Vertex Awaits Results of Hepatitis C Drug Trial, Helicos and Pfizer Cut Jobs, St. Jude Acquires LightLab, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Boston — 

Looks like life sciences companies reclaimed their territory in our headlines this week. We saw news of funding deals, acquisitions, and layoffs, and profiles on drugmakers and device developers.

—Rockland, MA-based BioSphere Medical (NASDAQ: BSMD), which makes bio-engineered microspheres to be injected to cut off the blood supply to tumors, vascular malformations, and uterine fibroids, announced it will be acquired by Merit Medical Systems (NASDAQ: MMSI) for $96 million in cash .

Luke wrote about the gravity surrounding Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ clinical trial for its hepatitis C drug, telaprevir. Vertex (NASDAQ: VRTX) is waiting for results from Phase III of the study, the final stage of testing required before the drug gets approved by the FDA for sale in the U.S. Telaprevir could be a first-in-class protease inhibitor drug, and has shown that it can double the cure rate and cut the standard course of treatment in half for the chronic liver-damaging disease.

—Stemgent, a provider of consumable stem cell research materials that has offices in Cambridge, MA, and San Diego, has raised $5.6 million of a planned $10.1 million equity round, according to an SEC filing.

Cambridge Endoscopic Devices, a Framingham, MA-based maker of laparoscopic instruments for minimally invasive procedures, pulled in $3 million of a $7.5 million round of equity-based funding, a regulatory document showed.

—Cambridge-based genetic analysis technology developer Helicos BioSciences announced cutting 40 jobs, halving its work force in order to reduce operating expenses. Helicos (NASDAQ: HLCS) had $11.3 million in the bank as of March 31, but needs to raise “significant additional capital” before the end of June to fund its operations for another year, it revealed in a quarterly financial statement filed this week.

Pfizer announced it would be cutting 300 manufacturing jobs at its Andover, MA-based site by the end of 2015, as part of a restructuring plan following the drugmaker’s acquisition of Wyeth (NYSE: WYE) last year. The company is shutting down eight sites and downsizing at six other sites, to eliminate a total of 6,000 jobs.

—Ryan took a look at Zeo, a Newton, MA-based maker of a sleep tracker that has garnered the praises of celebrity talk show host Regis Philbin. This month the startup, founded in 2003 by three Brown University students, first aired infomercials for its product, which uses a headband to pick up electrical signals in users’ brains and muscle movements, and sends the data to a device that graphs sleep patterns and can wake users at an optimal time.

—Darien, CT-based biopharmaceutical development firm Cytogel Pharma raised $2.2 million in a mixed offering of equity and rights, an SEC filing revealed.

Arsenal Medical, a Watertown, MA-based stealth mode biotech startup, pulled in $10 million in a second tranche of its Series C financing, bringing the round’s total to $18.2 million. The company was founded by some top names in biotech, including Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) co-founder George Whitesides and Bob Langer, the MIT inventor known for his advances in drug-delivery technology, and is quietly developing bioactive materials.

—It was a big news week for Bob Langer, who also co-founded Seventh Sense Biosystems, a Cambridge diagnostics company that’s developing a device to collect blood samples less painfully. Ryan caught up with the CEO of the startup, whose technology could be useful in monitoring drug dosage levels or spotting infection.

St. Jude Medical bought LightLab Imaging, a Westford, MA-based coronary imaging technology developer, for $90 million in cash. St. Jude (NYSE: STJ), the St. Paul, MN-based cardiac devices giant, expects to add $20 million to its revenues in the second half of the year with the acquisition of LightLab, a company making a diagnostic catheter system that uses infrared light to capture images of tissue, which the FDA cleared this month for sales in the U.S.