Curis Misses Mark in Cancer Drug Trial, Genzyme Re-Elects Full Board, GTC Cuts Jobs, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Boston — 

This week we saw news from Genzyme’s much-awaited annual meeting, in addition to funding news and profiles of startups with Boston roots and West Coast backing.

—Nonprofit organization Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology held its third annual Leadership Awards celebration. Three of the four award winners were from life sciences companies: On-Q-ity CEO Mara Aspinall, Avila Therapeutics CEO Katrine Bosley, and Elemè Medical CEO Nancy Briefs.

—Cambridge, MA-based BioScale, a maker of tools for protein analysis, said it grabbed $25 million in a funding round led by China-based Morningside Venture. The money, some of which also comes from individual investors, New Science Ventures, WFD Ventures, and F2 Ventures, will go to sales and manufacturing of BioScale’s research products.

—Newton, MA-based Clinical Data (NASDAQ: CLDA) reported netting about $30 million in a sale of 2.24 million shares of its common stock. The FDA recently agreed to consider the company’s application for approval of its first drug, depression treatment vilazodone.

—Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) re-elected its entire board of directors at its annual meeting. Ryan observed that it was a relatively calm session, considering the Cambridge-based biotech giant’s tumultuous year of proxy battles with activist investor Carl Icahn and fallout from manufacturing problems at its Allston, MA, site. The company will add two of Icahn’s associates to the board, as well as an Amgen veteran, bringing the total number of seats from 10 to 13. Earlier in the week, Genzyme announced its plans to sell $1 billion in corporate debt to help finance a $2 billion stock buyback designed to boost its share price.

FoldRx Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge-based developer of drugs targeting diseases caused by misfolded proteins, announced it had raised $29 million in a round of bridge financing from a mix of new and existing investors. In the second half of this year, the company plans to apply for FDA approval of its drug for TTR amyloid polyneuropathy, a rare neurological disease that affects 5,000 to 10,000 people and causes patients to lose control of movement in their arms and legs.

—Lexington, MA-based Predictive Biosciences pulled in $25 million in Series C money, leaving the biotech startup with enough cash to start selling its test for bladder cancer and to continue researching and developing its diagnostic products. The company is a spinout of Children’s Hospital Boston and is developing diagnostic tests that are less invasive than existing methods.

GTC Biotherapeutics, a Framingham, MA-based drugmaker, has eliminated 50 jobs and will be replacing its CEO, in connection with a $7 million debt financing. Former Elixir Pharmaceuticals CEO William Heiden will be replacing Geoffrey Cox as CEO of GTC, which last year won FDA approval for the first drug manufactured in genetically modified animals.

—An experimental cancer drug from Cambridge-based Curis (NASDAQ: CURIS) missed its target in a clinical trial run by Roche and its U.S.-based Genetech unit. The small-molecule drug, GDC-0449, failed to stop the spread of tumors or help people live longer in a study of 199 patients with colorectal cancer. The trial combined the Curis treatment with chemotherapy and Roche’s bevacizumab (Avastin)

—Norwood, MA-based Boston Biomedical, a company developing a drug that targets stem-like properties of certain cancer cells, raised $2 million in an equity offering, an SEC filing revealed.

—Cambridge-based Daktari Diagnostics added another $820,000 to its Series A pot, bringing the company’s first round to $3.7 million. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, based in Seattle, has also pumped $600,000 into the startup, which is developing an inexpensive diagnostics system that can be used in developing countries lacking access to laboratories. PATH, a global health organization based in Seattle, is also funding the first clinical trial for Daktari, whose handheld device counts so-called CD4 cells in the blood, an indicator of HIV patients’ immune system health.

—Luke took a look at San Francisco-based iPierian, a startup out to use stem-cell technology for drug discovery. The company started from the fusion of two other ventures: Boston-based Pierian, co-founded by a trio of scientists from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and iZumi Bio, a Mountain View, CA-based company with some heavy-hitting entrepreneurs and stem-cell pioneers.