GSK Takes Sirtris and Taps Alnylam Venture, FDA Deals Genzyme Drug a Blow, Resolvyx Finances Fish-Oil Drugs, & More Life Sciences News

4/23/08

Spring has definitely sprung for New England life sciences firms—there are new financings, partnerships, acquisitions, and the like cropping up all over. Let’s start with the big one.

—Sirtris Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SIRT) of Cambridge, MA, was snapped up for a cool $720 million by pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK). The company will continue to operate as an autonomous unit in Cambridge, and current CEO Christoph Westphal will keep hold of the reins.

—GSK also tapped the resources of Cambridge’s Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY), at least indirectly. It forged an alliance worth up to $600 million with Regulus, a joint venture between Alnylam and Isis Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ISIS) targeting inflammatory diseases.

—The FDA rejected a request from Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) for clearance to sell batches of the protein drug Myozyme made at the firm’s Boston plant. Genzyme will have to file a separate application to market the drug produced at that plant, despite the fact that Myozyme made at another of Genzyme’s plants was approved in 2006.

—Cambridge, MA-based Stromedix, which is developing drugs that target fibrosis, a common mechanism of organ failure, raised $25 million in a Series B financing round led by New Leaf Venture Partners and joined by Bessemer Venture Partners, Red Abbey Venture Partners, Atlas Venture, and Frazier Healthcare Ventures.

—Bedford, MA’s Resolvyx Pharmaceuticals of Bedford, MA, also closed a $25 million financing round from the likes of Biogen Idec, Flagship Ventures, CHL Medical Partners, and Atlas Venture. The cash will support Resolvyx’s efforts to turn the science of fish oil into drugs for a host of different inflammatory diseases.

—And speaking of Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB), the biotech leader announced its own slate of candidates for the soon-to-be-open seats on its board. Eschewing the nominees put forth by activist investor Carl Icahn, Biogen is backing current board members Phil Sharp (the firm’s co-founder), Cecil B. Pickett, and Lynn Schenk, and newcomer Stelios Papadopoulos, a prominent retired investment banker.

—Pharmaceutical firm EMD Serono pledged $50 million to build a new research center in Billerica, MA. The center should be ready in 2010 and create 100 new jobs.

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