Merck Ends Aveo Deal, Acceleron Rides Pharma Partnership Wave, Rhythmia Raises $5M, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

10/1/10

The birth and death of partnerships was the subject of much of this week’s news in New England’s life sciences sector.

Rhythmia Medical raised $5 million in an equity offering that could end up being worth $7 million, according to a regulatory filing, bringing the Burlington, MA-based startup’s total funding to $17 million. Rhythmia is developing a catheter-based device that creates a 3D map of the heart in order to pinpoint the tissues responsible for irregular heartbeats.

—Cambridge, MA-based DecImmune Therapeutics raised $1 million in an equity-based financing round led by Astellas Venture Management and joined by return investors Amgen and HealthCare Ventures. DecImmune, a Harvard Medical School spinoff out to develop drugs that reduce inflammation and tissue damage, also won a $2.2 million Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health.

—Diagnostics maker PointCare Technologies of Marlborough, MA, raised $1.8 million of a planned $3.5 million equity round of funding, according to an SEC filing. PointCare’s products are designed to help patients with HIV/AIDS in developing countries.

—Ryan checked in with John Knopf, CEO and co-founder of Cambridge, MA-based Acceleron Pharma, a developer of drugs that treat disease by boosting or inhibiting the growth of particular tissues. With a newly inked deal with Ireland’s Shire in its pocket, along with other pharma partnerships, “Our hope is that we won’t have to go back to our venture backers,” Knopf said.

—Superstar cancer researcher Tyler Jacks, the director of MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, signed up to deliver the a keynote talk at our upcoming Xconomy Forum. The forum, called “Boston’s War on Cancer,” will be hosted by Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company in Cambridge October 20. Full details here.

—Cambridge-based Ligon Discovery forged an alliance with Germany’s Bayer Schering Pharma which gives the German firm access to Ligon’s drug-screening technology, which was developed at Harvard. Terms of the deal—Ligon’s first with a major drugmaker—were not disclosed.

—Ryan make the long (not) trek from Xconomy’s HQ downstairs to the new offices of Lantos Technologies, an MIT spinoff developing technology for 3D imaging of the ear canal. Lantos CEO Shahid Azim talked to Ryan about the advantages and challenges of following in the footsteps of Brontes Technologies, a developer of 3D oral imaging technology co-invented by MIT professor Doug Hart, Lantos’ scientific founder. St. Paul, MN-based 3M (NYSE:MMM) bought Brontes for $95 million just four years after it was founded.

—Cambridge-based Dyax (NASDAQ: DYAX) agreed to let Japanese contract research organization CMIC commercialize its drug DX-88 (ecallantide) in Japan, in exchange for $4 million up front, as much as $102 million in development and sales milestones, and royalties worth 20 percent to 24 percent of net sales. Dyax already markets the drug in the U.S. under the name Kalbitor as a treatment for the inflammatory disease hereditary angioedema.

—Pharma giant Merck ended a collaboration with cancer drug developer Aveo Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AVEO) of Cambridge, returning worldwide rights to the antibody drug candidate AV-299 to the Massachusetts firm. Aveo said its 2010 year-end cash balance will not be affected by the agreement’s termination.

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