GSK Backs SpringLeaf, Prexa Nabs $7M from Advent & Shire, Acetylon Gets $5M Partnership, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

5/13/11Follow @xconomy

New England biotechs made headlines this week with partnerships and financing news.

—Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge, MA-based drug developer, bought back the rights to market one of its drugs in Europe and Asia from Taiwan-based PharmaEngine. Merrimack paid $10 million upfront and could pay another $210 million in milestones and royalties to develop and commercialize MM-398, a cancer treatment originally developed by Hermes BioSciences, which was acquired by Merrimack in 2009.

—Cambridge, MA-based Seventh Sense Biosystems announced it had raised $4.5 million in an extension of its Series A financing round, to put toward developing its system for collecting blood in a safer and less painless manner. The money comes from existing Seventh Sense backers Flagship Ventures, Polaris Venture Partners, and Third Rock Ventures. Seventh Sense comes out of Flagship Venture Labs, an incubator program at the venture firm.

Prexa Pharmaceuticals nabbed $7 million in Series B funding from Advent Healthcare Ventures and new investor Shire Pharmaceuticals. The Boston-based biotech, co-founded by Advent in 2006, is developing molecules to safely enhance dopamine activity and norepinephrine activity, to improve on existing treatments for ADHD, depression, and Parkinson’s disease.

Acetylon Pharmaceuticals of Boston announced it could get as much as $4.85 million through a partnership with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society surrounding its experimental drug for multiple myeloma.

—MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship competition included a team working on a more effective treatment for epilepsy. The team, Zinaura Pharmaceuticals, didn’t win the big check, but it’s developing its drug candidate to target new seizure pathways without causing toxicity, addiction, sedation, or cognitive impairment.

SpringLeaf Therapeutics scored $15 million in a Series B financing led by SR One, the corporate VC arm of GlaxoSmithKline. The deal included existing investors Flybridge Capital Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners. SpringLeaf, whose team includes MIT drug delivery ace Michael Cima and A123Systems founder Yet-Ming Chiang, is working on a self-contained system to deliver drugs just under the skin.

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