Genzyme Activist Joins Board, Agios Clinches Deal With Celgene, Third Rock Seeks $400M New Fund, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

4/16/10Follow @xconomy

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developing its methods for fighting cancer by testing for the genomic traits in a tumor and matching them with the best treatments. Third Rock Ventures led the round and has incubated the Boston-based company, whose CEO is Alexis Borisy, the former chief executive of Cambridge-based CombinatoRx (NASDAQ: CRXX).

Catabasis, a stealthy Cambridge-based maker of treatments for metabolic and inflammatory diseases, grabbed the first $7.7 million of a planned $39.7 million round of funding, according to a regulatory filing. The company is led by veterans of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals and has members from MedImmune Ventures, Clarus Ventures, and SV Life Sciences on its board.

—Cambridge biotech giant Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) confirmed the Wall Street Journal reports that it added Ralph Whitworth, of San Diego’s Relational Investors, to its board. The addition of Whitworth, who leads the $6 billion fund that is one of Genzyme’s top shareholders, could slow activist investor Carl Icahn’s charge for greater influence over the company. Whitworth will sit on the Genzyme board committees that decide CEO pay and succession, and will chair a new committee on strategic planning and capital spending.

Cambridge’s Agios Pharmaceuticals received $130 million from Summit, NJ-based Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) in exchange for exclusive rights to license and develop any of Agios’ experimental cancer drugs, for a limited time. The Cambridge company could potentially receive another $120 million in milestones for each of the licensed drugs, and additional payment for extending the lifetime of the agreement.

—Taligen Therapeutics, a Cambridge firm focused on treating inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, announced the addition of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY) CEO John Maraganore to its board of directors.

Genocea Biosciences received a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command toward discovering a malaria vaccine. The Cambridge-based company will use the cash to find antigens for the vaccine, and will collaborate with the Naval Medical Research Center on the project.

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