An $872 million week for Philly biotech companies
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Joseph N. DiStefano
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Amid a surging U.S. stock market that is helping fund drug developers and other growth companies, five Philadelphia biotech firms attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in out-of-town investment and acquisition capital last week, notes Martin Lehr, CEO and cofounder of Context Therapeutics, a Drexel University spin-off.
Amazing, says Lehr, whose own firm is developing Sigma1, a drug for use against cancer and other diseases, and is funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute and wealthy investors.
The deals include:
Up to $425 million for InfaCare Pharmaceutical Corp., the 16-year-old, Trevose-based developer of Stanate, a treatment that helps babies with severe jaundice (which turns them yellow) avoid blood transfusions and hospitals. Founder Robert A. Vukovich, 73, sold the company to Mallinckrodt Inc. for an $80 million upfront payment, plus up to $345 million in future payments if Stanate meets sales projections.
$330 million (net proceeds) in a secondary stock offering for Spark Therapeutics. The University City gene therapy developer, based on Katherine A. High s work at Children s Hospital of Philadelphia, hired JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs to sell more stock; they priced 4.4 million shares at $76 each. Spark s current clinical trials include treatments for hemophilia and a rare eye disease; its commercial partners include Pfizer.
$62 million in third-round venture-capital fund-raising by Complexa Inc., the Radnor firm run by former AstraZeneca and startup veteran CEO Joshua Tarnoff (a LaSalle graduate) and medical head Diane K Jorkasky (formerly of Endo and SmithKline, and a veteran of the Penn Medicine staff). Complexa said it will use the money to boost clinical development of CXA-10, which fights an orphan kidney disease.
$42 million in second-round venture funding from Versant Ventures, Foresite Capital, and Abingworth for VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Malvern developer of antibiotics for drug-resistant infections, run by Christopher J. Burns, formerly of Novartis Protez division. Versant also boasts a National Institutes of Health grant and funding from London-based Wellcome Trust.
-$12.7 million from New Ventures III and earlier investors for Enterin, a Philadelphia firm headed by Georgetown University transplant specialist and Magainin Pharmaceuticals Inc. founder Michael A. Zasloff. Enterin is developing ENT-01, a treatment it says repairs the dysfunctional gut-brain axis in Parkinson s and other neurodegenerative disease patients, to relieve constipation, among other conditions.