PerkinElmer Sells Unit for $500M, Aveo Stock Climbs, Pfizer Buys FoldRx, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

9/3/10Follow @xconomy

This week we saw news of acquisitions from drug giants, and got updates on several New England biotechs.

—The FDA alerted South San Francisco-based Genentech that it was not going to review its application for accelerated approval of its “empowered antibody” drug, developed with technology from Waltham, MA-based ImmunoGen. The FDA said that T-DM1, which combines an existing breast cancer drug from Genentech with a cancer-killing toxin from ImmunoGen (NASDAQ: IMGN), did not meet the requirements for accelerated approval because all other treatment options for the patient population had not been exhausted.

—I profiled Boston-based FitVirtual, a developer of Web-based platforms for corporate wellness programs and tailored exercise plans. The startup, which is part of the MassChallenge competition, is hoping to use social networking to help users find fitness routines that are right for them.

—Cambridge-based Genzyme announced that its board had unanimously rejected an offer from French drug giant Sanofi-Aventis to buy the company for $69 per share. Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) said the offer undervalued the company and failed to acknowledge its recovery from last year’s manufacturing woes, and its potential product pipeline, including the multiple sclerosis treatment alemtuzumab (Campath).

—Molecular diagnostic technology developer PrimeraDx announced it had added Matthew F. McManus as its new president and CEO. Mansfield, MA-based PrimeraDx raised $20 million in Series C financing last fall, and is preparing to bring the first of its products, designed to speed up medical tests, to market.

—Cambridge-based Aveo Pharmaceuticals saw its stock rise 40 percent in a week, and Ryan chatted with CEO Tuan Ha-Ngoc to find out why. Aveo’s (NASDAQ:AVEO) chief executive says the company wrapped up the enrollment for a Phase III trial of drug tivozanib, a kidney cancer treatment, six months ahead of its originally planned one-year time frame.

—Waltham-based PerkinElmer (NYSE: PKI), a provider of medical research and diagnostics products, said it was selling its illumination and detection solutions unit to New York private equity firm Veritas Capital, for around $500 million in cash. The company said the sale of the unit, which has 3,000 employees and 14 plants worldwide, would give it capital to invest in its main human and environmental health businesses. The IDS unit produces specialty lighting and sensor components for the health, environmental, and security spaces.

—Mercator Therapeutics, which recently raised funding and inked an initial licensing deal for its peptide based drugs, is also soon to move into office space in Waltham, after operating virtually since it launched in November 2009. The firm working on technology to discover protein fragments that target tumor cells, which could enable doctors to treat only diseased tissues and spare healthy tissues.

—Drugmaker giant Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) announced its agreement to purchase Cambridge-based FoldRx Pharmaceuticals, representing another acquisition of Boston biotechs in the rare disease drug market. FoldRx’s lead drug candidate is targeting the neurodegenerative disorder TTR amyloid polyneuropathy.

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