TODAY’S HEADLINES:

essex-woodlands-logo-150px.gifEssex Woodlands raising $1.25B for life-scences fund — Essex Woodlands Health Ventures, a Palo Alto, Calif., VC firm, is in the process of raising a new $1.25 billion fund for life-sciences investments, VentureWire reports. The fund could close as early as this month, but might slip into early 2008, according to the newswire.

The fund, Essex Woodlands’ eighth, would be double the size of the firm’s previous $600 million fund. It would also be the largest such healthcare-focused fund ever raised, dwarfing a $900 million fund MPM Capital pulled together in 2002.

With such a large fund in hand, Essex is likely to favor later-stage investments, which typically require far larger commitments, as well as venture investments in public companies. The firm has recently bolstered its investment team and expanded its geographical reach, having recently closed its first two deals in China.

scp-vitalife-logo-150px.jpgSCP VitaLife raises $122M for life sciences — SCP Vitalife, a life-sciences fund formed by the U.S. investment firm SCP Partners and the Israeli VC firm Vitalife, has secured $122 million toward an expected $150 million life-science fund, VentureWire reports. The firm currently believes the fund will exceed its target, but won’t go above its “hard cap” of $200 million.

A pre-existing partnership between the late-stage U.S. VC firm and its early-to-mid stage counterpart has already produced two successful investments — Sightline Technologies, a startup developing endoscopic diagnostic systems, which was acquired in March 2006, and Can-Fite BioPharma, which listed on the Tel Aviv stock exchange in 2005. The firms then decided to raise the current fund together.