A Diagnostics Non-Profit Takes the 100K Prize, Greenfuel Gets a $13.9M Bump for Algae Bioreactors, Beth Israel Teams With Google, and More Life Sciences News

5/21/08

For-profit firms are the bread and butter of the New England biotech startup scene, but it was nice to see a new non-profit getting a little love last week. Here’s that and the rest of the week’s life sciences news.

—A non-profit venture aimed at providing cheap, portable, easy-to-use diagnostics tools for healthcare workers in the developing world took the prize at the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. The venture, called Diagnostics-For-All, is built around paper-based diagnostics technology developed in the lab of Harvard professor (and Xconomist) George Whitesides.

—Continuing to bounce back from technical setbacks that last summer resulted in the layoff of half its staff and the stepping down of its CEO, Cambridge, MA’s Greenfuel Technologies raised $13.9 million in new venture funds. The financing—from Polaris Venture Partners (whose general partner Bob Metcalfe is Greenfuel’s interim CEO), Access Private Equity, and Draper Fisher Jurvetson—is an extension of the firm’s Series B round. Greenfuel is developing algae bioreactor systems to convert carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel plants into clean-burning biofuels

—Xanthus Pharmaceuticals of Cambridge, MA, a developer of therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases, was acquired by British drug company Antisoma in a $52 million stock transaction.

—Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center became one of the first two healthcare facilities to partner with newly launched Google Health. Eventually all 40,000 monthly users of BIDMC’s PatientSite portal will be able to export their records on their diagnoses, medications, and allergies to Google Health’s database, which is designed to help consumers manage their own medical records in a secure online environment.

—The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council teamed with the American Cancer Society to challenge MBC member companies to fund postdoctoral fellowships in cancer research. AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and Novartis have each already promised to fund one of the $140,000, three-year fellowships; the goal of the “MBC Cancer Research Challenge” is to get an additional 10 such fellowships funded in 2008.

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