Life sciences briefing: Friday, Feb. 8, 2008

TODAY’S HEADLINES:

aerovectrx-logo-150px.gifAerovectRx takes $1.2M, looks for $5M more for inhaled drugs – AerovectRx, a Norcross, Ga., developer of inhaled-drug delivery systems, is closing a $1.2 million seed round, VentureWire reports. Investors include Georgia Venture Partners, Emergent Growth Fund, Advanced Technology Development Center Seed Fund, and angels.

The startup is one of the latest companies to enter the perilous inhaled-drug territory, which recently claimed two high-profile inhaled-insulin products — Exubera, which Pfizer pulled from the market after dropping a huge sum on marketing, and Novo Nordisk’s AERx inhaler, which the company dropped in mid-development after Pfizer’s move. (This Bloomberg story has details.) Eli Lilly and MannKind continue to pursue inhaled insulin, and Lilly’s device is in the final stages of human testing.

AerovectRx is developing a device with a vibrating mesh intended to turn a drug preparation into an aerosol for inhalation. The company hasn’t said which drugs it aims to use with the device, although an official told VentureWire that the decision will partly depend on which corporate partners it can strike deals with. AerovectRx also plans to develop its own drugs for use with the device, and is looking into a half-dozen possibilities ranging from treatments for steroid-resistant asthma to lung cancer.

Pointe Conception, endoscopic camera maker, raises $800K – Pointe Conception, a Santa Barbara, Calif., developer of medical-camera products, has raised $800,000 of an anticipated $2 million second funding round, VentureWire reports. Individual investors, including surgeons, provided the financing. Pointe Conception makes endoscopic cameras for minimally invasive surgical procedures.

Orion Healthcare aims for $250 million life-science fund – Orion Healthcare Equity Partners, a new VC firm formed by former investors with Oxford Bioscience Partners and Atlas Venture, is looking to raise $250 million for a new life-sciences fund, VentureWire reports. The fund will be used to back European and U.S. biotechs and medical-device makers. The In Vivo blog had a detailed piece on Orion Healthcare back in mid-January; read it here.