Merck and Roche Back Adimab, Viral Contamination Closes Genzyme Plant, Interlace Ties on $20.5M, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

6/17/09

Three big pharmaceutical firms partnered with two New England life sciences companies this past week, and one ended a partnership.

—Ryan learned that some 60 of the 240 people who were employed by Lexington, MA-based Indevus Pharmaceuticals when it was acquired for $370 million by Endo Pharmaceuticals in March will be laid off. Chadds Ford, PA-based Endo (NASDAQ:ENDP) will also move research programs out of the Indevus facility in Lexington to Endo’s headquarters in Pennsylvania.

—Boston’s Partners HealthCare System revealed that it’s assembling a startup to commercialize a health self-monitoring system developed by Partners’ Center for Connected Health. The nascent company, which has yet to find a CEO or formally launch, already has two paying customers: storage giant EMC (NYSE:EMC) and Partners HealthCare itself.

—Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS)—a maker of a DNA-based screening test for colorectal cancer–-raised $8.2 million in a private placement of stock. The Marlborough, MA-based firm also licensed technology from the Mayo Clinic related to sample processing and data analysis for such tests.

—Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline pulled out of a co-development deal with Lexington, MA-based Synta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SNTA) after the subject of that collaboration, Synta’s elesclomol, failed in a pivotal clinical trial for patients with melanoma.

—Drug behemoth Novartis became the latest pharmaceutical company to back Boston-based Enlight Biosciences, which is developing technologies to bolster drug discovery and development. Enlight now has six such partners in total; each gains accesses to the technologies the startup develops on a pre-competitive basis.

—Drug colossuses Merck and Roche became the first research collaborators of Lebanon, NH-based Adimab, whose yeast-based antibody-drug discovery platform is designed to generate drug candidates in weeks rather than months. Adimab will use the proprietary platform to identify antibodies against multiple targets for Merck and against one target for Roche; both deals provide Adimab with upfront payments and licensing fees, as well as potential additional fees for pre-clinical commercial milestones.

—Two-time Boston-area startup founder Jeff Carbeck has signed up to work on a stealthy startup project with Flagship Ventures, Ryan reports. Carbeck, a former Princeton professor, is maintaining active roles at both Watertown, MA-based medical devices firm Arsenal Medical and Cambridge, MA-based nanotech firm Nano-Terra.

Interlace Medical of Framingham, MA, raised $20.5 million in a Series C funding round led by Baird Venture Partners and HLM Venture Partners and joined by Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management, Aperture Venture Partners, New Leaf Venture Partners, and Spray Venture Partners. The startup will use the funds to begin commercializing its “MyoSure” system for removing uterine fibroids and polyps.

—Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) halted production at one of its major drug manufacturing plants after discovering viral contamination in one of the six bioreactors at the Allston, MA, site. The problem, which is expected by be resolved by the end of July, sent Genzyme’s stock price tumbling and is expected to cause shortages of the company’s two best sellers, Cerezyme and Fabrazyme.

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