Langer Nabs Cash From Rock Stars, Verastem Seeks $50M IPO, Alnylam Snags RNAi Collab, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Boston — 

We’ve seen life sciences headlines from a mix of established drugmakers and universities in New England this week.

—Waltham, MA-based Repligen is picking up a unit of the Danish industrial-biotech products maker Novozymes A/S for about $22.7 million in cash. Repligen (NASDAQ: RGEN) could also pay another roughly $5.6 million to the unit, Novozymes Biopharma Sweden, which makes proteins used in the large-scale production of biotech drugs.

—Drug developer Alnylam Pharmaceuticals inked a partnership deal with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) surrounding its RNA interference technology for improving vaccine production. The technology, called VaxiRNA, uses small molecules to silent specific genes that limit the efficient growth of viruses in vaccine manufacturing systems. The exact value of the deal wasn’t disclosed, but Alnylam (NASDAQ: ALNY) will receive funding, potential milestones, and payments on product sales if the technology leads to an approved product.

—The Who’s Roger Daltrey, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, and actress Julie Andrews are funding an effort by MIT professor Bob Langer and Harvard University surgeon Steven Zeitels to develop a vibrating gel that would revive damaged vocal cords. It could treat both singers and throat cancer patients, and is scheduled to enter its first clinical trial in 2012.

—Verastem, a 15-month-old startup with no drugs yet in clinical trials, filed for an initial public offering. The Cambridge-based company—led by CEO Christoph Westphal and founded on science from MIT’s Bob Weinberg and Eric Lander—is developing treatments focused on cancer stem cells, sometimes known as “tumor-initiating” cells. It raised $32 million this July and is targeting $50 million more with the IPO.