Sirtris Founders Resurface with New Fund, Icahn Continues to Make Biotech Waves, Sentillion Bought by Microsoft, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

2/19/10Follow @xconomy

Despite the Presidents Day holiday, it’s been a big life sciences week for us.

A new venture fund is being assembled by the founders of Cambridge, MA-based Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a developer of treatments for aging-related diseases that went to GlaxoSmithKline for more than $700 million in 2008. Christoph Westphal, Michelle Dipp, and Rich Aldrich have pulled in $50.7 million from 24 undisclosed investors for their Longwood Founders Fund, according to an SEC filing.

—Helicos Biosciences (NASDAQ:HLCS) president Steve Lombardi has resigned, the Cambridge-based company disclosed in a regulatory filing last Friday. Lombardi officially concluded his full-time work and his role on the Helicos board on February 11, but will continue to earn his salary through August. Helicos, which makes genetic analysis instruments, didn’t disclose the reasons for Lombardi’s departure, but said it wasn’t due to a conflict with company policies.

—Luke caught up with the CEO of Rib-X Pharmaceuticals, a New Haven, CT-based antibiotic developer that’s raised $35 million in the last year. The company is hoping to get help from a Big Pharma company on a trial for its top drug candidate, which should lead to an application with the FDA to market the drug in 2012, if all goes well.

—Ryan looked at the bumpy ride experienced by Lantheus Medical Imaging, a North Billerica company once owned by Bristol-Myers Squibb. The firm’s big focus is on new products like its contrast agent for diagnosing cardiovascular diseases, but it struggles to gain the name recognition that its previous owner had.

—Cambridge-based social networking site PatientsLikeMe announced that it acquired ReliefInsite, an online pain management firm that helps patients track their pain levels and share them with doctors. The move comes just after PatientsLikeMe’s West Coast rival, Keas, brokered a deal with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) to expand the use of its health-monitoring software.

—The Carl Icahn story continues. The big biotech investor known for gobbling up shares at companies such as Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB) and Amilyn Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AMLN) has taken a bigger stake in Cambridge’s Genzyme (NASDAQ:GENZ), increasing his holdings from 1.5 million shares in fourth quarter of 2009 to 4.6 million shares earlier this month.

Eleven Biotherapeutics roared out of stealth mode with a $35 million Series A round, Luke reported. The Cambridge company, which looks to engineer protein treatments for blood clot disorders and autoimmune diseases, also has assembled a team of big names from the biotech and venture worlds.

Providence, RI-based NABsys nabbed $7 million in Series B funding led by Stata Venture Partners, run by Analog Devices co-founder and chairman Ray Stata.  NABsys, whose DNA sequencing technology hinges on semiconductor innovations, will use the funding from Stata to develop a platform intended to streamline the reading of DNA chains.

—Ryan wrote about healthcare software provider Sentillion’s entry into the big leagues with its acquisition by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT). Few aspects of Andover, MA-based Sentillion’s business have changed since the access management software company became part of Microsoft’s health and life sciences unit, says CEO Robert Seliger, who will stay on as a general manager.

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