Featured companies: Asteres, HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals, Nanosphere, Novalar Pharmaceuticals, Tranzyme Pharma

(UPDATED: Expanded items for Nanosphere, HemaQuest and Transzyme. Moved Novalar to a separate item here.)

nanosphere-logo.jpgDiagnostic maker Nanosphere prices IPO at low end of range, raises up to $113M — Nanosphere, a Northbrook, Ill., biotech focused on nanotech-derived diagnostics, priced its IPO at $14 a share, at the low end of its estimated range. The company, which could sell as many as eight million shares, stands to raise up to $112.7 million in the offering, which values the company at as much as $309.4 million.

Nanosphere is focused on molecular diagnostics that gauge the likelihood of problems such as blood clots or a patient’s likely response to a particular medication. Our previous coverage of the company is here and here.

HemaQuest draws $20M to fight blood disease — Newton, Mass.-based HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals (no Web site), a biotech focused on new drugs for blood disorders such as sickle-cell anemia, raised $20 million in a first funding round. Investors included De Novo Ventures, Forward Ventures and Lilly Ventures.

The company said the funds will support clinical trials of its first drug candidate, an oral treatment for sickle-cell anemia and beta thalassemia. Both diseases involve disorders of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying molecule found in red blood cells. HemaQuest said it intends to submit plans for a human test of its drug candidate, which it didn’t identify, by the end of this year.

Novalar raises $30M for dental-numbness reverser — See the full story here.

tranzyme-pharma-logo.jpgTranzyme Pharma pulls in $20M for GI drugs — Tranzyme Pharma, a Research Triangle Park, N.C., biotech developing new drugs for gastrointestinal and metabolic disorders, raised $20 million in a third funding round. Investors included H.I.G. Ventures, Thomas, McNerney & Partners, Quaker BioVentures, and BDC Venture Capital.

Tranzyme’s lead drug candidate aims to treat severe gastroparesis, a condition in which food stops moving through the stomach, and ileus, a form of obstruction in the bowel. That drug, designated TZP-101, recently began mid-stage human trials in both conditions.

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