Alnylam, Aveo, Biogen, & More Boston Life Sciences Newsmakers

1/6/12Follow @xconomy

Clinical trial results and drug collaborators made up the New England life sciences news this week.

—New Jersey-based drugmaker Merck announced backing a few Boston-area companies in the past few weeks. Its Global Health Innovation Fund led a $10 million financing for Cambridge, MA-based Daktari Diagnostics, a developer of technology for testing small quantities of blood and other fluids that it hopes can monitor HIV patients in the developing world. And Merck pledged $17 million to Marlborough, MA-based Physicians Interactive Holdings. The company will put the money towards developing its online and mobile tools to connect doctors and pharmaceutical companies.

—An experimental drug from Cambridge-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY) helped lower so-called bad cholesterol by an average of 39 percent at the highest dose studied in a small clinical trial.

—Aveo Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AVEO) of Cambridge said it met it goals in a clinical trial called TIVO-1 of its experimental drug for treating kidney cancer. In the study of 517 patients, Aveo’s tivozanib was able to keep tumors from spreading a median of 11.9 months, compared with 9.1 months for another drug in its class from Bayer and Onyx Pharmaceuticals. It was a narrow victory, though, as the trial’s goal was to show the Aveo drug kept tumors from spreading about an extra three months.

—Weston, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) said it will pay Carlsbad, CA-based Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS) up to $299 million for collaborating on a treatment for a spinal muscular atrophy, a rare disorder found in newborns.

Inspiration Biopharmaceuticals moved into its new digs in Kendall Square, after more than seven years of operating as a virtual biotech company that’s pursuing hemophilia treatments. It was founded by hedge fund manager John Taylor and Scott Martin, a Texas energy veteran whose son has hemophilia.

—The founders of Sermo, a Cambridge-based provider of an online community for doctors, are moving on to a new spinoff called par8o, the online publication Pharmalot reported. CEO Daniel Palestrant and chief medical officer Adam Sharp say on the par8o website that the new company will be focused on more efficiently connecting doctors and patients.

—Watertown, MA-based Forma Therapeutics inked a deal with Germany-based Boehringer Ingelheim that provides $65 million in upfront cash and four years of R&D support for discovering cancer drugs. Forma, which now has seven partnerships with heavy hitters, could also get potentially $750 million more from Boehringer Ingelheim as the cancer drugs move through development.

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