East Coast Life Sciences Roundup: Aveo, Mayo Clinic, GI Dynamics, More

1/18/13Follow @cathyarnst

Cambridge, MA-based companies had their share of stock offering announcements this week. Plus, Cambridge gained another company, a key clinical trial started for an unusual anti-obesity device, and New Yorkers discussed how to put their life sciences industry on the map.

AVEO Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AVEO) said on Thursday it plans to raise $50 million by selling 6.7 million shares priced at $7.50 each. The company has been trying to conserve cash as it waits for an FDA decision, due in July, on its tivozanib drug for kidney cancer,

—Earlier in the week another Cambridge company, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY), said it plans to raise $125 million  by offering 8 million shares at $20.13 a share, in a deal scheduled to close on January 22. Alnylam will use the money to finance clinical trials for its leading drug candidates.

—And Cambridge is about to get a little more crowded: United HealthCare’s (NYSE: UNH) Optum health technology division and The Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, MN, announced on Tuesday that they will jointly form OptumLabs, a data-mining project that will sift through millions of medical records provided by both partners in an effort to find ways to improve patient care. OptumLabs will be based in the Massachusetts biotech hub, where Optum is already located.

GI Dynamics, in Lexington, MA, took the next step in developing its unusual device for treating diabetes and obesity with the announcement on Tuesday that it is starting a pivotal clinical trial in the US. The device, called EndoBarrier, is a two-foot long, tube-shaped, flexible liner meant to form a barrier to food absorption for a portion of the intestine. The trial—which ultimately could allow the company to file for FDA approval of the device—will enroll 500 patients at 25 sites across the US, and follow them for 12 months.

—In New York City, entrepreneurs and investors gathered this week to come up with ideas on how to create an ecosystem for medical device startups in the Big Apple. Most everyone agreed that the city’s many hospitals and universities should step up their technology transfer efforts, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is already doing so with the establishment in 2012 of a division focused on turning the inventions of its surgeons into commercial medical device enterprises.

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