Alnylam’s Spinoff Strategy, Genzyme’s Gaucher-Business Future, Adimab’s Antibody Ambitions, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

2/25/09

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London-based drug giant GlaxoSmithKline. New investors Auriga Partners, Cycad Group, and Alexandria Real Estate Equities and return investors Lux Capital Management, Polaris Venture Partners, and Morningside Ventures joined in backing the startup, which is commercializing technology for rapidly discovering new vaccine antigens.

—Cambridge, MA-based Ariad Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ARIA) sold about $24 million worth of its common stock to new and existing institutional investors.

—Another Cambridge biotech, Genzyme (NASDAQ:GENZ), announced that its next-generation, oral drug for the rare genetic ailment Gaucher disease passed a mid-stage clinical trial. The drug is strategically important to Genzyme because patents on its current treatment for the disease, its top-selling product, will expire in 2010 and 2013. A late-stage clinical trial of the new drug is expected to begin in the middle of this year.

—Luke unraveled the twisting tale of Lexington, MA-based Microbia, one of a pair of companies to arise from work done at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge to understand how yeast turn into disease-causing organisms. Microbia is now using yeast as cheap factories for “greener” specialty chemicals, such as nutritional supplements, made from renewable materials instead of petrochemicals.

—Steven Tallarida, the CEO of medtech manufacturing and product development firm STD Med in Stoughton, MA, launched a new medtech investment firm, Makaira Venture Partners, with plans to raise about $50 million for its first fund. STD Med, which has for the last decade incubated and launched several Massachusetts medical devices startups, will house the new venture operation, and will provide Makaira’s portfolio startups with product development and initial manufacturing services.

—Chelmsford, MA-based Zoll Medical (NASDAQ:ZOLL) inked a deal to acquire the assets of Irvine, CA-based Alsius (NASDAQ:ALUS) for $12 million in cash. The California company makes devices that control body.

—Oxford Bioscience Partners general partner Michael Lytton left the Boston venture firm to take a post as executive vice president of business development at Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB).

—Watertown, MA-based HIV drug developer Panacos Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:PANC) announced it will close its Gaithersburg, MD, facility, cut its work force from 11 to four employees to conserve cash, and explore a sale of the company or its programs.

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