RXi Tackles RNAi Delivery, Pfizer Launches A Two-Cambridge Stem Cell Effort, Archemix Plows An Alternative Path to the Public Market, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

11/20/08

The news was mostly good for Boston-area life sciences firms this past week, with some money raised, some deals done, and some intriguing new technologies unveiled.

—Luke talked to Tod Woolf, CEO of RXi Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: RXII), about the tremendous challenge of delivering RNAi-based drugs—and how the Worcester, MA-based firm plans to overcome it. Its goal: an oral pill that uses RNA interference to combat inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, atherosclerosis, and Type 2 diabetes.

—New England Patriots owner the Kraft Group is reportedly looking for tenants for a 1.6-million-square-foot biotech office park it’s planning to build near Foxborough’s Gillette Stadium.

—Pharmaceutical behemoth Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) unveiled plans for an independent research unit—located in Cambridge, England, and Cambridge, MA—aimed at developing stem-cell-based treatments for multiple diseases.

Ascent Therapeutics finally lifted the lid on its technology. Ryan learned that the Cambridge, MA-based biotech is developing a new class of molecules, which it calls “pepducins,” designed to target an important type of molecule on cell surfaces in a new way. The technology intrigued investors enough to help Ascent raise $19 million in a Series A venture capital round from the likes of HealthCare Ventures, Novartis Option Fund, and TVM Capital.

—Cambridge, MA-based ZafGen, which is developing fat-fighting drugs, raised $14 million in a Series B round from Third Rock Ventures and Atlas Venture.

—An FDA panel found in a 10-8 vote that Targanta Therapeutics (NASDAQ:TARG) has not yet proved that its experimental antibiotic oritavancin is safe and effective. Though the FDA … Next Page »

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