Ironwood Pharma Eyes $172.5M IPO, Biogen CEO Pay Under Fire, & More Boston Life Sciences News

11/25/09

Xconomy’s life sciences coverage this past week featured a mix of exclusive feature stories—such as Luke’s analysis of the PML side effect from Biogen Idec’s natalizumab (Tysabri)—and breaking news stories like Ironwood Pharmaceuticals’ ambition to become a publicly traded biotech company.

—Cambridge, MA-based Ironwood revealed late Friday that the company is seeking to raise as much as $172.5 million in an initial public offering. The IPO news was not a surprise to Luke, who wrote last month that Ironwood was likely positioning itself to go public when it added former Genentech financial chief David Ebersman to its board.

Joe Bolen, the chief scientist for Cambridge-based Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, gave Xconomy an detailed update on the protein homeostasis collaboration between his scientists and the Harvard Medical School lab of J. Wade Harper. According to Bolen, the collaboration has been quite productive in identifying potential next-generation drugs for cancer.

IncTANK Ventures is providing $1 million seed funding to Harvard spin-out Ligon Discovery, which is developing a small molecule microarray system for discovering new drugs, the company announced on its website. The startup features a founding team from the ranks of Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT.

—Will surgeons someday use robotic devices to implant vascular stents? Natick, MA-based Corindus, a medical devices firm developing such a device, told regulators last week that they raised $5.3 million of a planned $10 million round of equity financing to support this technology.

—Waltham, MA-based ImmunoGen (NASDAQ:IMGN) is raising more cash from its platform for linking antibodies to cell-killing molecules, selling Amgen a second license to the technology for $1 million upfront and potential milestone payments of up to $34 million.

Flagship Ventures of Cambridge was part of a group of venture investors to pump $25 million into San Diego-based startup Receptos, which is developing a process to capture vivid pictures of popular protein targets for drugs. Receptos has built a team that includes a number of Biogen Idec veterans, including former executive chairman Bill Rastetter, who has joined as CEO.

—Speaking of Biogen, New York-based hedge fund HealthCor Management filed a letter with the SEC in which the firm says that Biogen pays its CEO, James Mullen, too much money, given the flat price of the company’s stock. HealthCor called on Biogen in the letter to take multiple actions to boost its share price.

—Exactly how deadly is the PML side effect of Biogen’s natalizumab (Tysabri)? Luke took on that question in his analysis of this safely issue facing patients who take the multiple sclerosis drug and the companies that market it, Biogen and its partner, Elan. Read this story to see what the numbers related to PML cases say about the safety of the drug.

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