-stage biotechs in Europe. The new fund has reached a first close of €470 million (US$500.6 million) and is expected to meet its hard cap of €600 million over the summer. As with the first growth fund, fund II will take a three-pronged approach, of providing private capital for mature clinical development-stage assets; putting pre-IPO funding into companies that are near the point of completing a public listing; and injecting capital and expertise into undervalued companies languishing on public markets.

With a $194M fundraiser and supportive phase III results in toddlers, DBV plots comeback for peanut allergy patch

In August 2020, it looked like DBV Technologies SA was in considerable trouble after the U.S. FDA served it with a rejection for its Viaskin Peanut allergy patch, raising concerns efficacy could be compromised because the product wasn’t sticking to the skin well. But could the Montrouge, France-based firm be making a comeback with the technology? It’s raised $194 million, corresponding to around €181 million, in private investment in public equity (PIPE) financing from sale of its shares, in a deal expected to close on Monday, June 13.

Drug developer stocks three times lower than 2021

After a sharp drop in April, BioWorld’s Drug Developers Index (BDDI) is beginning to rise, although it is not yet showing what many investors would like to see, and it remains at one of its lowest points in 18 months. As of June 8, BDDI was down nearly 29% for the year, following the same path as the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index (down 21%). The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 9.4%. In 2021, drug developer stocks were down 9.5% at their lowest points at the end of March and May.

Charm taking AI into structure-based drug design with $50M series A 

Artificial intelligence is moving further into drug discovery with the launch of Charm Therapeutics Ltd., which arrives on the scene with a $50 million series A round. The London-based company claims its 3D system for predicting protein folding will overcome the current limitations of structure-based drug design, working from the primary sequence of a protein and the chemical structure of a ligand to simultaneously single out binding sites and model the fit and affinity of small molecules.

Newco news: Profoundbio completes $70M series A round to advance ADC programs to the clinic

Profoundbio Inc. closed a $70 million series A financing round that will see it advance its two lead antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) programs to the clinic. The financing was led by Sequoia China, and current investors Lilly Asia Venture, Oriza, Chang'an Capital, LYFE Capital and K2VC also participated in the round. Following the closing, Lynn Yang from Sequoia China will join Profoundbio's board. The Suzhou, China, and Woodinville, Wash.-based company has raised a total of more than $138 million in the past two years.

Hengrui invests $301M to launch investment firm; achieves positive phase III data

Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co. Ltd., its subsidiary Shengdi Investment Management Holding Co. Ltd., and Hengrui Group are to invest ¥2.01 billion (US$301 million) to jointly set up an equity investment company targeting pharmaceutical and health care companies. The investment fund is expected to be beneficial to Hengrui’s business and strategic development, and it is in line with the company's current and future business development and long-term development plans. Industry observers noted this is a sign that Hengrui is speeding up its business development activities. They also think it is good timing for Hengrui to buy assets in the midst of a more depressed market.

US prepares for shots for tots

More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly 18 months since a vaccine was first available for adults, the U.S. is on the cusp of having vaccines available to the youngest Americans. “We have waited a long time for this moment,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Ashish Jha said today, noting that the first shots in the arms of children aged 6 months to 4 years could come as soon as June 21. But that’s only if the FDA authorizes the vaccines and the CDC recommends their use in that youngest age group. Those decisions are expected next week.

House passes FDA user fee bill, but conflict with Senate version looms

The U.S. House of Representatives voted June 8 to pass the legislation reauthorizing a number of user fee programs at the FDA, a welcome bit of good news for FDA-regulated industries. Nonetheless, there are several substantive differences between H.R. 7667 and the parallel Senate bill, differences that may take some doing to overcome before a final bill can be forwarded to the Oval Office.

OIG sees deficits in NIH vetting of grantees with ties to foreign governments

The issue of life science espionage continues to reverberate across the U.S., and a new report by the Office of Inspector General suggests that vulnerabilities in the U.S. have not been adequately addressed. The OIG report states that more than two thirds of NIH grantees failed to meet at least one requirement for investigator disclosures about their activities related to foreign entities, including governments, a problem OIG says is in dire need of a fix.

The BioWorld Insider Podcast: New therapies vie to change fatal course of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

As multidisciplinary care extends survival and improves the quality of life for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), can a host of new ALS drugs vying to slow its progression make a difference? A surprise extension of the U.S. FDA review for Amylyx Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s AMX-0035 to review new data, plus near-term readouts from a major ALS platform trial may soon provide answers. Join the BioWorld Insider podcast as we talk with executives from Amylyx and Clene Inc., and a key Penn State ALS expert on what the future of medicine may hold for ALS patients.

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