Dyax and Vertex Drugs Move Toward Market, Taligen Moves to MA, Covidien Moves Into Venture Territory, & More Life Sciences News

8/20/08

Two Boston-area drug developers—Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Dyax—saw their lead drug candidates take important steps toward the market this week. And that’s not all that happened…

—Luke took a peak at four-year-old Taligen Therapeutics, which last month moved its headquarters from Aurora, CO, to Cambridge, MA, when new CEO Abbie Celniker joined the firm. Celniker’s hoping to mine local human resources to bolster Taligen’s efforts to develop new treatments for inflammatory diseases.

—Shares of Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) took a dip when the Wall Street Journal charged that the medical device maker had used a faulty statistical method to support its FDA application for a coronary stent currently awaiting approval.

—Is your town “BioReady?” A new program run by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council advises local officials “how best to lure life sciences companies to expand into their jurisdictions,” Luke discovered.

Ryan tracked down Johnson & Johnson’s vice president of tech transfer and university relations in an effort to find out which Boston-area institutions are getting pieces of J&J’s giant R&D pie. On the (partial) list he procured: Harvard’s Technology Development Accelerator Fund and the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT).

—Newton, MA-based Novelos Therapeutics (OTC:NVLT) raised $3 million in a private placement of stock; the money should fund the firm’s drug development programs, targeting cancer and hepatitis, through the end of the year.

—Dyax (NASDAQ: DYAX) of Cambridge, MA—long known as the developer of so-called phage display technology licensed by other firms as a drug-discovery tool—took an important step toward having a marketed product of its own when its lead drug candidate, DX-88, performed well in a late-stage clinical trial. The company plans to apply for FDA approval of DX-88 early in the fourth quarter.

—Mansfield, MA-based medical products giant Covidien (NYSE:COV) launched a corporate venture capital group. The new group, headed by a former general partner at Minneapolis’ Affinity Capital Management, will invest in startups developing medical devices, diagnostics, and drugs.

—Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX) of Cambridge, MA, is set to begin a 650-patient pivotal trial of its hepatitis C drug telaprevir as a treatment for people who didn’t respond to prior therapies.

—DNA-analysis toolmaker Helicos Biosciences (NASDAQ: HLCS) of Cambridge, MA, promoted Steve Lombardi to CEO; Lombardi will take over for Stan Lapidus, who will remain chairman of the company’s board.

—Danvers, MA-based cardiac device maker Abiomed (NASDAQ: ABMD) is planning a secondary offering of 2.4 million shares of common stock. Shares of Abiomed fell about 4 percent, to $18.08, on the news.

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