Biotech Stocks: A Look At the Most Promising Biotech Stocks

PRAN NASDAQ PRAN Prana Biotechnology

The oft-trodden path for a startup biotech is to aim for either a buyout or an IPO—or at minimum, a partnership with a big pharmaceutical company—before dealing with the hefty price tag of a Phase 3 study. One local biotech, however, took on the risk of bucking that trend—and succeeded. That story and much more below.

Boston and Hayward, CA-based Intarcia turned heads earlier this year when it bagged a whopping $200 million private equity financing round led by a group of investors like RA Capital and Farallon Capital Management. This past week, the company backed up those numbers by releasing data from two successful Phase 3 trials of a drug/device combination therapy for type 2 diabetes.

ITCA 650 is a tiny, implantable pump that steadily secretes the diabetes drug exenatide to keep blood sugar levels in check. Intarcia’s hook is that patients would have the pump implanted once or twice a year to manage their blood sugar levels, rather than dealing with daily or weekly injections or the peaks and valleys in drug concentration associated with other oral and injectable therapies.

Biotech Stock News

Cambridge, MA-based Visterra raised $30 million in a Series B round that’ll help develop the company’s first drug candidates, a flu antibody called VIS410 and a dengue fever prospect named VIS513, into clinical trials. The venture arm of Merck (Merck Research Labs Venture Fund), Singapore investment fund Temasek, and its subsidiary Vertex Venture Holdings co-led the round.

All are new investors, joining existing Visterra backers Polaris Partners, Flagship Ventures, Lux Capital, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Omega Funds. Visterra is run by ex-Amag Pharmaceuticals CEO Brian Pereira.

Plenty of news this past week from Atlas Venture. First, the Boston firm announced it had hired Jason Rhodes, the former president and CFO of Epizyme (NASDAQ EPZM), as a partner in its life sciences group. Then, Atlas split itself in two. Its tech partners will start up a new, still-unnamed fund next year, while its life sciences team will keep the Atlas name.

Biotech Financial News

New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE BMY) has cut a deal with Novartis to test its cancer immunotherapy drug, nivolumab (Opdivo), in combination with three of the Swiss drugmaker’s own drugs in trials for lung cancer. Pharmas like Bristol have been cutting several of these types of deals as part of an industry-wide effort to see which cancer immunotherapy drugs work best together.

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