New year, new list: here are the 10 hottest Biotech companies I will watch closely in 2017 and why.
This list is not meant to be comprehensive and is in no particular order.
Super-pumped mRNA Therapy
BioNTech is Europe’s largest private Biotech with over 500 employees and is one of the three leading mRNA therapy companies in the world alongside CureVac and the money-magnet Moderna. At the end of 2016, it announced the biggest biotech deal ever signed in Europe with Genentech: €280M upfront and a 50/50 split on profits. The total size of the deal hasn’t been made public but I heard from our sources that it is massive. The rest of the pipeline is also very promising and 2017 will be a turning point for the company and for the whole mRNA field, which is still in its early days and lacking advanced clinical data.
A Mysterious Microbiome Startup
This is one of the most mysterious biotechs in Europe. The company went straight on the public market in 2014 with Woodford as an investor to raise over €100M, and didn’t even take the time to create a proper website (it just updated one and it actually looks good). The company focuses solely on getting the best talents, now over 100, to bring its microbiome pipeline and its manufacturing process forward as quickly as possible. 2017 will be the year when 4D Pharma enters the clinic with a Phase Ib trial and maybe some announcements regarding partnerships.
Getting to efficacy with Autologous CAR-T
The Belgian biotech has fully shifted towards its immuno-oncology cell therapy, and it seems to be a good choice after the recent failure of its historical Phase III cardiology program. While the technology looks very promising, is safe according to the Phase I data of September and convinced NASDAQ investors to invest $100M, it’s now time to show efficacy. Celyad will start Phase Ib trials this year both in Europe and the US.
Finally Entering Human Trials
This kind-of-Swiss Biotech, since most of its employees are now in Boston, is one of the three leading companies worldwide using CRISPR as a therapeutic tool. While CRIPSR is probably the most powerful gene-editing tool ever discovered, its potential as a therapy is far from demonstrated. Actually, it’s quite the opposite: while CRISPR Therapeutics and its rivals have raised massive rounds and done the biggest IPOs of the year, none of them has a product yet in humans. 2017 will be the year of CRISPR therapies in the clinic and the first results could help understand how the tool behaves in humans as a potential cure for severe diseases.
Demonstrating the potential of a functional HIV cure
In July 2016, this French biotech announced that its most advanced program in hepatitis B would likely fail its Phase III trials and the stock plummeted by 50%. The company now focuses on its HIV program instead and claims to have ‘one of the world’s most advanced functional HIV cures under development‘. Abivax announced positive Phase IIa results early last year and is currently running a second trial to better understand how the molecule targets the viral reservoirs. First results are expected in early 2017 und will indicate what strategy the company should follow in clinical development.
Serious Hope for Alzheimer’s
This German biotech is trying to tackle Alzheimer’s, the disease that has probably led to the most clinical failures, as exemplified in Eli Lilly’s recently failed Phase III. Probiodrug’s unique approach is a small-molecule inhibitor of the enzyme that leads to the formation of PGlu. The compound is currently in Phase IIa and results are expected in 2017. If positive, it could give hope to the company, its shareholders and the growing number of patients that are still waiting for promising clinical results.
Showing the commercial potential of Portable NGS
The Oxford-based biotech unicorn is seeking to disrupt the NGS market with a portable, quick and cheap sequencing device. In the last days of 2016, we interviewed the CEO when it announced the biggest fundraising of the year in Europe with over €120M. This fresh cash will be used to expand its commercial activities and push its technology into the Asian market. For Oxford Nanopore, 2017 will be a transition period, shifting from 11 years of burning cash to generating revenues. It will be a ‘real life’ test to show its potential to rival the mastodont Illumina and show the possibilities that its portable device offers.
Roughly 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally every year, but only 700k tons are bio-based and biodegradable. The French Carbios is one of the most promising industrial biotechs active in this space; its technological platform could significantly push the field forward. After signing a €18M joint-venture in 2016 to scale it its production, 2017 will be the year to demonstrate results.
Big round and top CEO
In 2016, Hookipa Biotech announced the largest Austrian fundraising of last year: €27M from top-notch investors including Sofinnova and Forbion. In addition, it hired one of the best biotech CEOs in Europe, Joern Aldag. This should open up interesting perspectives for 2017 and the development of Hookipa’s viral vaccine platform. Its first candidate, HB101, a vaccine to prevent human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) infections, started Phase I trials last year and preliminary results should be known in 2017.
Using a massive €100M fundraising
ADC Therapeutics did the 2nd biggest fundraising of the year to develop antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for oncology applications, a hot field in 2016. The fresh cash, coming in part from AstraZeneca, will be invested in advancing nothing less than 6 clinical programs in 2017 and early 2018. Two of its candidates, ADCT-301 and ADCT-402, are being tested in Phase Ia to treat subtypes of lymphoma and leukemia.
What do you think? Which Biotechs are in your top list to watch? I would be curious to hear what you think in the comments below 😉
Featured image: jaroslava V/shutterstock.com, Lightspring/shutterstock.com, Sebastian Kaulitzki/shutterstock.com, Juan Gaertner, Pixabay
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