Vertex, Ariad, Alnylam, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences Newsmakers

12/16/11Follow @xconomy

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existing fat. It’s tapping into fresh understanding of brown fat, a bodily tissue that could help people burn off the more familiar white fat.

—Cambridge-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals promoted board member Jeff Leiden to the role of chief executive. Leiden, a managing director at Clarus Ventures in Boston, will replace current president and CEO Matt Emmens come Feb. 1. The move comes after a tumultuous year on Wall Street for Vertex (NASDAQ: VRTX) and a quickly shifting landscape for hepatitis C drugs, Vertex’s area of focus.

—Cerulean Pharma, a Cambridge-based maker of nanoparticle drugs, raised $15 million in Series D funding. The money came from its existing backers, Polaris Venture Partners, Venrock, Lilly Ventures, Lux Capital, and Bessemer Venture Partners, as well as new investor CVF, an affiliate of Henry Crown and Company.

Atlas Venture and Shire Pharmaceuticals announced a new multi-year collaboration to target investment opportunities in startups working on treatments for rare diseases. Shire’s team of scientists will conduct experiments that Cambridge-based Atlas would like to test, and both firms will invest in the deals.

—Ariad Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARIA) is selling 21.5 million shares of its stock at $10.42 apiece. That comes to gross proceeds of more than $224 million for the Cambridge-based drugmaker. Underwriters of the deal got a 30-day option to purchase another 3.2 million shares.

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