New England’s life sciences companies and investors are wasting no time this new year. We saw headlines of financings, clinical trial results, acquisitions, and executive moves at biotech and pharma companies this week.
—Genocea Biosciences of Cambridge, MA, wrapped up $35 million in Series B financing from new investors Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, MP Healthcare Venture Management, and Skyline Ventures. Previous Genocea backers Auriga Partners, Cycad Group, Lux Capital Management, Morningside Ventures, Polaris Venture Partners, and SR One also participated in the deal for the vaccine discovery and development firm.
—Year-old biotech venture firm Longwood Founders Management announced it had raised its first fund, with help from Cambridge-based Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), which employs two of the fund’s founders, Christoph Westphal and Michelle Dipp. The fund raise totaled to $86.9 million, according to an SEC filing. Ryan caught up with the other founder, biotech investor Rich Aldrich, for a look at Longwood’s strategy.
—Boston-based Relay Technology Management is ready to launch its search and analytics engine for biotech business development groups early this year, Ryan wrote. The startup was formed by a duo of Tufts University researchers in 2008.
—George Cotsarelis, co-founder of baldness treatment developer Follica, was part of a team that released research this week showing that men with pattern baldness have plenty of hair follicle stem cells in their scalps. Follica CEO William Ju said the findings fit with the rationale behind the experimental drug and device under development at the mostly virtual biotech firm, which was founded and incubated at PureTech Ventures in Boston.
—Cambridge weight loss drug developer Zafgen announced that its experimental treatment for severe obesity was well-tolerated and helped patients lose about 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight per week in its first human study, which lasted one month. The biotech still has more to prove—obesity drugs must show sustained benefits for at least a year—but the first 24 people tested saw better weight loss effects than those with placebo.
—Ryan previewed our upcoming Xconomy Xchange: HHS CTO Todd Park and Friends on the Future of Health IT. Park, who co-founded Watertown, MA-based Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN) before working in Washington, will dish on how the government can help innovate in the health IT space.
—Medical device maker Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX) of Natick, MA, announced it had bought Intelect Medical, a maker of neuromodulation technologies for deep brain stimulation, for about $60 million in cash. Boston Scientific, which already had an equity stake in the company, said it will complement its existing technology to help physicians better visualize brain stimulation fields.
—Weston, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) enlisted former ZymoGenetics CEO Doug Williams to lead its R&D group. It also brought on a new vice president of corporate development: Steve Holtzman, the former chief executive of Cambridge-based Infinity Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INFI). Both new hires will report to George Scangos, who joined Biogen as CEO in summer of 2010.