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Magen Biosciences, a Waltham, MA-based company focused on novel dermatology treatments, is acquired by the contract research firm PPD for $14.5 million December 18, 2010

Posted by HubTechInsider in Acquisitions, Biotech, Health Care IT, Pharmaceuticals, Startups.
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Magen Biosciences, a Waltham, MA-based company focused on novel dermatology treatments, will be acquired by the contract research firm PPD for $14.5 million. The firm was founded in 2006 by a well known group of biotech entrepreneuers and investors, including Rich Aldrich, founder of RA Capital, David Fisher, chief of dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Christoph Westphal, co-founder of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals. Having raised $17 million in seed and Series A financing from a syndicate of backers including ARCH Venture Partners, TVM Capital, and IDG Ventures (now Flybridge Capital Partners), the purchase price is unlikely to result in an exit for Magen’s backers.

Back in 2008, Magen inlicensed for an undisclosed sum a number of derm compounds from Eli Lilly that showed positive anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative results in preclinical studies. It’s a good thing they did: those compounds were the primary reason for PPD’s interest in the biotech. The buy-out gives PPD an entrée into the specialist field of dermatology. In a press release announcing the news, PPD CEO Fred Eshelman noted that dermatologic treatments generally have a “more straightforward path to regulatory approval.” That’s certainly part of the logic behind moves of another specialist drug maker, Valeant, which is trying to brand itself as a derm power-house thanks to the recent acquisitions of Coria Laboratories, Dow, and DermaTech.

Cambridge’s Knome pioneers the new science of DNA gene sequencing: is there a DNA scan in your health care future? March 8, 2010

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Gene researchers have been anticipating for years now about how gene sequencing technology will revolutionize the practice of medicine. With the steady advancement of Moore’s law-induced cost lowering, cheap gene sequencing means this revolution is now underway. The cost of decoding all 6 Billion letters in the human genome has dropped from around $1 Million in 2007 to less than $20,000 today.

Already the cost of performing a gene scan on a patient can be lowered to $2,500 if a two-step method is used to extract and sequence only the 1% of the gene sequences that contain known genes. New gene sequencers being introduced by companies such as Illumina and Life Technologies could lower the cost of sequencing an entire patient’s genome to below $3,000 by the end of 2010.

Although DNA sequencers have not been approved for use in medical testing, and insurers don’t pay for sequencing, peering into the DNA of wealthy patients with rare and scary diseases is becoming an option.

Knome, a privately held, Cambridge, Massachusetts based company, started out in 2008 by charging up to $350,000 to arrange sequencing and interpretation of the gene data for wealthy patrons as a vanity project. The company now offers the scans for as little as $25,000. The company’s CEO, Jorge Conde, is said to have expressed that several patients hoping to use the scans to guide their care providers in diagnosis and prescription. Cancer patients may be among the first to benefit from DNA sequencing technology.

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Cambridge’s Ligon Discovery raises $1 Million in seed capital funding December 2, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Biotech, Health Care IT, Pharmaceuticals, Startups, Venture Capital.
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Ligon Discovery reported recently on its website that it has raised $1 milllion in seed financing from incTANK Ventures. The Cambridge, MA-based startup says it uses a small molecule microarray system developed at Harvard University to discover drugs, and the drug-discovery technology has already been put to work at the Broad Institute. The company founders include Benjamin Ebert of Harvard Medical School, Angela Koehler of the Broad Institute, and company CEO Patrick Kleyn, who was previously director of scientific planning at the Broad. As part of the financing, IncTank Ventures general partner Christian Bailey is joining the board of directors at Ligon, according to the company.

Cambridge’s Cambridgesoft, life sciences software company, raises $31.3 Million in equity funding December 1, 2009

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Cambridge, MA-based Cambridgesoft, which makes software for life sciences companies, disclosed in regulatory documents filed November 17 that it has raised $31.3 million in new equity-based financing. Cambridgesoft first announced the funding round (though not the amount) in a November 16 release that named new investor Health Evolution Partners and existing investor Goldman Sachs as the funders in the round.

Waltham’s ImmunoGen lands a $1 Million licensing fee from Amgen November 25, 2009

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Waltham, MA-based ImmunoGen (NASDAQ: IMGN) said recently that Amgen has purchased a second license to develop a treatment that uses ImmunoGen’s technology for linking targeted antibodies to cell-killing agents that make them more potent. ImmunoGen will get $1 million upfront and could receive $34 million worth of milestone payments over time if Amgen is successful in developing a drug against an undisclosed target on cancer cells. Amgen bought its first such license to the ImmunoGen technology in September.

Cambridge based Genocea Biosciences tests experimental vaccines in a simulated human immune system November 14, 2009

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Cambridge, MA -based Genocea Biosciences uses technology developed at the Harvard Medical School to very rapidly test experimental vaccines in a simulated version of the human immune system.

The startup has raised $23 Million from venture capital firms SR One and Waltham -based Polaris Ventures.

Epizyme, based in Cambridge and working on cancer-fighting genetic drugs, has raised $32 Million from a diverse group of investors including Kleiner Perkins, Amgen and Astrellas Pharma November 14, 2009

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Epizyme, based in Cambridge, MA and working on cancer-fighting genetic drugs, announced on October 7th that it had raised $32 Million from a diverse group of investors including the famed Silicon Valley -based Kleiner Perkins Caulfied and Beyers, the the venture-investing units of both biotech giant Amgen and Japanese drugmaker Astrellas Pharma.

The startup has raised $46 Million to date. Epizyme’s drugs attack cancer-causing enzymes. Genes determine how our bodies change over time. But they only spring into action when prompted by another set of biochemical factors – seperate from DNA – known as the epigenome. Epizyme scientists believe they may be able to control disease-related genes by aiming new drugs at these factors.

The science of epigenetics is understandably complex. Raising such funds was an impressive feat for this startup, given a market that is hostile currently to biotech startups.

The amount of venture capital raised by biotechs in the third quarter of 2009 dropped 30% Year-over-year, to $759 Million, according to a recent report by financial services firm Burrill & Co.

Epizyme is primarily in the spotlight for its promising research on cancer. The company’s understanding of how DNA wraps around proteins that control how genes create cells, tissues and organs are the basis of its discoveries.

Epizyme’s newest genetic pharmaceuticals are designed to cripple malfunctioning enzymes that contribute to such afflictions as cancers of the prostrate, lung, breast and more. These drugs may someday be tested against inflammatory diseases, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease as well.

Dr. Kazumi Shiosaki, PhD, is a chemist who founded Epizyme with funding from MPM Capital, where she worked after leaving Millenium Pharmaceuticals. Prior to that, Shiosaki worked at Abbott Laboratories.

Epizyme is working in the exciting field of epigenetics and has a solid stable of talented scientists and drug industry veterans, including Chief Scientific Officer Robert A. Copeland, who came to the company from GlaxoSmithKline.

BioAssets Development, a Wellesley based investigator of spinal applications for existing drugs, enters into $30 Million option to be acquired by Cephalon November 12, 2009

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Frazer, PA-based Cephalon (NASDAQ: CEPH) has agreed to pay $30 million for an option to acquire BioAssets Development Corporation, a Wellesley, MA-based company investigating spinal uses for existing and experimental drugs, according to a press release. Under the terms of the agreement, BioAssets will be eligible for an additional payment if Cephalon exercises the option, as well as for payments tied to regulatory and sales milestones.

Watertown, MA based Harvard University spinoff Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals raises $10 million out of a planned 29.6 million equity financing round October 28, 2009

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Watertown, MA-based Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals has raised $10 million out of a planned $29.6 million equity financing round, according to regulatory documents filed Wednesday. The Harvard spinoff, which is using synthetic chemistry to develop new antibiotics for drug-resistant infections, previously raised $25 million in two tranches that closed in August 2008.

E Ink of Cambridge, MA to be acquired by their largest customer, Taiwan-based PVI (Prime View International) June 9, 2009

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Cambridge-based E Ink Corporation will be acquired by Taiwan-based PVI (Prime View International), their largest customer, in a pending $215 million deal. E Ink employs about 120 people at their Cambridge, MA headquarters and another five or so employees at their just opened coating and film production plant in South Hadley, MA.

E Ink manufactures the key display technology used in devices such as the Amazon Kindle, Kindle DX and Kindle 2 and other brand electronic readers. This market is expected to grow rapidly; In a better stock market for Initial Public Offerings, or IPOs, a company such as E Ink would normally be able to turn to the public markets for expansion capital. But the IPO market in the US is very slow, with only seven IPOs so far on Wall Street this year.

The largest investor in the 12-year old company is FA Technology Ventures in Boston. One of their Managing Partners, Ken Mabbs, has a Board seat. Another financial backer of E Ink is Solstice Capital in Boston.

E Ink was founded in 1997 by CEO Russ Wilcox and four partners, one of whom was Joseph Jacobson from the MIT Media Lab. The company has raised more than $150 million in capital, from venture firms and also industry strategic partners such as Hearst Corp., Intel Corp., and Motorola.

Under the acquisition plan, E Ink would be a wholly owned subsidiary of PVI, retain its local management and employees, and help PVI refocus on the electronic paper market.

Within the past year, other Massachusetts-based startups have been purchased by foreign or out-of-state buyers, including companies such as Maven Networks, Virtual iron, Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Sirtis Pharmaceuticals – ranging in technologies from traditional networking technology to biotechnology.

Boston Biotech goes on life support May 2, 2009

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biotechFor Boston’s high-risk, cash-intensive biotech industry, it’s now-or-never time. Biotech companies have always been notoriously risky. They tend to burn through cash – to develop one drug can cost as much as $1 billion – and operate on a “pre-revenue” basis for years. Now the credit crunch is hitting the lab-coat crowd harder than most. For private outfits venture money is drying up on one end, and on the other there’s no easy exit in an IPO; on the publicly traded side, small and midsize listed companies are struggling to find enough funding to stay afloat. Life sciences research firm Burrill & Company says that one-third of publicly traded biotechs have less than six months’ worth of cash left – and he predicts that as many as 100 might go under or be forced to merge this year (10 have filed for bankruptcy since November). While that’s bad news for some companies, other companies may benefit from the available assets and skilled staff of these Boston biotech firms should they prove unable to bring their promising new drugs to market.

Oscient Pharmaceuticals, a Waltham, MA company working on drugs for high blood cholesterol and chronic bronchitis, and financed by Orbimed Advisors and Paul Capital Partners, has asked Broadpoint Capital to explore a possible sale after auditors warned the 213-employee company of an impending cash shortage.

Altus Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridgeport, MA company working on drugs for gastrointestinal and metabolic disorders, and funded by U.S. Venture Partners and Warburg Pincus, has pulled the plug on its drug for cystic fibrosis and cut more than 100 jobs. One of Altus’ VC board members resigned abruptly in April.

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