The Boston Life Sciences Newsmakers: Civitas, Blend, Forma, & More

1/13/12Follow @xconomy

Development deals, clinical advances, startup funding, and new hires made up the New England life sciences news this week.

—Chelsea, MA-based Civitas Therapeutics, a spinout from the Waltham, MA, biotech Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS), said that its inhaled form of the Parkinson’s disease drug L-dopa performed well in a Phase 1 clinical trial. The study aimed to test the drug’s safety and whether the drug’s delivery to the lungs gets it into the bloodstream in levels that produce a therapeutic outcome.

—Serial biotech entrepreneurs Bob Langer (of MIT) and Omid Farokhzad (of Harvard Medical School) have founded their newest company, Blend Therapeutics, alongside MIT professor Stephen Lippard. Blend is reportedly backed by Flagship Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, and NanoDimension.

—Cambridge-based genomics analysis startup Knome named former NormOxys CEO Martin Tolar its new chief executive and landed a new contract from Johns Hopkins University.

—Watertown, MA-based Forma Therapeutics announced a cancer drug discovery partnership with Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE: JNJ) Janssen Biotech, worth up to $700 million over time. That’s less than a week after Forma’s $65 million partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim was announced.

Warp Drive Bio came out of the woodwork this week with $125 million in funding, and hopes to examine the genetic makeup of plants, animals, and other organisms to find hot new drugs. Cambridge-based Warp is backed by Boston firm Third Rock Ventures, Greylock Partners, and French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, and has an elite roster of founders, including Harvard genomics expert George Church.

—Cambridge-based Flagship Ventures surpassed its initial $250 million expectation for its fourth fund, announcing the fund closed at $270 million. It will focus on investments in the life sciences and cleantech sectors.

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