RXi Sells Stock and Warrants, Cardiorobotics Raises $6.6M, ImmunoGen Dishes On New Drugs, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Boston — 

This week we’ve seen news of financings for device makers and drug developers, as well as reports from clinical trials from New England area life sciences firms and their rivals.

—Daniel Junius, CEO of Waltham, MA-headquartered ImmunoGen, talked to Ryan about the antibody-based drugs the company is developing that aren’t generating as much noise as the ImmunoGen technology used by Genentech to create a more powerful breast cancer drug. ImmunoGen is working on two new treatments that each link an antibody with anti-cancer toxins, for treating non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, and breast, lung, and ovarian tumors.

—The FDA did not grant approval to a drug produced by Israel-based Protalix Biotherapeutics that rivals Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme’s treatment for Gaucher’s disease. Regulators raised questions about clinical matters, chemistry, manufacturing, and controls related to taliglucerase alfa, developed by Protalix in partnership with Pfizer.

—Speaking of rivals to Boston biotechs, Germany-based Merck KGaA failed to garner FDA approval for its experimental MS pill cladribine because the regulators wanted more safety data on the drug. The news comes as Weston, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) is testing its own oral MS treatment, dimethyl fumarate (BG-12).

—Marlborough, MA-based med device developer CardioFocus raised $30.6 million in financing from new investors First Alliance & Capital Invest, Fletcher Spaght Ventures, and Manatuck Hill Parnters, as well as all previous investors. The firm is developing a system for laser ablation procedures used in treating an irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation.

—Cambridge drug developer NeuroPhage Pharmaceuticals said it raised $12.4 million in a Series B financing led by Mérieux Développement, the healthcare investment arm of French firm Institut Mérieux, with backing from Irish biopharma company Shire (NASDAQ: SHPGY). The deal represents the firm’s first institutional financing; the cash will go toward funding NeuroPhage’s clinical trials of its lead drug candidate NPT001, a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

—RXi Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: RXII), a Worcester, MA-based developer of RNA interference treatments, announced it priced a public offering of common stock and warrants, expecting to raise a total of $8.1 million. The net proceeds of $7.3 million will be used for general corporate purposes.

—Raynham, MA-based Cardiorobotics, a maker of a robotic catheter for heart procedures, raised $6.6 million of a $12.5 million round of equity- and rights-based funding.

—Boston-based Sproxil, a provider of a text message-based service for targeting medicine counterfeiting abroad, snapped up $1.8 million in funding from one investor, an SEC filing showed.

—Biotechs working on treatments for rare diseases are hopeful that Sanofi-Aventis’ $20.1 billion acquisition of Genzyme will bring attention to their field, Ryan wrote.

—A once-weekly injection of the Type 2 diabetes drug exenatide being developed by Waltham, MA-based Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS), San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAW: AMLN), and Indianapolis drugmaker Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY), didn’t stand up against an existing treatment in a head-to-head study. Patients on the weekly exenatide formulation, Bydureon, had only a 1.3 percent decrease in a blood marker called A1C compared with a 1.5 percent decrease among patients who took Novo Nordisk’s liraglutide (Victoza).

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