Life sciences briefing: Thursday, Aug. 23, 2007

(UPDATED at 6:30am PT on Friday: See below.)

Featured companies: DNA2.0, Globus Medical, Inotek Pharmaceuticals, Operon Biotechnologies, PleuraFlowGlobus Medical raises $110M for spinal implants — Globus Medical, an Audubon, Pa., developer of spinal implants, raised $110 million in a fifth financing round. Investors included Clarus Ventures, AIG SunAmerica and other large, institutional private-equity funds.

Some have called this the largest venture-capital funding of the year — by a grand total of $1.65. That’s one dollar and sixty-five cents. No lie. That seems to present a definitional problem of sorts, because there is only one named venture-capital firm in the deal, Clarus Ventures, which is all of two years old and has a grand total of nine companies in its portfolio. In addition, AIG SunAmerica is a veritable smorgasbord of financial services, none of which seem to include venture capital, and Globus itself says the rest of its funding comes from private equity.

Previous financings at Globus consisted of debt and four angel rounds, VentureWire reports (subscription required). Prior to the latest funding, the company had raised $18 million in equity from angel investors and $25 million in debt from Silicon Valley Bank and Bank of America. The company plans to retire that debt this year.

Globus, which was founded in 2003, said the funds would fund clinical trials of “multiple innovative technologies under development.” The company claims to be one of the world’s ten largest manufacturers of spinal implants, with more than $120 million in “annualized” revenues. According to VentureWire, Globus revenues last year amounted to $82 million, a figure that may grow to $120 million this year.

The company also recently settled six lawsuits with Synthes, agreeing to pay $13.5 million to the Swiss medical-device maker and to refrain from soliciting or hiring Synthes employees for a full year. Synthes had sued Globus, which was founded by former Synthes employees, accusing it of misappropriating trade secrets. There’s more detail at the Philadelphia Business Journal and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

UPDATE: Tom Salemi at the In Vivo blog has more on what the deal means for Globus in the spinal-device market. For what it’s worth, he doesn’t think this funding should be considered a venture-capital deal, either.

inotek-logo.jpgInotek receives $19M for cancer drugs — Beverly, Mass.-based Inotek Pharmaceuticals, a biotech that aims to tackle cancer, heart disease and inflammation, raised $19.3 million in a third funding round. Investors included Hercules Technology Growth Capital, Meditor Capital Management, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, Care Capital, La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, MedImmune Ventures, Pitango Venture Capital, and Rho Ventures.

Inotek’s lead drug candidate targets an enzyme in the cellular nucleus that helps repair DNA damage. Disabling that enzyme could make it easier to kill tumor cells.

dna20-logo.jpgDNA2.0 strikes artificial-DNA co-marketing deal with Operon – DNA2.0, a Menlo Park, Calif., biotech that bills itself as the largest U.S. provider of synthetic genes, struck an agreement with Huntsville, Ala.-based Operon Biotechnologies under which Operon will co-market DNA2.0′s gene-synthesis services. Meanwhile, it also appears that Operaon will share its nucleic-acid synthesis technology with DNA2.0 to improve DNA2.0′s “speed of synthesis.”

This deal probably isn’t all that huge in and of itself, but DNA-synthesis services are likely to grow in prominence as bioengineers become ever-more versed in techniques for modifying natural genes or even creating new genes from scratch. That’s what the emerging field of “synthetic biology” is all about, and it’s definitely worth watching.

PleuraFlow raises almost $1M for drainage device — PleuraFlow, a Bend, Ore., device startup, raised slightly under $1 million in seed financing, VentureWire reports (subscription required). Investors included the angel group BVC Investor, affiliated with the Bend Venture Conference, and the Cleveland Clinic. PleuraFlow is developing a device to improve pleural and pericardial drainage following heart surgery. The company doesn’t have a Web site.

UPDATE (7:05pm PT): Added items on Globus Medical and Inotek.

UPDATE REDUX (6:30am PT Friday): Expanded Globus item.