MIT and Startup Sue Affymetrix, Enlight Garners Big Pharma Backers, Genocea Targets Cheaper Vaccines, & More Life Sciences News

7/16/08

Perhaps nostalgic for his days poring through the documents in the iRobot case, Bob uncovered what could wind up being a doozy of a patent dispute—this time involving gene chips rather than battle bots. Here’s that, and the rest of the week’s life sciences news.

—MIT and E8 Pharmaceuticals—a startup founded by MIT and Harvard professors—filed a patent-infringement suit against Santa Clara, CA-based Affymetrix (NASDAQ: AFFX). Bob got the details on what could turn out to be a big case, given that the technology in question represents a substantial and growing portion of Affymetrix’s business, and that the plaintiffs’ attorneys are the ones who recently won a $612 million settlement from the company that makes the BlackBerry.

—Luke profiled the bid of Cambridge, MA-based Genocea Biosciences to make a more affordable alternative to Prevnar, the best-selling vaccine ever. The Seattle-based global health nonprofit PATH is funding the effort.

—Pfizer, Merck, and Eli Lilly came together with the help of PureTech Ventures of Boston, MA, to get Boston-based Enlight Biosciences off to a $39 million start.

The FDA agreed to review an application for Momenta Pharmaceuticals’ (NASDAQ: MNTA) generic version of the multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone. The drug, which Momenta is developing with partner Sandoz, would be the Cambridge, MA-based firm’s first marketed product.

—InnovationRx of Newton, MA, launched its automated medication reminder service, which alerts patients via e-mail, text message, or phone to take their medicines and refill their prescriptions.

—Cambridge, MA-based cancer drug developer Infinity Pharmaceuticals halted development of its IPI-504 as a treatment for prostate cancer, after failing to find evidence of efficacy in a mid-stage clinical trial; it’s continuing to test the drug as a treatment for other cancers.

—Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, also of Cambridge, raised $8.4 million from Abingworth, Oxford Bioscience Partners, and Skyline Ventures, bringing the first-round venture financing for the RNAi firm to $21.4 million.

—Cumberland, RI-based specialty drugmaker Collegium Pharmaceutical raised a fourth round of venture financing worth $20 million; the deal was led by Frazier Healthcare Ventures and joined by Boston Millennia Partners and Westfield Capital Management. Collegium will use the cash to further development of its abuse-resistant version of oxycodone.

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