Follica’s Fortunes Growing, Icahn’s Biogen Holdings Mounting, Genzyme’s Mipomersen Work Progressing, & More Life Sciences News

Xconomy Boston — 

I haven’t done a careful analysis, but I have the impression that there were a few more life sciences venture financings last week than has been typical as of late. Or maybe it just seems that way because this first one made such a splash with our readers.

—Fast on the heels of its $5.5 million Series A financing round last January, Boston-based Follica closed an $11 million B round led by Polaris Venture Partners of Waltham, MA. The startup will use the funds to advance its work on a treatment for male- and female-pattern baldness.

—Activist investor Carl Icahn upped his holdings in Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) from 4.3 percent to 6 percent—taking advantage of a dramatic drop in the stock’s price prompted by the news that two multiple sclerosis patients taking the company’s drug Tysabri had contracted a rare and potentially fatal brain infection.

—Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY) of Cambridge, MA, won a $7.5 million contract from the National Institutes of Health to continue its effort, begun two years ago, to develop RNAi-based treatments against hemorrhagic fever viruses, including Ebola.

—Watertown, MA-based antibiotic developer Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals—a Harvard spinoff—announced a $15 million second close of its $25 million Series A financing. Mediphase Venture Partners, CMEA Ventures, Fidelity Biosciences, Flagship Ventures, and Skyline Ventures participated in the deal.

—Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) launched a pivotal clinical trial with its partner, Carlsbad, CA-based Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS), of the cholesterol-lowering drug mipomersen.

—Luke profiled the efforts of Thousand Oaks, CA-based Amgen to make clinical trials less of a crapshoot, drawing on the expertise of the molecular biologists in its Cambridge, MA, outpost and the clinical immunology and computational biology specialists in its Seattle offices.

—Newton, MA-based medical software maker PatientKeeper raised $7.5 million in a Series F round of financing from Frazier Healthcare Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.

—Stromedix of Cambridge, MA, won orphan-drug status for its treatment for chronic allograft nephropathy, a leading cause of kidney-transplant failure. The drug is the lead candidate for the startup, which is aiming to commercialize anti-fibrosis technology licensed from Biogen Idec.