Icahn’s Nominee to Yahoo’s Board Winds up on Biogen Idec’s, Epix CEO Steps Down, Caliper Comes to Drugs’ Rescue, & More Life Sciences News

7/30/08

The theme of the week in New England life sciences news was tools and diagnostics.

—Fresh off a proxy-battle win against activist investor Carl Icahn, Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) named former hedge fund manager Brian Posner to its board of directors. Posner was one of 10 people Icahn nominated to the board of Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO), but was not one of the three Icahn tried (unsuccessfully) to get on Biogen’s board.

—Luke took the measure of Hopkinton, MA-based Caliper Life Sciences (NASDAQ: CALP), a maker of what he called “picks and shovels for the gold-seeking biotechs.” Caliper’s optical imaging technology, for instance, kept what’s now one of the hottest cancer treatments on the market from being put on ice.

—Luke also looked beyond the headlines about Waltham, MA-based molecular diagnostics developer BG Medicine, which recently pulled its planned IPO and raised $40 million in venture capital. BG Medicine’s tests are designed to help doctors (and insurers) sort how who will and will not benefit from sometimes-pricey treatments.

—Watertown, MA’s Acusphere (NASDAQ: ACUS) cut about a quarter of its staff to conserve cash as it waits for an FDA decision on its cardiovascular contrast agent Imagify. Malorye explained the product’s potential last fall.

—Just days after telling Luke about his company’s latest Alzheimer’s-drug data, CEO Michael Kauffman left Lexington, MA-based Epix Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: EPIX) to “pursue other opportunities.”

—The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center announced its seven-member board of directors, who in turn voted to approve $7 million worth of grants to be given out under the state’s $1 billion life-sciences plan.

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