Lilly Funds Cerulean, Genzyme Sells Diagnostics Unit, Roche Ends RNAi Program, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

11/19/10Follow @xconomy

We saw some in-depth profiles of New England-area biotechs’ drug development strategies, as well as breaking news on financings and partnership deals.

—While Bay Area biotech startup Gatekeeper Pharmaceuticals, Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Novartis continue their legal wrangling over a potential lung cancer drug, Waltham, MA-based Avila Therapeutics is working on its own treatment for the disease. The biotech is using its covalent drug technology in a partnership with Boulder, CO-based Clovis Oncology to discover treatments for non-small cell lung cancers that are resistant to existing drugs.

—Ryan took a look at how Waltham-based biotech Alkermes navigated the aftermath of a negative regulatory decision. The firm’s operations have stayed the same and it has not made any layoffs, despite its request for approval of a once-weekly version of the diabetes drug exenatide (Bydureon) being shot down by the FDA.

—Cerulean Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge, MA-based developer of nanoparticle drugs, brought in a $24 million Series C funding round, led by Lilly Ventures, the venture arm of drug giant Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY). The startup will put the funding, which also came from existing backers Bessemer Venture Partners, Lux Capital, Polaris Venture Partners, and Venrock Associates, toward a mid-stage clinical trial of its lead drug, CRLX101, for patients with lung cancer.

Verastem, a Boston-based startup out to develop cancer-fighting drugs that target cancer stem cells, kicked off with $16 million in Series A funding. The startup was founded with investments by Longwood Founders Fund, and the Series A round also includes Bessemer Venture Partners, Cardinal Partners, and MPM Capital. Founded by MIT biologists Robert Weinberg and Eric Lander, Verastem has developed a … Next Page »

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