Aileron Expands Roche Deal, Agios Gets $78M, Genzyme MS Drug Advances, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

11/18/11Follow @xconomy

Clinical data, startup financings, and collaborations, oh my. It’s been a busy New England life sciences news week.

—Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme revealed that its experimental multiple sclerosis treatment, alemtuzumab (Lemtrada), significantly reduced relapses and disability in a Phase 3 trial where it was tested head-to-head against Rebif, a form of interferon sold by EMD Serono and Pfizer. The drug from Sanofi’s Genzyme reduced relapse rates by 49 percent and reduced the risk of worsening disability by 42 percent.

—Lexington, MA-based Avaxia Biologics recently announced a $2.2 million investment led by Cherrystone Angels in Providence, RI, with participation from Boston Harbor Angels and undisclosed individual investors. Avaxia is developing an anti-inflammatory drug by inoculating pregnant cows and collecting antibodies from their milk.

—Third Rock Ventures, Frazier Healthcare Ventures, and Bessemer Venture Partners led a $15 million Series A investment in Allena Pharmaceuticals of Newton, MA. The startup, whose team comes from the now Eli Lilly-owned biotech Alnara, is working on enzyme-based oral treatments for kidney and urologic diseases.

–Agios Pharmaceuticals of Cambridge took in $78 million in an oversubscribed Series C financing. The money comes from existing investors Arch Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures, and Third Rock Ventures, and Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG), who Agios has been collaborating with on developing cancer-starving drugs.

—Speaking of drug collaborations, Cambridge-based Aileron Therapeutics expanded a partnership it first inked with Roche in 2010. The two companies had been working on turning Aileron’s “stapled peptide” technology into cancer treatments in two programs, and announced this week that they would add a third, focused on inflammatory diseases.

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