Alkermes Drug Approved for Opioid Addiction, Genzyme Faces Shareholder Lawsuits, NinePoint Gets $33M, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

10/15/10Follow @xconomy

New England area biotechs made the news this week with FDA approvals, clinical study results, new financings, and partnership news. We also saw a few interesting trend and profile pieces on drugmakers.

—Boston-based Gelesis, a biotech working on treating obesity, announced that its technology helped rats reduce their food intake over 18 hours when compared to a placebo. The startup is developing a capsule that—when taken with water—is designed to swell 100-fold in the stomach to make patients feel fuller.

—Waltham, MA-based ImmunoGen (NASDAQ: IMGN) announced it will get $45 million upfront from Novartis in exchange for exclusive rights to use its technology to make antibody-based drugs for cancer targets of Novartis’ choosing. ImmunoGen, whose technology combines an antibody’s targeting capabilities with potent, cancer-killing toxins, could also stand to receive $200 million in milestones per target that leads to a cancer drug, and royalties on the drug sales.

InfraReDx, a Burlington, MA-based medical imaging startup, said it raised $21 million in Series D funding from new and return backers. The firm is putting its cash toward U.S. sales of its FDA-approved coronary imaging system, which combines near infrared light and ultrasound technology to provide detailed images of a type of fatty plaque in the arteries.

—Waltham-based Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS) announced it had received FDA approval of its extended-release formulation of naltrexone (Vivitrol) for the purpose of preventing relapse of opioid drug dependence. The drug, injected once per month, received approval in 2006 for treating alcohol dependence.

—Ryan rounded up some of the major storylines—both past and evolving in the future—surrounding the New England biotech scene, including the influence of big pharma companies, the future of gene-silencing drugs, and breakthroughs inthe war on cancer.

—It seems there’s not a week without Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) news around here. This week, the Cambridge, MA-based biotech is facing lawsuits from shareholders regarding its rejection of French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis’ $18.5 billion buyout offer, according to federal documents. In the SEC filings, the investors note that in turning down the deal, Genzyme deprived shareholders “of the opportunity to realize fully the benefits of their investment in the company”

—Ryan took a look at Cambridge-based Galenea, a biotech researching schizophrenia and other neurological disorders that has flown relatively under the radar. The startup—which is completely owned by its founders, employees, and Japanese drug maker Otsuka Pharmaceutical—was founded by MIT professor and Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa.

—Cancer drug development field expert Mike Huckman, a former CNBC correspondent and three-time Emmy award winner, has been added to the speaker lineup for the Xconomy Forum “Boston’s War On Cancer.” He joins the discussion on the New England cancer research landscape with execs from biotechs like Dicerna Therapeutics, Millenium: The Takeda Oncology Company, Quanterix, Constellation Pharmaceuticals, and many more.

—Cambridge-based device startup NinePoint Medical revealed it had raised $33 million in Series A funding from Third Rock Ventures and Prospect Venture Partners. NinePoint is working on optical devices that could enable doctors to inspect potentially cancerous cells inside the body during procedures like biopsies, and also enable doctors to remotely review tissue images from procedures done elsewhere. The startup said it will hire 25 new employees over the next year.

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