RXi Splits Up, Zeo Launches Mobile Sleep-Tracking App, Karuna Licenses Schizophrenia Compounds, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

9/30/11Follow @xconomy

This week’s New England life sciences news spanned companies targeting cancer, schizophrenia, sleep improvement, and genomic analysis.

—Newton, MA-based health IT startup Zeo announced it added a mobile app version of its sleep tracking and coaching system. The company hopes the tool, which pushes sleep data gathered from a sensor-laden headband to a user’s mobile interface, can be integrated with other apps focused on improving wellness.

—RXi Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: RXII) of Worcester, MA, announced that it will divide its work on RNA therapeutics from other pursuits, by splitting up into two publicly traded companies. Galena Biopharma, one of the companies, will pursue cancer treatments, while RXi will continue work in RNA interference—molecules that silence disease-causing genes—through developing RXI-109, its drug candidate for treating fibrosis and scarring.

—Boston-based Acetylon Pharmaceuticals, a biotech startup backed by the holding group of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, started a human trial of one of its cancer drugs (ACY-1215) that fights the disease by targeting enzymes related to gene expression.

—Karuna Pharmaceuticals, a startup incubated at Boston’s PureTech Ventures and led by ex-Pfizer exec Ed Harrigan, announced it had licensed a group of experimental schizophrenia drugs from Nashville-based Vanderbilt University. The compounds are believed to treat schizophrenia symptoms such as memory loss and the inability to experience pleasure or to carry on normal social interactions, which aren’t currently addressed on the market.

—Cambridge, MA-based Knome is expanding its genomics analysis businesses beyond the mega-wealthy, by targeting researchers in bioinformatics and other fields, my colleague Luke wrote.

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