Acceleron Aims for Anemia Cure, Mascoma to Pump Out Biofuels For Chevron, Genzyme Chief to Head Boston Fed, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

9/16/09

This week saw the demise of a couple of New England life sciences firms and the rise of several others.

—Luke profiled the efforts of Cambridge, MA-based Acceleron Pharma to bring its lead drug candidate to market as a treatment for anemia. Previous experiments suggested the drug, ACE-011, would actually cause anemia, but in its first clinical trial of the compound the company found that a single dose was like giving patients a transfusion with three full units of blood.

Alkermes (NASDAQ:ALKS), also of Cambridge, announced that its chairman and former CEO Richard Pops would once again serve as president and chief executive of the company. Pops will take the place of David Broecker, who will leave both his CEO job and his seat on the company’s board of directors.

AstraZeneca (LON:AZN), the British pharma behemoth, plans to cut 113 jobs at its Westborough, MA, plant next month, according to the Boston Globe.

—The assets of Mansfield, MA-based Innovative Spinal Technologies, whose demise was chronicled by Wade earlier this year, were acquired by New Jersey’s Integra Life Sciences Holdings (NASDAQ: IART). The assets, which include a minimally invasive system for spine surgery, fetched just $9.25 million in cash after Innovative Spinal raised almost $75 million to develop them.

—Lebanon, NH-based Mascoma struck a two-year deal to produce cellulosic ethanol for Chevron Technology Ventures, a division of energy giant Chevron USA. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

—Ryan took a look at Providence, RI-based Sentient Bioscience, a startup founded by researchers from Rhode Island Hospital, Brown University, and Johns Hopkins University to develop new treatments for liver cancer. The firm’s technology, mostly still under wraps, aims to block the blood supply to liver tumors and deliver chemotherapy as well.

Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer has been named chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Termeer currently serves as deputy chairman of the Fed board; he’ll move up to chairman in 2010.

—Protein-drug developer Altus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALTU) of Waltham, MA, said it will shutter its operations after running out of cash. The firm will end a mid-stage clinical trial of its drug ALTU-238 and let go “substantially all” of its employees this month and in October.

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