Biogen Eyes Cambridge Move, Vertex Licenses Alios Drugs, Concert Nabs GSK Payment, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

6/24/11Follow @xconomy

We didn’t bring you a life sciences roundup last Friday due to some time constraints, but some of the weeks’ headlines were too important to skip altogether. So here are two weeks worth of biotech profiles, partnership announcements, personnel moves, financing news, and more.

—The American Chemical Society awarded its highest honor, the Priestley Medal, to MIT bioengineering professor Bob Langer, in a rare move, as the award typically goes to chemists. The ACE cited Langer’s prolific laboratory and droves of patents, pending patents, and dozens of companies started as the reason he got the award.

—Cambridge, MA-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals paid $60 million upfront to license a couple of new hepatitis C drug candidates from South San Francisco-based Alios Biopharma that it hopes to make part of an entirely oral drug regimen for the disease. Vertex (NASDAQ: VRTX) could pay up to $715 million in development milestone payments over time, and potentially $750 million in sales milestones.

Tal Medical launched to commercialize technology developed at Belmont, MA-based McLean Hospital that aims to treat depression using a specific type of magnetic field found in some MRI imaging machines. The company has about $800,000 in seed funding from PureTech Ventures and other investors, and an Eli Lilly veteran as its chief scientific officer.

Former Genzyme CEO Henri Termeer took a spot on the board of Verastem, a startup aiming to develop treatments against cancer stem cells.

—My colleague Luke caught up with Weston, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) CEO George Scangos in the biotech’s temporary office space in Kendall Square. Biogen is eyeing a move of its headquarters back into Cambridge to be closer to R&D operations there.

—Our New York editor Arlene wrote a profile on Constellation Pharmaceuticals, the Cambridge-based epigenetics startup that earlier this month announced it had raised another $15 million in its Series B venture financing—bringing the total amount of money raised by the company to $70 million.

—Lexington, MA-based Concert Pharmaceuticals said one of the novel drug candidates in its pipeline nabbed a $4 million milestone payment from GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), which is making the molecule its lead drug in an HIV program that it partnered with Concert on in 2009.

—An experimental skin cancer drug developed by Cambridge-based Curis and South San Francisco-based Genentech passed a pivotal clinical trial of 104 patients.

—Waltham, MA-based Tesaro took in a $101 million Series B financing led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The deal also included founding backer New Enterprise Associates, and new investors that include InterWest Partners, T. Rowe Price, Pappas Ventures, Oracle Partners, Deerfield Management, and Leerink Swann. Tesaro looks to scoop up drug candidates discovered by other biotechs and further them through clinical development.

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