Life sciences briefing: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007

Featured companies: Ablynx, Cardiosolutions, Carigent Thereapeutics, Elusys, Genome Corp., GlobeImmune, Novazone, Targanta Therapeutics, Waterfront Media

UPDATED at 5:45am on 9/27/07GlobeImmune raises $41M for immune-system therapies — GlobeImmune, a Louisville, Colo., biotech focused on new forms of immunotherapy to treat viral infections and cancer, raised $41.2 million in a third funding round. Investors included Wexford Capital, Celgene, the Mellon Family Investment Company, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Eminent Venture Capital, Boston Life Science Venture, WRF Capital, HealthCare Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures, Sequel Venture Partners, Lilly Ventures, Medica Venture Partners, Adams Street Partners, Biogen Idec, Pac-Link Bioventures, China Investment and Development, Yasuda Enterprise Development, Partners Healthcare, and GC&H Investments.

GlobeImmune’s experimental drugs are based on genetically engineered yeast cells, which have been altered to produce proteins that stimulate the immune system to attack diseased cells. The company’s lead product targets hepatitis C, and has completed early-stage human trials. Another drug is intended for use in pancreatic cancer.

waterfront-media-logo.jpgWaterfront Media pulls in $25M for online health info — New York’s Waterfront Media, which bills itself as the largest privately held provider of online health information, raised $25 million in a fourth round of funding. Investors included Scale Venture Partners, Foundation Capital, Rho Ventures, Time Warner Ventures, BEV Capital, and Neocarta Ventures.

Waterfront said it will use the funds to expand its Everyday Health Network, a health-information portal, and to make acquisitions in the goal of becoming the “number one health destination” on the Web.

novazone-logo.jpgNovazone seeks $20M for food-safety tech — Novazone, a Livermore, Calif., developer of food-safety technology, is looking to raise $20 million in a third funding round, VentureWire reports (subscription required). Novazone is developing an ozone-based disinfectant for food and water purification. The company previously raised $7 million in 2006 from Chrysalix Energy, Foundation Capital and Grauer Capital.

cardiosolutions-logo.jpgCardiosolutions raises $7M for heart device — Stoughton, Mass.-based Cardiosolutions, a medical-device maker focused on minimally invasive repairs to the heart’s mitral valve, raised $7 million in a first funding round. BioVentures Investors led the round.

The company’s device is intended to restore function to the valve that separates the two left chambers of the heart without open-heart surgery. Cardiosolutions was founded in 2006 by STD Med, a Stoughton-based medical-technology firm.

elusys-logo.jpgElusys wins $12M contract for anthrax treatment — Pine Brook, N.J.-based Elusys, a biotech focused on antibody-based treatments for infectious disease, won a $12 million federal contract that will support development of its anthrax treatment Anthim. That treatment targets the so-called “protective antigen” component of anthrax, theoretically blocking the bacteria’s ability to produce fatal levels of toxin.

ablynx-logo.gifAblynx wins €1.9M grant for miniature antibodies — Belgium’s Ablynx, a biotech working to devise new therapies using miniature antibody molecules, received a €1.9 million ($2.6 million) grant from the Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders. The company said the funding would allow it to pursue new uses for its “nanobodies” and to expand its intellectual-property portfolio.

Genome Corp. raises $250K for new sequencing technology — Providence, R.I.-based Genome Corp. raised $250,000 in seed financing to extend development of a new high-speed DNA sequencing technology. The Slater Technology Fund provided the financing.

carigent-tx-logo.jpgNanotech-drug developer Carigent Therapeutics raises seed funding — Yale spinout Carigent Therapeutics, a New Haven, Conn., biotech working on a nanoparticle-based drug technology, raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding, VentureWire reports. Saint Simeon Marketing e Investimentos provided the funding in May.

The idea is that engineered nanoparticles can specifically target particular proteins, theoretically making them ideal “carriers” for other drug molecules that attack cancer, infectious pathogens or other other disease-related substances. The company has also secured $250,000 in grants from the National Cancer Institute and the National Science Foundation, and plans to target cancer with its first product, it told VentureWire.

targanta_logo-1.jpgAntibiotic maker Targanta sets IPO price range — Cambridge, Mass.-based antibiotic developer Targanta Therapeutics said it now hopes to raise up to $92.6 million in an IPO by selling shares at a price of $12 to $14 apiece. Targanta has previously expected to pull in $86.3 million; I wrote about some of the risks inherent in the company’s plans to win FDA approval for an in-licenced antibiotic called oritavancin that it hasn’t even tested itself here.

So far, Targanta seems to have managed to assure investors that it can overcome those challenges, which include some potentially strong competition from a variety of sources. Its offering will still serve as a good test of the strength of the biotech IPO market, which has been iffy for well over a year.