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Life Sciences Roundup

Device could make blood collection less of a pain

Xconomy.Com / May 24, 2010

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Seventh Sense Biosystems wants to remove some of the hassle, expense, and pain of collecting blood for medical tests.

The secretive start-up has begun talks with major health care companies about its technology, which includes a device almost anyone should be able to use without causing pain, says Doug Levinson, cofounder and chief executive.

The Cambridge company counts among its cofounders two of Boston’s medical technology gurus, R. Rox Anderson of Harvard University and Bob Langer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and prides itself on putting sophisticated technology into simple-to-use packages.

Levinson, a partner at Flagship Ventures, convinced his venture firm and the start-up’s other backers at Polaris Venture Partners in Waltham and Third Rock Ventures in Boston to invest $4.75 million in its Series A round in 2008.

Last year, Levinson gave us a look at chemistry that enables polymer particles to reveal certain colors or form-defined shapes when they come into contact with specific molecules in the blood or other bodily fluids. The technology opens the door to potential uses such as monitoring drug dosage levels or spotting infection.

Yet Levinson was less clear last year about how a patient’s blood would be tapped to enable the start-up’s chemical invention to alert patients of certain health conditions.

Enter the TAP (touch activated phlebotomy) device, which is in development.

With the push of a button, it penetrates the outer layers of the skin; blood travels through tiny channels into a reservoir, where it can be analyzed.

No uncomfortable finger sticks or needle injections are required.

Levinson says the TAP system and associated diagnostics could be embedded in a device the size of four quarters stacked together and worn on the skin like a bandage.

Seventh Sense has been developing the TAP technology over the past year, Levinson says, with guidance from Langer and Anderson. Anderson, a professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, is a prolific inventor of technologies involving the skin. Langer is a standout polymer scientist and drug-delivery expert. The start-up is nearing completion of a prototype of its complete diagnostics system built on the TAP technology, called On Vivo.

Levinson says conventional diagnostics will be used with the TAP system before its experimental polymer technology.

The TAP platform “requires further development,’’ Levinson says, “but we believe it will give rise to a blood-collection method that is imperceptible in terms of whether blood is even being taken.’’

Ryan McBride

* * *

Logical Therapeutics has secured $10 million to pursue a safer way to relieve chronic arthritis pain. The Waltham company nailed down the money in a financing round that could be worth as much as $16.9 million, according to a document filed with regulators.

It does not say who invested, and company president Carolyn Green said she could not comment.

The last time Logical announced a fund-raising was in June 2007, when it pulled in $30 million.

Last month, the company said it had started a mid-stage clinical trial of a formulation of naproxen (marketed as Naprosyn, Aleve, and other brand names) that is supposed to be safer for the gastrointestinal tract. While nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs are workhorse pain relievers sold over the counter, particularly for chronic osteoarthritis, they can cause gastric ulcers.

Logical Therapeutics’ idea is to bioengineer a version of naproxen that’s inactive in the gastrointestinal tract, but once it is absorbed into the bloodstream will quickly release naproxen to relieve pain.

Last month, Logical started enrolling the first of 534 patients in a clinical trial.

Luke Timmerman

Cytogel Pharma, a Darien, Conn., biopharmaceutical development firm, has raised $2.2 million in equity and rights funding. The company, founded in 2002, says its strategy is to license promising drugs with the intent of selling them to larger companies. Centripetal Capital Partners, of Stamford, Conn., lists Cytogel among its portfolio companies.

* * *

Arsenal Medical, a Watertown biotech start-up, has tapped its existing investors for another $10 million in the second installment of its Series C round of funding, chief executive R. Scott Rader says.

The financing brings the third round to $18.2 million.

Investors in the latest round included North Bridge Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners, both of Waltham, and Durham, N.C.-based Intersouth Partners.

The developer of bioactive materials has raised nearly $41 million since its launch. Rader declined to discuss the purpose of the latest financing.

Rader says the company might shed more light on its technology in the near future.

* * *

Rockland-based BioSphere Medical, which makes bioengineered microspheres to be injected to cut off the blood supply to tumors, vascular malformations, and uterine fibroids, announced that it will be acquired by Merit Medical Systems for $96 million in cash.

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 www.Xconomy.com/boston.