TODAY’S HEADLINES:

ulthera-logo-150px.jpgUlthera receives $23M for cosmetic ultrasound devices — Ulthera, a Mesa, Ariz., startup developing ultrasound systems for cosmetic procedures, raised $22.5 million in a second funding round. Investors included New Enterprise Associates and 3i.

Ulthera, whose Web site is still a stub, aims to use its ultrasound devices for face lifts and “skin rejuvenation.” The company says the ultrasound can penetrate and remove — “microabrades,” in its terminology — skin tissue that is several layers deep without disturbing the surface, or epidemis. Deeper treatment supposedly triggers a “natural healing effect,” which Ulthera’s CEO claims will lead to a “gradual lifting and tightening of skin tissue in and around the face.”

The product can produce ultrasound images of the area to be treated as well. Ulthera has regulatory clearance to sell its device in Europe and expects FDA approval soon as well. The company will use the funds it raised for global commercialization, product development and to conduct additional trials to expand the use of its technology.

senexis-logo-150px.gifSenexis raises £2.9M for Alzheimer’s drugs — Senexis, a Cambridge, U.K., biotech working on drugs for Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions related to aging, received £2.9 million ($5.7 million) from the Wellcome Trust. The funding came from the Wellcome’s “Seeding Drug Discovery” program, and and augments £700,000 Senexis raised last year from BTG, a London specialty pharma. BTG and the Wellcome had previously invested £2.4 million in Senexis.

The company is developing small-molecule drugs intended to prevent the misfolding of amyloid proteins, which clump together in plaques around nerve fibers. Many scientists believe that these amyloid plaques cause inflammation that ultimately kills nerve and brain cells in Alzheimer’s patients, although dissenters still argue that plaques may be a distraction or even a defensive reaction to the disease. At this point, no one can say for certain exactly what causes the disease.

Still, most Alzheimer’s drugs now under development target the clumping amyloid proteins, and Senexis is no exception. One of its two lead candidates is a small molecule designed to inhibit the misfolding and aggregation of amyloid proteins in Alzheimer’s patients. The other is intended to tamp down brain inflammation. Both are still in animal testing. Senexis also hopes to treat diabetes by inhibiting aggregation of an amyloid protein that the company appears not to have identified.

Elixir logoElixir Pharma postpones IPO — Elixir Pharmaceuticals, a Cambridge, Mass., biotech focused on anti-aging and obesity drugs, postponed its IPO. The company had most recently planned to raise as much as $92 million in its offering.

It’s not entirely clear why Elixir, which I figured would follow in the footsteps of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals‘ successful IPO (our coverage here), chose to delay the offering — which is almost always code for pulling it entirely. One possible reason might be that Elixir co-founder Leonard Guarente, a MIT professor sometimes tipped as a future Nobel laureate, decamped from Elixir for Sirtris in November.

You can see our previous coverage of Elixir here and here.