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

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by Bessemer Venture Partners. Alnara is pursuing a unique set of biotech drugs that can be taken orally and can act strictly in the digestive tract, avoiding injections and potential side effects.

—Cambridge, MA-based Dyax (NASDAQ:DYAX) worked out a deal with investment fund Azimuth Opportunity to sell up to $50 million of its common stock to Azimuth over an 18-month period.

—Ryan chatted with Lauren Silverman, the managing director of the confusingly named (and Cambridge, MA-based) Novartis Option Fund. Silverman explained that the fund is really a general venture capital fund that happens to have a single limited partner—Swiss drug giant Novartis (NYSE:NVS—and that the startups in which it invests between $20 million and $25 million need not be “on strategy with Novartis.” Ryan rounds up the five startups that have benefited from this unusual fund to date.

—Luke provided a blow-by-blow analysis of the data on Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ hepatitis C drug, telaprevir, coming out of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease annual meeting in San Francisco. Bottom line: the Cambridge, MA-based firm’s lead candidate is continuing to live up to high expectations.

—Ryan told the fascinating story of Boston’s RA Capital Management, a young hedge fund with a stellar record in life sciences investing. Of note: the fund’s lead portfolio manager, Peter Kolchinsky, took the post fresh out of a Harvard Ph.D. program.

—Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) inked a deal with Genentech under which it will pay $31.5 million upfront to co-develop a next-generation antibody drug called GA101 that’s in Phase I/II trials as a cancer treatment.

—Genzyme (NASDAQ:GENZ) of Cambridge, MA, forged a deal worth potentially more than $1 billion with Columbia, MD-based Osiris Therapeutics (NASDAQ:OSIR) to develop and commercialize two adult stem cell treatments in a variety of diseases. Genzyme will pay $130 million up front and up to $1.25 billion in milestone payments to commercialize Prochymal and Chondrogen in markets outside the U.S. and Canada.

—Watertown, MA-based biotech firm Acusphere (NASDAQ:ACUS) forged a deal giving Frazer, PA-based Cephalon (NASDAQ:CEPH) an exclusive worldwide license on its injectable formulation of anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib, which is in preclinical development. Acusphere got a $5 million initial fee and $15 million in loans in return.

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