Oxford’s Fambrough Leaves for Dicerna, Clinical Data Aims to Take on Big Pharma with Antidepressants, Genzyme’s Termeer Courts Shareholders, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

5/14/10Follow @xconomy

It was a lighter-than-usual week for breaking news stories from New England’s life sciences companies, so we used the time to take a closer look at trends and companies we’ve come across before.

Doug Fambrough, a general partner at Boston’s Oxford Bioscience Partners, left his full-time position at the venture firm to become CEO of Dicerna Pharmaceuticals, a Watertown, MA-based startup backed by Oxford. Fambrough will work on a limited basis as a venture partner with Oxford and will represent the venture firm on the boards of two of its portfolio companies, but is now focusing on leading Dicerna, a developer of RNAi-based drugs which he co-founded in 2007.

—ImmunoGen (NASDAQ: IMGN), a Waltham, MA-based cancer drug developer, raised $67.4 million after expenses, through a sale of 9 million shares of stock. JP Morgan Securities acted as the sole book-runner for the deal while Oppenheimer & Co., RBC Capital Markets, Cantor Fitzgerald, and Morgan Joseph served as co-managers. The underwriters have 30 days to elect to buy another 1.35 million shares of ImmunoGen stock.

—ENOVIA, the Lowell, MA, brand of product lifecycle management software company Dassault Systémes, announced a partnership with app developer echoBase to deliver electronic medical records to the iPhone. EchoBase is combining ENOVIA’s collaboration and data management technology with its Resonate mobile application, to enable the sharing of patient data among doctors, pharmacists, hospitals, and other healthcare providers.

—Ryan caught up with the CEO of Newton, MA-based Clinical Data (NASDAQ: CLDA), a company out to make an antidepressant that rivals those from pharma giants Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY), GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE). In late March the 160-employee company sent in its application for FDA approval of its experimental antidepressant, vilazodone, and could have the drug on the market by early 2011 if it gets approved.

—Our life sciences columnist, Sylvia Pagán Westphal, examined the industry view that academia has no place in drug development—an opinion the she says has contributed to the obstacles in translating biotech research into commercialized products.

—The healthcare sector took the biggest share of venture dollars in April, I wrote in a story examining the startup deals for the month. Life sciences companies pulled in $75.5 million in funding last month, with the biggest deal going to Cambridge’s Catabasis Pharmaceuticals at $39.6 million.

—Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) chairman and CEO Henri Termeer is traveling to meet with the biotech company’s top 30 shareholders over the next month, a Genzyme spokesman told Ryan. The company has been battling fallout from manufacturing problems at its Allston, MA, site last year, including fines from the FDA, product shortages, and billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s calls for Termeer’s removal. Icahn is also vying to get himself and three associates elected to open Genzyme board seats at the company’s annual meeting on June 16, and will likely be making efforts similar to Termeer’s to rally shareholder support, Ryan wrote.

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