ZS Genetics Enters the X Prize Fray, Biogen Falls on Rituxan News, Acusphere Takes a Step Toward Clinical Finish Line, & More Life Sciences News

4/30/08

While we were gearing up to discuss the future of life sciences in New England (more on that soon), here’s what was happening in the present.

—Cambridge, MA-based Constellation Pharmaceuticals picked up $32 million in a Series A financing round co-led by Third Rock Ventures, The Column Group, and Venrock. Third Rock and Millennium Pharmaceuticals co-founder Mark Levin is serving as the startup’s interim CEO.

—Acusphere Inc. (NASDAQ: ACUS) of Watertown, MA, announced it has submitted its lead product candidate for FDA approval. Back in November, Malorye described the 14-year-old firm’s struggle to commercialize the product—an ultrasound imaging agent for cardiac testing—before it runs out of money.

—Shares of Biogen Idec(NASDAQ: BIIB) closed down 5.2 percent Tuesday on news that a clinical trial of Rituxan in patients with lupus failed to meet its primary endpoint or any of its secondary endpoints. Rituxan, a joint effort of Biogen and Genentech, is already approved for the treatment of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis.

ZS Genetics entered the Archon X Prize for Genomics competition. The Reading, MA, firm joins local contenders 454 Life Sciences of Branford, CT, and the Personal Genome X-Team (PGx), led by Harvard Medical School’s George Church, in the competition for the $10 million prize.

—Stealthy startup Arch Therapeutics inked a licensing deal with MIT giving the firm a lock on technology to stop and prevent bleeding. The licensed IP covers a family of clear liquids containing nanoscale peptides that self-assemble into a biodegradable gel upon contacting a wound.

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