Millennium, Vertex, Avila, & More Boston Life Sciences Newsmakers

1/27/12Follow @xconomy

It was a busy news week in the New England life sciences scene, with acquisitions, clinical data, and partnership deals.

—Thanks to a new co-promotion deal, Genzyme will begin marketing a diagnostic test for thyroid cancer developed by South San Francisco-based Veracyte. Genzyme, the Cambridge, MA-based unit of Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) makes a common drug for treating the disease.

—Cambridge-based Infinity Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INFI) presented data from a 16-patient study indicating saridegib, its experimental once-daily pill, could potentially shrink tumors and help people live longer when combined with chemotherapy.

—Millennium, also of Cambridge, nabbed FDA clearance to begin selling a version of the multiple myeloma drug bortezomib (Velcade) that can be injected just under the skin, as well as intravenously. It’s significant because the under-the-skin drug seems to be more tolerable, reducing the drug’s side effect of nerve damage in the fingers and toes.

—Xconomy national biotech editor Luke Timmerman wrote about how Cambridge-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX) and its South San Francisco-based partner Alios Biopharma are positioning themselves to defend their share of the hot growing market for hepatitis C treatments.

—And my colleague Arlene wrote about the family-run business that is Woburn, MA-based Courtagen Life Sciences. Three brothers fill the roles of CEO, president, and chief scientific officer, while their dad chairs the board. Read about more about how it all came together.

—Bedford, MA-based Avila Therapeutics, a maker of so-called covalent drugs for treating cancer, was bought by New Jersey-based Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) for $350 million upfront. Potentially $575 million more could come to Avila through milestones. The startup’s venture investors included Polaris Venture Partners, Atlas Venture, Abingworth Management, and Advent Venture Partners. Check out investors’ and friends’ reactions to the deal across the Web here.

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