Genzyme Targets Growth, Taligen Takes $26M, Icahn Lays Into Biogen Idec Management, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

5/13/09

A good number of New England life sciences firms took home new venture money this past week—in a couple of cases, in fairly large bags.

—Luke gave an overview of how Cambridge, MA-based biotech powerhouse Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) plans to keep its revenues growing and its pipeline moving. Potentially important drugs for the company in the coming years include GENZ-112638, an oral pill for Gaucher’s disease, mipomersen, a drug for lowering cholesterol, and alemtuzumab (Campath) for multiple sclerosis. (Alemtuzumab is already approved for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.)

—Boston Globe columnist Scott Kirsner uncovered some details about stealthy drug-delivery startup Entra Pharmaceuticals, which was founded by Yet-Ming Chiang (of MIT and A123Systems fame), and Michael Cima (of MIT, MicroCHIPS, and Certus Biomedical fame). Operating in incubator space at the Boston University Photonics Center, and backed by Flybridge Capital Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners, the company is developing an inexpensive, disposable “patch pump” for delivering drugs.

—Lexington, MA-based RainDance Technologies, a maker of life sciences research tools, reported to the SEC that it had raised $6 million of a $12 million round of private equity financing.

—Tokai Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge, MA-based developer of treatments for prostate cancer, blood cancers, and uterine fibroids, announced it had raised $22 million in a Series D round of private equity financing led by Novartis Venture Funds. Founding investor Apple Tree Partners contributed to the round as well.

—Natick, MA-based Soteira, a startup developing a system for treating vertebral compression fractures, raised $6.6 million of a $12 million round of private equity financing, according to federal filings.

—Avedro of Waltham, MA, raised $10 million in a Series B financing round led by Flagship Ventures and joined by Prism VentureWorks, De Novo Ventures, and Echelon Ventures. Avedro is developing a vision-correcting procedure that uses focused heat to reshape the cornea.

—Waltham, MA-based Logical Therapeutics appointed Peter Lankau as its CEO. Logical is developing an anti-inflammatory drug.

—Luke gave an overview of the scathing new attack that billionaire investor Carl Icahn is making on the management of Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB). Icahn’s 52-page PowerPoint presentation is part of an effort to sway stockholders to vote in favor of his four nominees to the 13-member Biogen board; votes will be tallied at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on June 3.

—Lexington, MA-based Alzheimer’s disease drug developer Epix Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: EPIX) reportedly hired JP Morgan and Canaccord Adams to assist the board in evaluating its options—including a sale or merger. The company evidently only has enough cash to operate through August.

—Taligen Therapeutics of Cambridge, MA, reported to the SEC that it has raised $26 million out of a $65 million financing round. Taligen is developing drugs for inflammatory diseases that work by manipulating a part of the immune system called the “alternative complement pathway.”

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