Resolvyx Nails Dry Eye Trial, Gloucester Pulls in $29M, Shire Beefs Up Mass Presence, & Other Boston-Area Life Sciences News

8/26/09Follow @xconomy

News flow was light this week, so it was a good time for biotechies to rest up and get ready for the usual fall frenzy of investor conferences and medical meetings. But one local startup had a breakout moment in clinical trials, and another raised a pile of cash.

—Bedford, MA-based Resolvyx Pharmaceuticals aimed high in its first clinical trial with a compound derived from omega-3 fish oil, and the gamble paid off. The company said its experimental drug reached its goal of reducing symptoms of moderate dry eye, in a clinical trial of 232 patients. With that result in hand, it is now back to fundraising, getting ready to advance into the final stage of clinical trials needed before FDA approval.

Gloucester Pharmaceuticals raised $29 million from Novo A/S, Apple Tree Partners, ProQuest Investments, Prospect Venture Partners, and Rho Ventures. The money came in the last days that the Cambridge, MA-based company has to defend its application for a new lymphoma drug. Gloucester’s treatment will be scrutinized by an FDA advisory panel on Sept. 2, and it hopes to win approval to start selling it by Nov. 12.

—The FDA gets kicked around a lot for being slow and bureaucratic, but it’s shown it can move fast when a vital therapy such as Genzyme’s imiglucerase (Cerezyme) runs into a manufacturing shortfall that can disrupt patients’ lives. The agency granted fast-track application status to an aspiring rival to Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme—Israel-based Protalix BioTherapeutics—one week after allowing an expanded number of patients to get the Protalix drug in clinical trials.

—Cambridge, MA-based Biopure, the financially troubled developer of blood substitutes, disclosed in an SEC filing that its assets were sold in a bankruptcy court auction to OPK Biotech for $4 million. Mass Device reported that OPK is controlled by a Russian billionaire.

Shire, the Irish drug company that has its human genetic therapies unit in Massachusetts, told the Boston Globe that it plans to expand its new campus in Lexington, MA a bit more than it anticipated a year ago.

—San Diego-based Ligand Pharmaceuticals went bargain hunting this past week, and picked up the assets of Branford, CT-based Neurogen in a stock deal valued at $11 million. The deal gives Ligand access to Neurogen’s existing partnerships with Merck, as well as drug candidates for treating acute and chronic pain, among other diseases.

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