AlloCure Arrives in New England, Merck Shutters Cambridge Research Site, Infinity Cuts Deal With Intellikine, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Boston — 

It was a shorter week, but we had a heavy volume of headlines on acquisitions, partnerships, job cuts, and company strategies for New England-area biotech names.

—Cambridge’s Alnara Pharmaceuticals kicked off the holiday weekend last Friday with news that it been acquired by Indianapolis-based pharma giant Eli Lilly. The companies didn’t disclose the purchase price of the acquisition, which will give Lilly access to Alnara’s cystic fibrosis treatment, the enzyme supplement liprotamase, whose FDA approval Alnara has recently applied for. Ryan did a story this week looking at the process leading up to the buyout of Alnara, which included heavy reliance on contract employees and lean development budgets.

—Luke wrote about a transplant to New England’s biotech scene: AlloCure, a developer of adult stem cell therapy for kidney disease that has moved its headquarters from Salt Lake City to Burlington, MA. The startup has added a new CEO in the process, AMAG Pharmaceuticals and Amgen veteran Robert Brenner. Allocure is aiming to grow standardized stem cells that don’t need to be genetically matched with patients, which hospitals can keep in stock to treat patients with when they first notice the signs of kidney failure.

—Ryan profiled On-Q-ity, a Waltham, MA-based diagnostics company that’s out to track tumor cells in patients’ blood that evade traditional detection. The startup is led by the former president of Genzyme’s genetic testing unit, Mara Aspinall. On-Q-ity is developing biomarkers that can determine if cancer cells are resistant to certain therapies, helping to guide and monitor treatment courses for patients.

–Woburn, MA-based Bio2 Technologies, a developer of tissue engineering scaffolds for the orthopedic market, pulled in $1.1 million of an equity offering that could total $2 million, according to an SEC filing. The company has licensed a technology to improve a material’s porous properties, called “cross linked microstructure” from Woburn’s Geo2 Technologies, which is using the technology in the auto industry.

Excelimmune, a Woburn-based developer of human recombinant polyclonal antibody-based drugs has raised half of a planned $9 million equity round of funding. The company attracted $1 million in Series B money in February.

—Cambridge-based Infinity Pharmaceuticals struck a deal with San Diego’s Intellikine, to develop and commercialize drugs that target the overactive PI3 kinase pathways present in patients with cancer and autoimmune diseases. Infinity (NASDAQ: INFI) will pay the San Diego company $13.5 million upfront, up to $25 million in milestone payments for two drug candidates, and possibly another $450 million if the drugs nab regulatory approval and hit the market.

—New Jersey-based Merck announced plans to shutter its research site in Cambridge’s Kendall Square section. The move comes as part of Merck’s restructuring plan following its November merger with Schering-Plough. The drug giant will also close another seven research facilities and eight manufacturing plants worldwide.

—French drug giant Sanofi-Aventis is expanding its Cambridge presence, with a new cancer research division, the Boston Globe reported. The firm, which has a presence in Kendall Square, is looking to invest about $65 million to also set up shop in the Cambridgeport neighborhood, adding about 300 jobs to the area.