Quanterix Partners With Novartis, Athenahealth and Microsoft Sync Up, Vertex Nails Clinical Trial, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

Cambridge, MA-based Quanterix partnered up with Novartis Diagnostics, the unit of healthcare giant Novartis that tests the safety of 80 percent of the U.S. blood supply. Novartis will run tests to see how effective Quanterix’s device is at pinpointing a protein biomarker in the blood that is linked to an undisclosed neurological disorder. Terms of the arrangement weren’t disclosed.

—New York pharmaceutical company Forest Laboratories (NYSE: FRX) paid $1.2 billion ($30 per share) upfront to acquire Newton, MA-based Clinical Data (NASDAQ: CLDA), a drug developer that won FDA approval last month for its anti-depressant. Forest could pay another $6 per share to Clinical Data shareholders if the drug, vilazodone, hits certain sales goals over the next seven years.

—Watertown, MA-based Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN) formed an alliance with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to make the companies’ systems more compatible and easier for healthcare professionals to use together to get a single view of patient records for hospital and outpatient visits.

—Cambridge-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTXannounced it had passed a pivotal clinical trial of 161 cystic fibrosis patients who were randomly assigned to the company’s VX-770 pill or  a placebo. Those who received the Vertex drug showed a 17 percent relative improvement in their ability to force out air from their lungs in one second (a measure of lung function). Vertex’s stock shot up 15 percent the morning of the news, to hit $44.03 per share at 10:14am.

—Greg took a look at iAMscientist, a Brookline, MA-based startup developing a global community and resource site for researchers and institutions in science, technology, and medicine. The company has raised $1 million in seed funding from a group that includes famed Harvard chemist George Whitesides, and more than a dozen companies, such as Genzyme.

—Cambridge-based Metamark Genetics is moving out of stealth mode, wrote my colleague Ryan, who caught up with the company’s relatively new CEO Mark Straley. The startup—which was founded by top scientists at Harvard and elsewhere—is out to release a molecular test to provide prognostic information that will help physicians make better treatment decisions.

—Waltham, MA-based lab instruments and services provider Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO) announced it had sold off its Athena Diagnostics and Lancaster Laboratories units for a total of $940 million in cash, to boost shareholder value. Madison, NJ-based lab testing firm Quest Diagnostics is paying $740 million for Athena, and Eurofins Scientific of Brussels, Belgium, will shell out $200 million to acquire Lancaster, a provider of contract testing and analysis services to pharmaceutical companies.

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