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Tolerx Shutters, Courtagen Gets $8M, OvaScience Emerges, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

We saw stories about New England life sciences companies in a range of stages this week: kicking off, shutting down, and growing.

—Cambridge, MA-based biotech Tolerx will be shutting down its operations, after raising a total of more than $150 million from backers like HealthCare Ventures, Skyline Ventures, and Sprout Group. The company’s diabetes drug otelixizumab missed its goals in a pivotal clinical trial earlier this year. Tolerx will be handing the drug over to its partner GlaxoSmithKline and has already begun liquidating its assets through auctions.

—My colleague Arlene took a closer look at Cambridge-based Agios Pharmaceuticals, which just added another $20 million on top of the $130 million already committed in a collaboration deal it had in place with New Jersey-based Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG). The two companies are working to develop cancer metabolism drugs that starve tumors of the enzymes needed to grow.

—Courtagen Life Sciences, formerly called Avantra Biosciences, raised $8 million in new funding.The developer of protein biomarkers for disease detection raised a $7 million round of financing last year.

—Boston-based OvaScience came out of stealth mode, unveiling its technique (licensed from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital) for improving in vitro fertilization. The company, co-founded and funded by Sirtris Pharmaceuticals veterans Michelle Dipp and Christoph Westphal, aims to improve the quality of eggs using a type of stem cell found in ovaries.