Icahn Blasts Genzyme Manufacturing, Glaxo Halts “Red Wine” Drug Trial, Ariad Gets $69M from Merck, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

5/7/10Follow @xconomy

News surrounding Genzyme’s ongoing battle with billionaire investor Carl Icahn cropped up this week, alongside headlines from other big biotechs and in-depth profiles on newer life sciences names in the New England area.

—Luke caught up with the chief scientist and the co-founder of Cambridge, MA-based Proteostasis Therapeutics, which was built around research from the Scripps Research Institute, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and Northwestern University. The company, which launched with a massive $45 million venture capital round in 2008, is out to make drugs that alter the protein pathways that break down as people age, contributing to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s.

—Ryan took a look at Ligon Discovery, a spinoff of MIT and Harvard’s Broad Institute that develops small-molecule technology that could have applications in identifying potential disease proteins and finding drugs to home in on those targets.

Link Medicine, a Cambridge developer of drugs to treat neurodegenerative diseases, exceeded its original expectations for its Series C round of funding by $5 million, the company’s CEO told Ryan. A third closing of the Series C, at $20 million, brought the round’s total to $45 million, money that will go to testing Link’s drug for treating mild Alzheimer’s, which went into its first human clinical trial in November 2009.

—Activist investor Carl Icahn continued his campaign for greater influence on the board of Cambridge-based Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ), filing a proxy statement with the SEC in which he called the drugmaker’s manufacturing system “broken,” and advised shareholders not to reelect chairman and CEO Henri Termeer to the board. Icahn, who controls 4.9 percent of Genzyme’s common stock, is vying to get himself and three associates on the board, which has 10 seats up for reelection in mid June. On Thursday, the Genzyme board of directors also announced plans for a $2 billion stock repurchase aimed at increasing shareholder value

—I profiled Beverly, MA-based Eliza, a company that employs intelligent speech-recognition technology in a system of automated phone calls that communicate to patients about their healthcare, on behalf of insurers, employers, and prescription benefit managers. The company has made more than 400 million phone calls in ten years, encouraging patients to do everything from lose weight to schedule preventative screenings.

—Cambridge’s Ariad Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARIA) revised a 2007 agreement with Merck & Co, giving the pharma giant exclusive license to develop, produce, and sell Ariad’s cancer drug, ridaforolimus—activities that Merck (NYSE: MRK) will also cover the costs of. Initially, the two companies were sharing the marketing rights and the responsibilities of funding the development of the drug, which is designed to treat certain soft tissue and bone sarcomas. Ariad nabbed $69 million for the revised deal, which comes on top of … Next Page »

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  • http://www.ezmelts.com Resveratrol

    The suspension of the resveratrol trial and the side effects found are likely the consequence of the very high dosages of resveratrol that Sirtris wants to include in their formulation to try to overcome their low bioavailability. Glaxo/Sirtris should learn from the nutraceutical companies that are using intraoral delivery (melts, sublinguals, sprays) to achieve greater bioavailability at much smaller dosages.