Vertex CF Drug Delivers, Follica Patent Application Reveals Tech, RXi Buys Apthera, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

4/1/11Follow @xconomy

This week we’ve seen news of acquisitions and funding, as well as longer articles on strategy and research moves for New England’s life sciences firms.

—BL Healthcare, a provider of telemedicine products that is based in Foxboro, MA, has bumped its Series A funding round up to $4.9 million, with another $2 million in equity-, debt-, and rights-based financing, an SEC filing showed.

—Luke took a look at the moves that Cambridge, MA-based Epizyme has been making in scoring deals with Big Pharma companies. GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) paid the three-year-old biotech $20 million upfront with potentially another $630 million in milestones for a drug discovery partnership, and Japanese firm Eisai Pharmaceuticals will pump $6 million upfront and potentially $200 million in milestones into Epizyme for a collaboration to develop cancer drugs.

—Cambridge-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX) said the Phase III study of its cystic fibrosis drug, VX-770, met its primary goal among patients ages 6 to 11 of improving lung function through 24 weeks, showing that the drug is working about as well in children as it did in older patients with the genetic disorder. The 48-week study of 52 patients is still ongoing, but at 24 weeks, children on the drug showed a mean absolute improvement from baseline in lung function of 12.5 percent.

—Follica, the baldness treatment developer that got started in Boston in 2006, is working to protect its technology that uses lithium treatments to stimulate new hair growth with a patent application, filed in September and published this March. But that’s only one piece of the multiple areas of research that Follica is focusing on, CEO and president William Ju told Ryan.

—Worcester, MA-based RNA interference drug developer RXi Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: RXII) announced it has agreed to acquire Scottsdale, AZ-based Apthera, a developer of peptide immunotherapies for cancer. Apthera shareholders will get 4.8 million of RXi’s shares, which were valued at $1.50 before the deal. As part of the agreement, RXi CEO Noah Beerman will resign and will be replaced by RXi board member Mark Ahn.

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