DARPA Backs Pulmatrix’s Lung Treatment, Adimab Scores More Pharma Partners, Semprus Secures $18M, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

12/17/10

New England’s life sciences companies headed into the holiday break with mostly good news.

Syndax Pharmaceuticals reported results from a mid-stage clinical trial which suggest that its lead drug, entinostat, might help lung certain cancer patients with a particular molecular marker live longer. The Waltham, MA-based startup, co-founded by researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in 2005, will have to confirm the results in future studies. The company is also testing the drug’s effectiveness as a breast-cancer treatment.

—Semprus BioSciences, an MIT spinoff based in Cambridge, MA, raised $18 million in Series B equity financing. New investors SR One and Foundation Medical Partners led the deal and return backers 5AM Ventures and Pangaea Ventures joined in, bringing Semprus’ total equity financing to $28.5 million.

—The drawn-out saga of Sanofi-Aventis’ attempt to buy out Cambridge-based Genzyme (NASDAQ:GENZ) was drawn out a bit farther, when the French drug giant extended the deadline for its tender offer for Genzyme stock until January 21. Sanofi is offering $69 per share, or $18.5 billion total, for Genzyme, which thinks the price is too low. Shareholders are betting that the bids will continue to go higher, as Genzyme stock closed yesterday at $69.87.

—The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) made a $5.7 million grant to Lexington, MA-based Pulmatrix to fund development of an inhaled therapy that could treat and prevent lung infections caused by naturally occurring microbes and bioweapons. Pulmatrix’s dry-powder technology, which originated at MIT and Harvard, is also under development to address respiratory ailments such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

—Lebanon, NH-based Adimab announced that Genentech, Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY), and Human Genome Sciences (NASDAQ:HGSI) have joined the roster of pharma companies using its technology for discovering antibody-based drugs. The new agreements bring Adimab’s number of antibody discovery partnerships to a whopping 15.

—Cardiac pump maker HeartWare International (NASDAQ:HTWR) of Framingham, MA, raised $143.8 million in a public offering of convertible notes.

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