Biogen Drops Facet Bid, Aveo Reveals IPO Ambitions, Pfizer Partners with Adimab, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

12/23/09

New England’s drug developers and device makers are squeezing in a few more partnerships, acquisitions, financings, and strategic moves before the year’s end.

—Acceleron Pharma, the Cambridge, MA-based biotech that’s building its own drug-making infrastructure rather that outsourcing the work, raised $10.9 million in equity financing, according to an SEC filing. $8 million comes from Cambridge-based biotech Alkermes (NASDAQ:ALKS) as part of a licensing deal, and $2.9 million comes from previous backers.

—Lebanon, NH-based Adimab collected milestone payments from partners Merck and Roche and inked new partnerships with Pfizer and one other unnamed drug company. The pharma firms are all turning to Adimab for its drug discovery technology, which promises to dramatically speed the process of finding new antibody-based drugs against its partners’ chosen targets.

—Aveo Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge-based developer of cancer drugs and genetically engineered mice used for predicting how well such drugs will work in humans, filed paperwork for an IPO that could be worth as much as $86.25 million. The company, a 2002 spinoff of Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, has raised $165 million from investors and pharmaceutical partners.

—Cambridge-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) withdrew its hostile takeover bid for Facet Biotech (NASDAQ: FACT) after failing to convince a majority of shareholders in the Redwood City, CA-based firm to tender their shares.

-Agios Pharmaceuticals CEO David Schenkein chatted with Luke about a grant the Cambridge-based company has secured from Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, an organization founded by AOL founder Steve Case’s family. Though small ($180,000), the grant should help Agios answer some scientific questions key to developing a new treatment for certain brain cancer patients.

—Javelin Pharmaceuticals (AMEX:JAV) of Cambridge agreed to an all-stock merger with Myriad Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:MYRX) of Salt Lake City. The deal would give Javelin shareholders initial control of 41 percent of the stock in the combined company; the figure could climb to as high as 45 percent, depending on if and when Javelin’s lead anti-pain drug, an injected formulation of diclofenac (Dyloject), is approved by the FDA.

—Waltham, MA-based EyeGate Pharma raised $11 million of a planned $22.7 million round of equity financing, according to a regulatory filing. Eyegate is developing technology for delivering drugs directly into the eye.

—Bob visited the a new research group at the MIT Media Lab aimed at transforming healthcare by bringing patients front and center in controlling their own health. The New Media Medicine group, as it’s called, was launched in 2008 under the watch of lab director Frank Moss, who told Bob about the group’s ambitious goals.

—Luke checked in with upstart vaccine developer Genocea Biosciences. The Cambridge-based firm has decided to pursue as its lead product candidate a vaccine that treats a disease (genital herpes) rather than preventing it.

—Lexington, MA-based GI Dynamics garnered European marketing approval for a sleeve-like device that lines the gut to treat Type 2 diabetes and obesity. The firm plans to begin selling the device, called the EndoBarrier, in Europe in the first half of next year.

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