Follica Grabs $7.5M, Glaxo’s SR One Leads $22M Round For Constellation, MoMelan Seeks to Improve Skin Grafts, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

6/4/10Follow @xconomy

There were fewer life sciences headlines this week than we’ve seen lately, but the news covered an array of biotech companies fighting everything from baldness to skin disease to stubborn bacteria.

—Watertown, MA-based Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals pulled in a $45 million Series C round that was led by new investor Excel Venture Management and also included some of the biotech company’s existing backers. Tetraphase is using proprietary technology to develop tetracycline antibiotics, which can allow for more alterations than traditional antibiotics developed through fermentation, and as a result better combat pathogens that have built resistances to existing treatments.

SynapDx, a Waltham, MA-based developer of diagnostics for early detection of autism, snagged $9 million in Series A funding, from Bain Capital, General Catalyst Partners, and North Bridge Venture Partners. The quiet startup was founded by Stanley Lapidus, the life sciences entrepreneur known for launching companies such as Helicos BioSciences (NASDAQ: HLCS) and Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS).

Healthcare products company Covidien said it will buy ev3 (NASDAQ: EVVV), a Plymouth, MN-based medical devices firm, for $22.50 per share, or a total of $2.6 billion in cash. Ev3 is known for products that treat vascular diseases. Mansfield, MA-based Covidien (NYSE: COV) (which is legally incorporated in Ireland) expects the purchase to be finalized by July 31.

Follica, the stealthy biotech company that has generated plenty of buzz on our site for its work in developing drugs to fight male pattern baldness, hit our radar screen again with $7.5 million in equity-based funding. Company co-founder Daphne Zohar of PureTech Ventures said the financing represents part of Follica’s Series B round. Follica hasn’t said how close its technology, which is designed to stimulate the growth of hair follicles, is to hitting the market.

—Constellation Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge, MA-based company that’s developing drugs that target diseases by turning DNA on and off, grabbed a $22 million Series B round, led by GlaxoSmithKline’s venture investing arm, SR One. Boston-area life sciences force Christoph Westphal became president and head of Glaxo’s (NYSE: GSK) SR One earlier this spring, and was involved in the financing. Constellation’s technology aims to block enzymes that make it harder for tumor-suppressor genes to do their job. Previous Constellation backers Altitude Life Sciences, The Column Group, Third Rock Ventures, and Venrock Associates also contributed to the second-round funding.

—Ryan took a look at MoMelan Technologies, a stealthy Cambridge startup that’s out to fight the physical effects of skin diseases by developing a device that can stretch skin to cover a larger area than a traditional skin graft could. The science for the company comes from Harvard dermatologist and MoMelan co-founder R. Rox Anderson. It could help treat disease like vitiligo, which causes the irregular formation of white spots on the skin. MoMelan raised more than $1 million in convertible debt funding in March.

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