Life-science briefing: Friday, March 7, 2008

TODAY’S HEADLINES:

allegro-dx-logo-150px.gifAllegro pulls in $4M for lung-cancer molecular diagnostics – Boston’s Allegro Diagnostics, a biotech developing molecular diagnostics for lung cancer, raised $4 million in a first funding round. Investors included Kodiak Venture Partners, Catalyst Health Ventures and Boston University.

Allegro is commercializing gene-expression tests based on technology developed by two BU researchers, Jerome Brody and Avrum Spira. The company’s Web site and release don’t describe its technology in further detail. Allegro says the funding will allow it to begin human testing of its diagnostic.

i-therapeutix-logo-150px.gifOcular bandage developer I-Therapeutix raises $6M – I-Therapeutix, a Waltham, Mass., device maker focused on using hydrogels as “liquid bandages” for ocular surgeries, expects to close a $6 million second funding round this month, Mass High Tech reports. Investors included Versant Ventures, SV Life Sciences, Pinnacle Ventures and angel investors.

Founded in 2006, I-Therapeutix plans to begin clinical trials of its hydrogel sealant in cataract surgery in the second quarer of this year. The product, called I-Zip, will be compared to ordinary corneal bandages. Ultimately, the startup plans to develop the hydrogel as a mechanism for delivering drugs directly to the eye.

aridis-logo-150px.gifAridis Pharma seeks $10M for oral-form drugs and vaccines – Aridis Pharmaceuticals, a San Jose, Calif., drug and vaccine developer, aims to raise up to $10 million in a first funding round, VentureWire reports. The company was founded in 2003 by former executives of Aviron, which was acquired by MedImmune in 2002.

Aridis is working to stabilize drugs and vaccines that would otherwise require injections so that they can be delivered via inhalation or swallowing. Its lead candidates include a rotavirus vaccine, an antibody for cystic fibrosis and a new type of antibiotic.

nfocus-logo-150px.gifNeurosurgical device maker Nfocus Neuro acquires StarFire Medical – Nfocus Neuromedical, a Palo Alto, Calif., device maker focused on treating hemorrhagic stroke, acquired StarFire Medical, a developer of minimally invasive devices for treating problems in the blood vessels serving the brain. The companies didn’t divulge financial details.

StarFire makes and sells balloon catheters for treating brain-vessel fistulas and aneurysms, both blood-vessel defects that can lead to uncontrolled bleeding. Nfocus makes a different type of device for treating these defects, although it doesn’t appear to have disclosed much about its particular approach.

nanobio-logo-150px.gifNanoBio gets last of $30M for skin-infection drugs – NanoBio, an Ann Arbor, Mich., biotech developing new anti-infective drugs, raised the final $10 million of a $30 million equity funding that appears to be the company’s first. Perseus provided the funding. NanoBio’s lead compounds address herpes cold sores and nail fungus.