Life sciences briefing: Monday, Sept. 24, 2007

Featured companies: Adnexus Therapeutics, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cellerix, Elixir Therapeutics, GenomeQuest, Intronn, JapanBridge, JenaValve, VirXsys, Ysios Capital

[NOTE: This item is a catchup daily briefing originally posted on 9/27/07. I've edited the item's timestamp to preserve the chronological order of the briefings. --D.P.H.]Adnexus Thera cancels IPO, sells itself to Bristol-Myers for $430M — Waltham, Mass.-based Adnexus Therapeutics, a biotech pursuing drugs against cancer and other diseases, said it would cancel plans for its IPO and instead sell itself to Bristol-Myers Squibb for $430 million in cash, or a net purchase price of $415 million once adjusted for the biotech’s cash balance. Adnexus shareholders may also receive another $75 million assuming particular developmental milestones are met.

You can find our earlier coverage of Adnexus, which filed for its IPO just last month, here and here. Adnexus is the second biotech I’m aware of that’s recent chosen an acquisition offer over facing vicissitudes of the biotech IPO market. (The other was NovaCardia; you can find our coverage here.)

elixir_logo.jpgElixir Pharmaceuticals seeks $86.3M IPO — Elixir Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge, Mass., biotech focused on anti-aging, obesity and metabolic diseases, filed to raise as much as $86.3 million in an IPO. Elixir is best-known for its work with sirtuins, a class of chemicals that appear to mimic the anti-aging effects of calorie-restricted diets. A similar company founded by a competing set of researchers, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, raised $60 million in an IPO last May. (See our coverage here.)

Neither company, however, emphasizes its work with the potentially anti-aging molecules, and instead play up their interest in treating a cluster of diseases such as diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders. Elixir’s two leading candidates on that front treat diabetes, and were licensed from Japan’s Kissei Pharmaceutical.

Interestingly enough, Elixir’s SEC filing also lists “healthcare reform measures” as a risk that could “hinder or prevent” the company’s success. For what it’s worth, Elixir also thinks patent reform poses a threat.

cellerix-logo.jpg“Adult” stem-cell company Cellerix raises €27.2M — Spain’s Cellerix, a company aiming to use so-called adult stem cells as a treatment for skin regeneration and autoimmune-related defects known as fistulas, raised €27.2 million ($32 million). Investors included Life Sciences Partners, Ventech, Ysios Capital Partners, Roche Venture Fund, Novartis Venture Fund, Genetrix, Grupo A&G, Spanish investor Jose Antonio Matji and Cellerix management.

Celletrix was spun out of the Spanish biotech company Genetrix, which remains its majority shareholder. Celletrix has two products in clinical tests. One uses stem cells derived from the patient’s own fatty tissue to treat fistulas, which are abnormal connections between organs and skin or between different organs. The other treats a blistering skin condition known as epidermolysis bullosa using a combination of cells — although apparently not stem cells — from the patient and a universal donor.

ysios-logo.jpgYsios Capital seeks €65M for life-science fund — Spanish venture-capital firm Ysios Capital Partners is looking to raise €65 million ($91 million) for its first life-sciences fund. (Their PDF release is here.)

The firm envisions making investments of between €500,000 and €4 million in early-to-late-stage companies in biotech, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and medical technology. Ysios plans to make the majority of its investments in Spanish companies, but expects it may devote up to 30 percent of the fund outside of Spain.

jenavalve-main.jpgHeart-device maker JenaValve pulls in an extra €10M — Munich-based JenaValve, makers of a minimally invasive replacement for aortic heart valves, raised an additional €10 million ($14 million) in order to win European approval of the device, VentureWire reports. Investors included Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners, NewMed Management and Atlas Venture.

The company said it hopes to begin marketing the device by mid-2009, after which it may seek U.S. approval as well. Prior to that, however, JenaValve is likely to seek potential acquirers, the company’s chief financial officer told VentureWire.

JapanBridge raises $6.5M for in-licensed cancer drugs — Tokyo’s JapanBridge, a specialty pharmaceutical company founded last year by Itochu and MPM Capital, raised $6.5 million in an additional first funding round. Investors included MPM Capital, Itochu and Kyowa Hakko.

The funding is intended for building its infrastructure and identifying two to four cancer drugs for in-licensing to Japan. Separately, JapanBridge said it struck a partnership with Kyowa Hakko to collaborate on cancer-drug development.

Genetic-search company GenomeQuest raises $4M — GenomeQuest, a Westborough, Mass., developer of a Web-based genetic search engine, raised $4 million in a second funding round. Investors included Mosaix Ventures, Cross Atlantic Partners, Milestone Venture Partners, and Société Générale Asset Management Alternative Investments.

GenomeQuest describes its service as a Web-based system that makes it possible for corporate researchers to search for genetic and biological information across a variety of public and private databases. In that sense, it sounds generally similar to the service offering by NextBio, which raised $7 million in June. See our previous coverage of that company here.

Gene-therapy company VirXsys acquires Intronn’s assets — Gaithersburg, Md.-based VirXsys, a gene-therapy company hoping to treat AIDS and genetic disease, acquired the core assets and preclinical programs of fellow Gaithersburg biotech Intronn. Terms of the all-stock deal weren’t disclosed. Intronn’s technology aims to reprogram gene expression by inserting genetic code at the RNA level to repair mutations or repair other damage.