Tokai Gets $23M, Eleven Therapeutics Hires New CEO, Ariad Drug Advances, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Boston — 

This week’s New England life sciences news was dominated by area drugmakers.

Healthcare companies accounted for more than 75 percent of the $156.5 million brought in by Massachusetts startup companies in August, according to CB Insights FundingFlash. The overall monthly funding total has been shrinking since June, though.

–Cambridge, MA-based prostate cancer drug developer Tokai Pharmaceuticals wrapped up $23 million in Series D financing, bringing its total funding pot to $57 million. The new money comes from existing Tokai backers Novartis Venture Fund, Apple Tree Partners, and angel investors, and will go to Tokai’s drug galeterone (TOK-001), as it moves into the second of three phases of trials required for FDA approval.

—Eleven Biotherapeutics, a Cambridge-based developer of protein drugs, announced it was bringing on biotech veteran Abbie Celniker as its new CEO. Celniker, who has held roles at Novartis, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth, Genentech, and most recently, Taligen Therapeutics, says she expects Eleven to enter its first clinical trial by the second half of 2012, for a drug candidate that’s being developed as a treatment for dry eye and other topical inflammatory conditions like allergies or pink eye (conjunctivitis).

—Cambridge-based Ariad Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARIA) moved into a human clinical trial with its third cancer drug, AP26113, a treatment for patients with solid tumors, particularly non-small cell lung cancer. The initial phase of the trial, which is designed to help Ariad determine dosage and tolerability of the drug, will involve 30 to 50 patients.

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