Featured companies: 20/20 GeneSystems, Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Cumbre Pharmaceuticals, Dara BioSciences, Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, Fermentas, International, Iasis Medical, New Leaf Venture Partners, Point Therapeutics, Power Medical Interventions, Rules-Based Medicine, Spinal Restoration, Still River Systems, Targanta Therapeutics

(UPDATED: See below.)

[NOTE: In the interests of getting items up as quickly as possible, I’m going to begin posting linked headlines, which I’ll subsequently flesh out in many — but not all — cases. As the news gets heavier, the briefing is taking longer and longer to put together, to the point where I sometimes don’t have much time to write about anything else. Feel free to let me know in comments how well this works for you.]

spinal-restoration-logo.jpgSpinal Restoration raises $16M for disc augmentation — Spinal Restoration, an Austin, Tex., developer of an implantable material designed to treat lower back pain, raised $16 million in a second funding round. Investors included Santé Health Ventures, MB Venture Partners, Austin Ventures and Path4 Ventures.

The startup is working on a filler biomaterial for ruptured spinal discs. This fibrin sealant, which is derived from human sources, is designed to be injected into ruptured discs in order to seal internal fissures and to prevent the leakage of the disc’s contents, potentially in a way that could encourage further healing. If it works, the process could potentially replace spinal fusion for patients whose injuries don’t respond to rest and physical therapy.

targanta_logo-1.jpgAntibiotic maker Targanta becomes latest disappointing biotech IPO — The Cambridge, Mass., developer of an in-licensed antibiotic for drug-resistant infections priced its IPO below its expected range, then saw its newly listed shared decline in early trading. Targanta priced as many as 5.8 million shares at $10 apiece, below its $12 to $14 range (see our coverage), raising the company a maximum of $57.5 million — down considerably from the $92.6 million it had hoped for.

Following the listing, Targanta’s shares dropped almost immediately, and by early afternoon were trading at $9.35, down 65 cents, or 6.5 percent.

I raised concerns about Targanta’s strategy here (capsule version: The company’s antibiotic Oritavancin faces a slew of competition and hasn’t even been tested in-house, as Targanta licensed it at a late stage from another company). Now it looks as though investors may have harbored similar reservations.

power-medical-logo.jpgPower Medical sets IPO terms, aims to raise up to $62M for computer-assisted surgical instruments — Power Medical, a Langhorne, Pa., developer of computer-assisted surgical tools, said it would price up to 4.4 million shares at $12 to $14 apiece, which would allow it to raise as much as $61.6 million. Its SEC filing is here.

The company’s latest plans amount to a significantly smaller IPO than the $100 million offering it had initially contemplated. We last wrote about Power Medical’s IPO plans here.

cumbre-logo.jpgTularik spinoff Cumbre Pharma raises insider financing for anti-infective drugs — Dallas-based Cumbre Pharmaceuticals, a specialty pharma developing new anti-infective drugs, raised a new funding round from individual investors. Terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed.

Cumbre spun out of the former biotech Tularik (since acquired by Amgen) in 2001. It is focused on developing “hybrid” antibiotics formed by fusing together individual antibiotic compounds in hopes of producing more potent drugs that can take on microbes resistant to current antibiotics. Its lead compound, CBR-2092, has completed early-stage human trials, and is intended to attack drug-resistant staphylococcus infections.

Investors in the round included a number of prominent individuals in the life sciences. Among them were Tularik co-founder David Goeddel, Tularik and Cumbre co-founder Steven McKnight, Xenoport president William Rieflin, and former EDS president Morton Meyerson.

new-leaf-logo.jpgNew Leaf Venture Partners raises $450M healthcare fund — New Leaf, a bicoastal VC firm with offices in New York and Menlo Park, Calif., raised $450 million for a new healthcare-technologies fund. The firm intends to target later-stage biotech and specialty pharma companies, early-stage medical-device developers, and new molecular diagnostics.

bellicum-logo.jpgBellicum Pharma draws in $3.8M for cancer vaccines — Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, a Houston biotech aiming to develop cancer vaccines, drew in $3.8 million in seed funding and a grant from the state of Texas. The company pulled in seed funding of $2.3 million from local angel investors; the $1.5 million grant was awarded by the state’s Emerging Technology Fund.

Bellicum is developing a therapeutic vaccine against prostate cancer that is designed to turn the body’s own immune-system defenses against tumors. (Dendreon, whose Provenge vaccine has been in the news over the past several months, is taking a similar approach.) The new wrinkle in Bellicum’s approach is that the company genetically modifies dendritic cells, which help direct immune responses against invaders in the body, so that they can be “activated” at a particular time and in a particular location in the body by applying a triggering chemical. There’s more here.

Other headlines of note:

UPDATE: Expanded Targanta, Power Medical, Cumbre, New Leaf, and Bellicum items.
UPDATE REDUX: Corrected a typo in the Power Medical IPO data.


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