How Lilly Let Telaprevir Go to Vertex, SV Focusing on Health IT With Latest Fund, Genzyme Isis Cholesterol Drug Shows Strong in Clinical Trial, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News
The past week brought news of clinical trials and funding from drugmakers, as well as a look at venture investing strategy in health IT, and an update on the Genzyme-Sanofi buyout rumors. Catch up on those stories and more below:
—With its recently closed $523 million fund, SV Life Sciences plans to put a greater focus on investments in the health IT space, Ryan wrote. The venture firm, which has offices in Boston and the Bay Area, has so far invested in six companies developing software for the healthcare sector, including Waltham, MA-based Phase Forward (NASDAQ: PFWD). Managing partner Eugene Hill sees promise in the $17 billion that the U.S. government has pledged toward helping healthcare providers update to electronic medical records.
—Waltham-based Avedro, a biotech startup developing technology for using thermal energy in vision correction, raised $4.6 million of a planned $5 million equity, debt, and options offering. The company’s CEO was among those who pioneered the Lasik laser eye surgery technology. Avedro’s system, which doesn’t require surgery, gained European market clearance earlier this year.
—In her column this week, Sylvia took a look at the process in which the media handles news from major clinical trials and scientific breakthroughs.
—Casenet, a Bedford, MA-based maker of health management software, pulled in a $2 million debt- and options-based financing. The company raised $5 million in a similar financing last year, and nabbed a $7.5 million Series B round led by HLM Venture Partners in 2007.
—PerkinElmer, a Waltham-based research and diagnostics technology provider, acquired Bedford-based VisEn Medical. No financial details of the transaction were revealed. Company CEO Kirkland Poss and Ralph Weissleder, the director of the Center for Systems Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital, founded VisEn, which develops in vivo fluorescence imaging products.
—Ryan wrote about Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ potential blockbuster drug telaprevir, initially developed through a partnership with Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY). The hepatitis C treatment showed it cured three out of four patients in a Phase III clinical trial earlier this spring, a milestone that has likely caused Lilly to regret its decision to pull out of the collaboration in 2002, Ryan wrote. The drug’s potential has made Cambridge-based Vertex (NASDAQ: VRTX) the third most valuable Bay State biotech company.
—Speaking of Vertex, the drugmaker’s stock got a boost after Phase III clinical trial results of Merck’s rival protease inhibitor hepatitis C drug lagged behind Vertex’s drug, telaprevir. The Merck (NYSE: MRK) drug met its primary goals in the trial, but wiped out the disease in only 66 percent of the patients in the study, compared to 75 percent of patients in the telaprevir trial.
—Cambridge-based Genzyme and its Carlsbad, CA-based collaborator Isis Pharmaceuticals announced that their treatment for ultra-high cholesterol passed two important clinical trials. The biotechs are preparing to pursue FDA clearance for the drug mipomersen, which has now passed four pivotal clinical trials, in 2011. Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ, which has been in the news heavily in the past few weeks surrounding rumors of a buyout by Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY), still saw its shares fall slightly after the news came out. Genzyme, meanwhile, has remained very tight-lipped about a potential deal with Sanofi, which offered between $67 and $70 a share for the Cambridge drugmaker, according to Bloomberg News
—Cambridge-based diagnostics startup Seventh Sense Biosystems has the support of the U.S. intelligence community, at least financially. The startup is backed by In-Q-Tel, the nonprofit venture arm of the CIA, which invests in startups whose technologies could aid the U.S. security and defense mission, Ryan wrote. Seventh Sense, which is developing a device for the less painful drawing of blood, declined to discuss In-Q-Tel’s stake in the company.