Icahn Bags Two Biogen Board Seats, Pharma Giants Add $40M to Aileron Coffers, Pulmatrix Proceeds With Tests of Flu-Blocking Aerosol, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

6/10/09

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on top of or just under the surface of the skin that change color when some medically relevant change in body chemistry occurs. At the heart of the system are “bioactive pigments” developed by MIT’s Bob Langer, the University of Michigan’s Joerg Lahann, and Samir Mitragotri, at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

—Ryan scored an interview with Fereydoun Firouz, chief executive of EMD Serono—the U.S. affiliate of Germany’s Merck KGaA and its Swiss biotech unit, Merck Serono. They talked about EMD’s efforts to develop new drugs for multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and fertility-related conditions; its plans for expansion in the Boston area, and its competition with local biotech giants Biogen Idec and Genzyme on the MS front.

—Cambridge, MA-based Aileron Therapeutics raised a whopping $40 million in a deal led by the venture arm of GlaxoSmithKline and Excel Medical Ventures and joined by venture operations representing Novartis, Roche, and Eli Lilly, as well as Apple Tree Partners, and two angel investors. The new funding will aid Aileron’s efforts to develop a new class of drugs called “stapled peptides,” which are designed to reach targets inside cells that are inaccessible to conventional small-molecule and protein drugs.

—Luke got an update on Lexington, MA-based Pulmatrix, whose lung-protecting, pathogen-blocking aerosol technology is getting a lot of attention in light of the H1N1 flu outbreak. The startup recently completed a small Phase 1 safety trial of the technology; a larger trial, which could provide evidence of the technology’s efficacy against flu, could be completed as soon as October.

—Ryan got a sneak peak at Taris Biomedical, a startup founded by prominent MIT inventors Michael Cima and Bob Langer that will make its full public debut at our upcoming Xconomy Summit on Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship on June 24. The Lexington, MA-based firm is developing a device for delivering drugs directly to the bladder. Taris raised $15 million last August in a Series A round of venture capital from Flybridge Capital Partners, Polaris Venture Partners, and Flagship Ventures.

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