RXi’s Debut, Sirtris’ Surprising Deal, Hydra’s Big Financing Round, & More of the Last Week in Life Sciences

3/19/08

The past week finally saw a life sciences firm debut on the stock market (although it was a spin-off rather than an IPO). That and more news below.

—RXi Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: RXII), the Worcester, MA-based spin-off of Los Angeles’s CytRx, made its debut on the NASDAQ Capital Market last week. Shares of the firm, which is one of a growing list of local companies formed around RNAi technology, rose as high as $23.95 in the first day of trading, but have fallen to settle in around $8 to $9.50 so far this week.

—Cambridge, MA-based Sirtris Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SIRT) inked a deal with Bayer CropScience focused on the development of hardier crops (and causing Wade to do a double-take).

—Salient Surgical Technologies of Dover, NH, filed for an IPO worth up to $86.25 million. The firm, formerly known as TissueLink Medical, makes devices for sealing blood vessels during surgery without cautery.

—Hydra Biosciences closed a $34 million Series C funding round led by Advanced Technology Ventures and joined by Polaris Venture Partners, BioVentures Investors, Abingworth, Lilly Ventures, and New Enterprise Associates. That brings the total raised to date by the Cambridge, MA, firm, which is developing pain treatments and other drugs based on ion-channel targeting, to over $63 million.

—Diomed (AMEX: DIO)—a minimally invasive medicine firm in Andover, MA—filed for bankruptcy and announced its intention to sell some of its operating assets for between $6 million and $7 million to Biolitec, a German medical laser manufacturer.

—Marlborough, MA’s Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS) hired Boston-based investment bank Leerink Swann to explore a possible sale and other strategic options. The move came just weeks after money manager Kenneth Luskin of Santa Monica, CA-based Intrinsic Value Asset Management—which owns 8 percent of Exact’s common stock—called for a sale of the company.

—And from the just-plain-cool department, first-time contributing writer Benjamin Lester profiled Providence, RI-based Afferent, which is developing devices for stroke rehabilitation and other applications based on a sort of freaky physics phenomenon called stochastic resonance. Definitely worth a read if you missed it the first time around.

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