Biogen Strikes Deal with Knopp for ALS Drugs, Selecta Gets New CEO, Avantra Scores $7M, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

8/20/10Follow @xconomy

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detect a range of diseases. Charlestown, MA-based Courtagen Capital Group, plus unnamed institutional and individual investors, participated in the financing.

—Weston, MA-based Biogen Idec said it struck a deal with Knopp Neurosciences to work on an experimental drug for the condition known as Lou Gehrig’s disease: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB), a leading multiple sclerosis drugmaker, has paid Pittsburgh, PA-based Knopp $20 million upfront, and bought $60 million of the company’s stock. Another $265 million could be in the works for Knopp if it meets certain development and commercialization goals. The drug for ALS, a condition that attacks nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain, expands Biogen’s stock of treatments for neurological disorders.

—New Haven, CT-based Achillion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACHN), a developer of drugs targeting infectious diseases, announced it plans to raise $50.1 million in a private sale of its common stock and warrants. Achillion says it will put the proceeds toward developing drugs for hepatitis C, including a protease inhibitor set to enter Phase II clinical trials next month.

—Ryan took a look at Cambridge-based Agios Pharmaceuticals, which is expanding its staff and labs, largely thanks to $130 million the company got this spring from drugmaker Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG). Agios is out to develop drugs that target mutated enzymes that are seen as enabling cancer cells to grow. The deal gives Celgene the exclusive right to license the cancer-starving drugs Agios develops for a certain period of time, the duration of which was undisclosed by both companies.

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