Xconomy Report For Oct. 28, 2011

Oct. 28, 2011

BOSTON — The top story in innovation this week is that Weston-based Biogen Idec met its goals in a second clinical trial of the company's first pill for multiple sclerosis (MS). The neurodegenerative disease affects 400,000 patients in the U.S.; Biogen is the world’s largest MS drugmaker, selling injectable treatments. In the study, Biogen’s pill reduced MS flareups by 44 percent when patients took it twice a day and by 51 percent when they took it three times a day. It’s an important milestone for Biogen, since two of its competitors — Novartis and Acorda Therapeutics — have already gained FDA approval for oral MS treatments.
In other news, Bedford-based iRobot, the maker of Roomba vacuum cleaners and military PackBots, reported a strong third-quarter profit but laid off 8 percent of its staff — a total of 55 workers — across Massachusetts, North Carolina and California.
MassChallenge, the Boston startup accelerator and business competition, awarded $1 million in prizes among 17 startups. Alkeus Pharmaceuticals, Sanergy and Tinfoil Security led the way with $100,000 each.

More broadly, Bay State companies raised $250 million in venture capital last month. The total for the third quarter was $505 million, down by about half from the previous quarter, when there was talk of a new tech bubble.

The weekly roundup of business, technology and life science news from our partners at Xconomy.com airs every Friday on WGBH 89.7 Boston Public Radio.

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