Life sciences briefing: Thursday, Jan. 17, 2007

TODAY’S HEADLINES:

TransEnterix gets $21M for minimally invasive GI surgery — TransEnterix (no Web site), a Research Triangle Park, N.C., device maker developing tools for “natural orifice” gastrointestinal surgery, raised $21 million in a first funding round. Investors included SV Life Sciences, Parish Capital Advisers and Synergy Life Science Partners.

According to the Web site for Synecor, a North Carolina incubator that founded TransEnterix, the company is at work on tools and devices for minimally invasive “trans-oral” surgery using an endoscope passed through the mouth and down the esophagus. This procedure is designed to enable surgeries through the stomach wall and other unspecified “natural entry points,” potentially in a way that could supplant minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures that require entry through the abdominal wall. Patients would be consciously sedated during the procedure.

The funding will allow TransEnterix to “deliver” its first-generation tools, presumably for use in clinical trials, and to fund development of next-generation devices.

bioheart-logo-150px.gifStem-cell developer Bioheart’s IPO postponed — Bioheart, a Sunrise, Fla., developer of a stem-cell-based heart therapy, has postponed its troubled IPO. Although the company doesn’t seem to have officially yanked it yet, odds are now good that it will.

Bioheart’s woes started last October, when it abruptly slashed its offering price and fired its underwriters. The company’s IPO has lingered on life support ever since. We gave readers some good reasons to be skeptical about Bioheart — which, notably, is backed by former football great Dan Marino, among others — as long ago as last July.

advancedmd-logo-150px.gifMedical-practice software provider AdvancedMD acquired by Francisco Partners — AdvancedMD, a Salt Lake City provider of Web-based medical-practice management software — now there’s a mouthful — announced that it was acquired by the private-equity firm Francisco Partners. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

AdvancedMD, founded in 1999, sells a series of Web-based products designed to handle administration, billing and electronic medical records for physicians. The company had previously raised venture funding from Dominion Ventures, Windward Ventures and Hunter Capital. Francisco has already named a new CEO, and said that it intends to “leverage” the company’s success with “additional resources” to accelerate its growth.

peptimmune-logo-150px.jpgPeptimmune draws $8.2M for MS drug trials — Cambridge, Mass.-based Peptimmune, a biotech at work on drugs for autoimmune and metabolic conditions, raised $8.2 million in the first stage of its fourth funding round. The company anticipates closing a second tranche in the second quarter. Investors included New Enterprise Associates, MPM Capital, Hunt Ventures, Boston Medical Investors and Silicon Valley Bank Capital.

Peptimmune is focused on using protein fragments known as peptides to disrupt or otherwise modulate immune-system reactions associated with disease. Its lead candidate, PI-2301, is a “random sequence” peptide similar in certain respects to the approved drug Copaxone, which Peptimmune is currently testing against multiple sclerosis in early-stage human tests.

alimera-logo.gifAlimera Sciences aims for autumn IPO to fund diabetic eye-disease drug — Alimera Sciences, an Alpharetta, Ga., biotech focused on eye disease, is contemplating an IPO this fall, VentureWire reports (subscription required). The funds will ideally support the launch of the company’s first innovative product, a treatment for a blinding complication of diabetes known as diabetic macular edema.

Alimera, which started life as a specialty pharma that resold over-the-counter eye products, began development of its current candidate, Medidur, in 2005. The treatment, co-developed with the nanotech company pSvidia, is a tiny structure designed to be injected into the back of the eye, where it steadily emits a corticosteroid called fluocinolone acetonide. The idea is to provide the smallest possible quantity of the steroid directly to the back of the eye, where a fluid buildup in the retina steadily obscures vision. Many ophthalmologists currently treat the condition with steroid injections, although no drugs are approved for the disease.

Medidur is currently in late-stage, phase III human tests. Alimera expects data from that trial in late 2009 and could file for approval in 2010.

blog comments powered by Disqus