Genzyme Expects to Pay $175M to FDA, Westphal Leaves Sirtris to Run GSK Venture Arm, Gelesis Obesity Treatment Passes First Human Trial, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

4/23/10Follow @xconomy

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developing the company’s treatments for life-threatening blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia and lymphoma.

Knome, a Cambridge genomics sequencing and analysis service provider, has received $5 million from France-based bioMérieux, as part of a partnership deal in which bioMérieux will use Knome’s technology to develop in vitro diagnostics for cancer and infectious diseases. The deal gives bioMérieux an equity stake in Knome and allows it to appoint a director seat on the company’s board.

—Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) announced it expects to pay $175 million to the FDA due to manufacturing problems discovered at its Allston, MA-based plant. In November, the government agency warned doctors that it found foreign particles in medicine filled at the plant. The drugmaker could also pay 18.5 percent of revenues on products shipped from the Allston site if it fails to meet deadlines for moving its operation of filling medicine vials from the facility.

Christoph Westphal revealed he was leaving his position as CEO of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge-based developer of drugs targeting genes linked to aging that was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) in 2008. He’s moving to take the lead of SR One, Glaxo’s venture investing arm. He’ll also be leaving his position as senior vice president of Glaxo’s Center of Excellence for External Drug Discovery, a role that will be assumed by Michelle Dipp, who has been working at the center as Westphal’s deputy. That makes her, at 33, the youngest senior vice president at one of the top 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

—Boston-based Gelesis revealed its capsule for treating obesity had passed its first human trial. The capsule uses a superabsorbent food polymer that swells in the stomach to make patients feel full—and therefore eat less. The trial showed those who took the pill felt less hungry by dinnertime, but future studies will have to demonstrate that the treatment promotes weight loss over a yearlong period, according to FDA guidelines for obesity drugmakers.

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