Hey Life Sciences Fans, Remember The Deals Back in 2008…

1/5/09

I recently had coffee with a venture capitalist at the Starbucks across the street from Biogen Idec’s (NASDAQ:BIIB) headquarters in Kendall Square, and he asked me what I thought were the biggest life sciences deals of 2008. The question is really tough to answer, both because the answers are somewhat subjective and I didn’t want to forget to mention a big M&A event. (Full disclosure: I was also distracted by the uncanny sweetness of my eggnog latte.)

So I turned the question over to him (a good technique for avoiding a question without avoiding a topic). Naturally, he mentioned deals that involved his venture firm as an investor or stockholder. Similarly, I mentioned the deals that Xconomy had covered. The result of our conversation was an incomplete recollection of the most important deals of the past year, but it inspired me to research the topic further.

It was indeed a big year for life sciences deals in the Boston area, despite the lack of IPOs. Instead of tallying the “biggest” deals of 2008 in terms of dollars, I’d rather talk about the “most memorable” deals. (To look at the biggest of the big, check out this fun post from the In Vivo Blog.) Why look at this differently? Because there are some deals that didn’t boast the largest sums but were still meaningful because of the giant leaps of faith investors made in an emerging field of science.

So let’s reminisce about the deals (listed here in no particular order):

Concert Pharma Jammed with VCs

—Concert Pharmaceuticals is working on a method to retool the chemical composition of existing drugs to make new pharmaceuticals. The Cambridge, MA-based startup, which swaps the hydrogen atoms of existing drugs with deuterium atoms to form new treatments, raised $37 million in a Series C round of private equity financing in the first half of 2008. Luke wrote about the company’s lead drug candidate, a form of antidepressant paroxetine (Paxil) that has undergone the firm’s deuterium-for-hydrogen makeover, to treat hot flashes.

ProteoStasis Launches With Big Cash Stash

—Here’s one exception to the issue of scarce financing for newly hatched biotech firms—also known as the valley of death. Cambridge-based ProteoStasis Therapeutics pretty much leapt from the gates last year with … Next Page »

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