Life sciences briefing: Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008

TODAY’S HEADLINES:

astrazeneca-logo.gifAstraZeneca spinout Albireo raises $27M for GI drugs – AstraZeneca spun out a new biotech startup, Albireo (no Web site), with the help of venture backers who provided $27 million in a first funding round. Investors included Nomura Phase4 Ventures, TVM Capital and Scottish Widows Investment Partnership.

Albireo, which will be based in Gothenburg, Sweden, will focus on unspecified gastrointestinal diseases. The company will take over one experimental drug that is already in clinical testing, plus a number of other candidates at earlier stages of development. Albireo anticipates expanding its first round of funding to as much as $40 million.

mako-surgical-logo-150px.gifKnee-implant maker MAKO Surgical slashes IPO price range – Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based MAKO Surgical, a developer of knee implants and associated robotic-surgery systems, slashed its expected IPO pricing by 30 percent. The company now expects its shares to price between $10 and $11 apiece, down from an earlier range of $14 to $16.

MAKO now stands to raise no more than $63.8 million, down from as much as $93.8 million under its previous expectation. Following the offering — if it takes place — the company could have a market capitalization of as much as $202.4 million.

The retrenchment is the latest sign of trouble brewing in the life-sciences IPO market, which wasn’t actually all that healthy to begin with. Should MAKO fail to price its offering, it would become the eighth life-science startup to yank its IPO this year — assuming no other company gets there first, that is.