Genzyme Shrinks Gene Therapy Effort, Expands Oncology; BioVex Raises $40M For Cancer-Fighting Viruses; Biogen Looks to Future of MS Franchise; & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

4/1/09

If you ever wanted to get the big picture on some of New England’s biggest biotechs, this was certainly a good week to do so.

—Just six months after securing its $20 million first round of financing, Cambridge, MA-based Alnara Pharmaceuticals struck a deal putting a late-stage drug candidate into its pipeline. Alnara licensed the drug, liprotamase—an enzyme-replacement pill for patients with cystic fibrosis and chronic pancreatitis—from a nonprofit affiliate of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. As part to the deal, Alnara will take over an ongoing Phase 3 trial of the drug.

—Luke recounted Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme’s (NASDAQ: GENZ) two-decades-long effort to realize the promise of gene therapy. A few days later, Genzyme announced that one of its experimental gene-therapy treatments had failed in a clinical trial to help patients with peripheral artery disease regain some mobility. In response, Genzyme decided to pull the plug on that particular program, though it will continue developing gene therapies for Parkinson’s disease and macular degeneration.

—In other Genzyme news, the Massachusetts biotech powerhouse announced it had acquired three drugs from Germany-based Bayer AG: alemtuzumab (Campath), a leukemia drug thought to have greater potential as a treatment for MS, and cancer dugs fludarabine (Fludara) and sargramostim (Leukine). The deal, which will add a projected $185 million to Genzyme’s 2009 revenue, and as much as $700 million in revenue over three years, could help support the firm’s goal of 20 percent compound annual earnings growth from 2006 through 2011.

—Cambridge, MA-based Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MIPI) released detailed results from a mid-stage study of its imaging agent for spotting … Next Page »

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