Adimab Inks Novartis Deal, GSK-Founded Tempero Pursues Hot Immunology Field, Metamark Gets $22M, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Boston — 

This week we ran several meaty profiles spotlighting strategies of New England biotech companies powered by some big life sciences players.

—Lebanon, NH-based Adimab struck a research deal with Novartis, in which the startup will use its technology to discover antibodies that could potentially be used in drugs against two undisclosed diseases that Novartis chooses to target. Financial details of the deal weren’t released, but the announcement adds to Adimab’s arsenal of big drugmaker partners, which also include Merck, Roche, and Pfizer.

—Ryan took a look at Lexington, MA-based Synta’s moves to regain its footing after it halted a clinical trial for its drug for treating skin cancer in 2009, causing its stock value to fall more than 80 percent in a day. The company’s CEO sees promise in its mid-stage cancer drug, STA-9090, as well as the several years’ worth of cash it still has in the bank, Ryan wrote.

—Sylvia used her column this week to spotlight her conversation with Jeffrey Shuren, who leads the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, and discussed subjects such as the agency’s moves to balance medical device safety with efficacy and a controversial new approval program.

—Life sciences entrepreneur and Boston University engineering professor Franco Cerrina was found dead in a lab at the school’s Photonics Center on Monday morning. The cause of death is not known, though police are not treating it as a criminal matter, according to the university. Cerrina co-founded five companies, including NimbleGen Systems, a Madison, WI-based developer of DNA microarray technology that sold to Swiss drug giant Roche for $272.5 million in 2007.

—Metamark Genetics, a Naples, FL-based startup in the process of relocating to Cambridge, grabbed a $22 million Series B funding round. The company is developing diagnostics to identify genetic markers and other indicators of tumor progression, using technology from the research lab of Harvard Medical School dermatology professor Lynda Chin.

Concert Pharmaceuticals, a developer of technology to make drugs safer and longer lasting, inked a deal last year with GlaxoSmithKline that could have a payoff in the neighborhood of $1 billion. CEO Roger Tung talked to Ryan about how the company is exploring new ways to generate human data on its compounds, to nab as much of the potential $1 billion as possible.

—Ryan wrote about Tempero Pharmaceuticals, a biotech startup founded and funded by GlaxoSmithKline, and its work in a new slice of immunology research that’s exploring the forces behind autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. The company’s roster includes three top Harvard immunology experts as scientific co-founders, as well as Alnylam Pharmaceuticals CEO John Maraganore and life sciences investor Rich Aldrich as independent directors.