East Coast Life Sciences Roundup: Selecta, Rib-X, Cambridge, & More

11/30/12Follow @cathyarnst

Big Pharma expanded its love affair with biotech startups this week, making investments and doing deals, while Cambridge continued to be the place to do business for emerging life sciences companies. New York, on the other hand, is hosting an awful lot of clinical trials.

—On Thursday, Rib-X Pharmaceuticals of New Haven, CT, closed the first tranche of a $67.5 million Series 2 preferred stock financing, and said a second tranche should close by year end. The funds are a replacement for a planned IPO that Rib-X pulled in May because of poor market conditions.

—Selecta Biosciences of Watertown, MA, on Wednesday announced a big endorsement for its polymer nanoparticle technology from Sanofi (NYSE: SNY); the French pharma giant will pay up to $900 million to Selecta in a vaccine development deal for as many as three unspecified life-threatening allergies. Selecta opened an outpost in Moscow the same day to support a development pact it signed a year ago with Russia’s Rusnano.

—The Sanofi deal came a day after Pfizer’s (NYSE: PFE) venture capital arm agreed to invest $8 million in Boston-based Rhythm, completing a $33 million series B financing that will support development of drugs for obesity and diabetes. And on Monday. Hello Health, the New York-based subsidiary of Montreal’s Mycah Health, raised $11.5 million in additional financing to expand its electronic health records business.

—Cambridge, MA, took more strides towards becoming the premier location for life sciences companies. On Monday, H3 Biomedicine announced that, just a year after opening its headquarters in Cambridge, it has completed an expansion that more than doubles its original space to approximately 48,000 square feet. The company also expects to increase its workforce to 75 by the end of 2013, from 29 in 2011. Three days later, Era7 Bioinformatics of Granada, Spain, announced the opening of its first US office, in the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square. The 8-year-old company does bacterial genomic sequencing and said it will have three employees in Cambridge by year’s end.

—New York State is holding its own, at least when it comes to testing experimental medical treatments. A report published this week by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America trade group says that approximately one-third of all clinical trials conducted in the U.S. since 1999 have been based in New York State. That’s a total of 6,285 trials, including some 1,230 that are ongoing now.

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