A Trio of Tysabri Stories, Genzyme’s Big Deal with Osiris, A Peek Inside a Winning Hedge Fund, & More Life Sciences News

11/5/08

Last week brought an interesting mix of theory and practice about the impact of the current economic climate on life sciences.

—There was a flurry of news related to natalizumab (Tysabri), the multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease drug from Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) and its Irish partner Elan. First, the drug was linked to the first U.S. case of PML, an often-deadly brain infection, since its reintroduction to the domestic market two years ago. Then came the news that prominent Democratic Party fundraiser Fred Baron, who received natalizumab after his family and high-profile friends lobbied Biogen and the FDA for access to the drug, died of the aggressive cancer his doctor thought the drug might combat. And yesterday Luke took a look at the somewhat circuitous route the drug took to market, and its roots in Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

—Watertown, MA-based EnVivo Pharmaceuticals, which is developing drugs for Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia, reportedly raised $65 million in a Series D venture round. All the money came from Boston-based Fidelity Biosciences, evidently, which also bought out all of other EnVivo’s investors, including BCM Technologies, Cogene Ventures, and NeuroVentures Capital.

—Ryan shared the predictions of hedge-fund managers and other members of the buy-side set about how the financial crisis will affect the life sciences industry. And Bob polled a slightly more diverse group—including representatives from venture capital and an industry exec—for their views on the current climate for Massachusetts biotech firms. Neither informal survey painted a particularly rosy picture.

—Despite the gloom and doom, Boston-based Alnara Pharmaceuticals was able to raise $20 million in a first round of financing led by Seattle-based Frazier Healthcare Ventures and Boston-based Third Rock Ventures and joined … Next Page »

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