Enanta, Satori, Vertex & More of the Week’s Life Sciences Newsmakers

2/24/12Follow @xconomy

Drug development news was big this week in the Boston life sciences scene.

—Watertown-based Enanta Pharmaceuticals inked a lucrative partnership with Novartis to co-develop an experimental hepatitis C drug. The deal gives Enanta $34 million in upfront cash, and potentially $440 million in milestone payments if the drug reaches certain goals, as well as royalties on a double-digit percentage of worldwide product sales.

Satori Pharmaceuticals socked away $15 million in new funding led by existing backers InterWest Partners, New Enterprise Associates and Prospect Venture Partners. The Cambridge, MA-based startup, which is developing drugs for Alzheimer’s disease, also made a few announcements related to its board: Donald Hayden, former president of worldwide medicines at Bristol-Myers Squibb, is the new chairman, and David Schnell of Prospect Venture Partners and Stephen Muniz of PureTech Ventures are new members.

—My colleague Arlene reports that Transparency Life Sciences released the beta version of a virtual community of physicians, scientists, and patients whose input is helping the company develop a trio of drugs. The website is being managed by employees in Boston and New York and aims to be the Linux-esque open source code for drug development.

—Cambridge-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals has released promising preliminary data from a small clinical trial that tested a combination of three hepatitis C pills, including telaprevir (Incivek), the Vertex drug that won FDA approval last year. That regimen aims to eliminate the need for injectable interferon, which is currently given alongside Incivek and causes flu-like symptoms. If the findings can be confirmed in future trials, Vertex (NASDAQ: VRTX) may be able to fend off other drug giants who fiercely competing for a piece of the hepatitis C market.

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