Life Sciences Roundup

Spotlight on flurry of technology firm transactions

Xconomy.Com / July 18, 2011

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Boston-area IT, energy, and life-sciences companies have been making plenty of headlines on acquisitions and venture investments:

■The Waltham business software maker dynaTrace Software Inc. was bought by a Detroit company, Compuware Corp., for $256 million in cash, a deal that closed July 1. DynaTrace, whose technology enables companies to manage software applications, has raised $22 million since its founding in 2005.

EnerNOC Inc., of Boston, an energy-management and demand-response technology provider, has bought Energy Response, the largest provider of demand-response systems in Australia and New Zealand, for an undisclosed sum.

Zafgen Inc., a Cambridge developer of obesity drugs, bagged a $33 million Series C round led by its existing investors, including Third Rock Ventures and Atlas Venture. The deal doubled Zafgen’s total financing to $66 million.

Allegro Diagnostics Inc., of Maynard, added another $5.4 million to its Series A funding round, from existing investors Kodiak Venture Partners and Catalyst Health Ventures.

■The medical technology start-up Avedro Inc., of Waltham, nabbed a $25 million Series C financing led by SCP Vitalife and Aperture Venture Partners, with participation from previous backers Prism VentureWorks, De Novo Ventures, Flagship Ventures, Borealis Ventures, and Echelon Ventures. The company is looking to use the pulse in microwave energy to correct vision.

■The medical device giant Medtronic Inc., of Minneapolis, has acquired Salient Surgical of Portsmouth, N.H. Medtronic paid $525 million for Salient, which makes devices that stop bleeding and seal wounds.

TripAdvisor, of Newton, has acquired a Chicago social-travel company called Where I’ve Been. Financial terms were not disclosed. Where I’ve Been’s entire product team will join TripAdvisor.

Erin Kutz

Verastem Inc., an oncology start-up founded in Boston by MIT biologists Robert Weinberg and Eric Lander, has raised $32 million in a Series B financing. Verastem is developing drugs that target cancer stem cells. It previously raised $16 million from a group led by former Sirtris Pharmaceuticals Inc. chief executive Christoph Westphal’s Longwood Founders Fund.

Longwood joined this latest funding round, which was led by Advanced Technology Ventures and Astellas Venture Management, with participation from the other existing investors, Bessemer Venture Partners, Cardinal Partners, and MPM Capital.

Verastem will use the proceeds to support development of its drug candidates, which the company is in the process of selecting, with the goal of getting the first drug into clinical trials in 2012.

Verastem is focusing on triple-negative breast cancer, in which tumors lack the three key receptors associated with breast cancer that current drugs target: estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).

“There are very limited therapeutic options for these patients, and they have a poor prognosis,’’ says Robert Forrester, Verastem’s chief operating officer.

Targeting cancer stem cells is one of the hottest concepts in oncology research. The fascination with stem cells is so high that tiny Stemline Therapeutics Inc., of New York, another start-up working on the concept, had a standing-room-only crowd at its recent presentation.

Forrester says the combination of product development and financial expertise on Verastem’s newly enhanced team of investors will move the company forward. “These are extremely well-known and sophisticated biotech investors,’’ he says.

Arlene Weintraub

Polaris Venture Partners in Waltham has invested in its first set of companies from its $375 million sixth fund, including two Massachusetts companies.

Biff Labs is a Cambridge start-up focusing on structuring social data.

Xtuit, which the Boston Business Journal reported is located in the Boston area, is working on technology to better translate cancer drugs from animal models to human studies.

The precise sizes of the deals were not disclosed.

This report was compiled by the editors of Xconomy, an online news website focused on the business of technology and innovation. For more New England coverage, visit

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