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Best of the Blogs, Biotechnology: Valeant Makes Entrée Into Dermatology by Buying Medicis


Plus, Alexion makes waves with anti-anemia drug.

This column highlights the most interesting and useful business and financial commentary on biotechnology from around the Web.

Wall Street Journal
Link: Valeant Pharmaceuticals to Acquire Medicis
"Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX) has agreed to buy Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp. (MRX) for $2.6 billion, the latest in a string of acquisitions that have transformed the Canadian drug maker into a multibillion-dollar global company."

"The deal aims to make Valeant a major player in dermatological pharmaceuticals, both for the treatment of acne and in the market for aesthetic skin care, where it would go up against Botox, which is used to smooth wrinkles, Valeant Chief Executive Michael Pearson said in an interview."

Link: How a $440,000 Drug Is Turning Alexion Into Biotech's New Innovation Powerhouse
"The pharmaceutical business is not kind to entrepreneurs. It takes more than a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital to get from cool idea to marketed drug, which is why the founders of Amgen (AMGN), Genentech and Gilead (GILD) were gone by the time those companies became big successes.

"But nestled near a pastoral local farm 40 minutes outside of New Haven, Conn., amid ears of corn and rows of beets, is the exception to that rule. There, an unassuming, self-deprecating doctor named Leonard Bell still serves as chief executive of Alexion (ALXN) Pharmaceuticals, the company he founded after he quit his medical professorship at Yale 20 years ago."

Link: Roche Ramps Up Alzheimer's Drug Trial As Rivals Stumble
"Roche Holding AG (RHHBY) believes it has moved into pole position in the race to develop an Alzheimer's drug that can change the course of the disease after its rivals suffered setbacks in the past month.

"The Swiss drugmaker has more than doubled the size of a clinical trial of its experimental drug gantenerumab in patients who have yet to develop dementia, putting it in the vanguard of attempts to catch the disease in its early stages."

"While the project is high-risk and the approach unproven, Roche is hopeful that it will see an effect because previous brain scan tests have shown that gantenerumab can reduce amyloid plaques in the brain, which are linked to Alzheimer's, more rapidly than other drugs."

In Vivo
Link: Financings of the Fortnight Says It's Not Ova Till It's Ova
"A two-year-old biotech trying to get listed on the over-the-counter exchanges wouldn't normally qualify for much notice. But OvaScience is different. First, its founders include Christoph Westphal, who has co-founded and either sold or taken public several companies, often with Michelle Dipp, another OvaScience cofounder, its CEO, as well as a partner with Westphal in Longwood Fund. Their biggest coup was the sale of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for $720 million in 2008, and they also raised a few eyebrows while still at GSK for their side project selling dietary supplements related to Sirtris's compounds."

Financial Times
Link: 'Junk' DNA Found to Be Genetic Switches
"A global collaboration has discovered a vast new range of biochemical activity in the human genome. It shows that most of what scientists had dismissed as 'junk DNA' is in fact a gigantic control panel with millions of switches regulating the activity of human genes.

"The Encode results offer another route to understanding and treating disease, by focusing on the regions of the genome that control the activity of genes rather than on the genes themselves.

"Using new technology for DNA analysis not available to the original Human Genome Project, the Encode researchers discovered that more than 80% of DNA was biochemically active in at least one type of human cell. It included 4m genetic switches.""
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