A Medical Device Daily

Longitude Capital (Menlo Park, California) reported the closing of its first investment vehicle, Longitude Venture Partners, a $325 million venture capital fund dedicated to life sciences investments. The fund exceeded its target of $250 million, the company said.

The team at Longitude Capital includes: managing directors Juliet Tammenoms Bakker, Patrick Enright and Marc-Henri Galletti, venture partner Jeffrey Gold, principals Douglas Foster and David Hirsch, and CFO Elaine Erickson. The firm was formed following the team's spin-out from Pequot Capital, where they were responsible for venture capital investments in life sciences companies since 1997.

"We have a strong team and a unique style of investing that has produced excellent returns over multiple fund vintages," said Bakker, Longitude co-founder and managing director. "As has been the case in the past, we are active investors across all sectors and stages but tend to favor earlier-stage medical device companies and later-stage opportunities in biotech."

Prior to forming Longitude, the team was collectively responsible for more than 100 venture capital investments in the life sciences. Representative investments include Ablation Frontiers, Acufocus, Align Technology, Cephalon, Codexis, CryoVascular Systems, Embolic Protection, eyeonics, Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, Horizon Therapeutics, Insulet, MAP Pharmaceuticals, Oratec, Prestwick Pharmaceuticals, Sequenom and SUGEN.

The team's experience spans all stages of companies in most therapeutic areas within the medical device and biotechnology sectors.

"In addition to traditional venture capital investments, we will also pursue special situations including PIPEs, recaps and spin-outs," said Enright, Longitude co-founder and managing director. "Our research-intensive approach often leads us into areas that are contrarian, undercapitalized or otherwise out of favor."

UBS Securities acted as exclusive placement agent and financial advisor to Longitude Capital in connection with the offering.

"We are very pleased that Longitude Venture Partners exceeded its target offering size and is one of the largest first-time funds ever raised in the life sciences sector," said David Webb, executive director of UBS Securities.

In other financing activity:

• Arterial Remodeling Technologies (ART; Noisy-le-Roi, France), a company developing bioabsorbable stents, told VentureWire that it has begun raising a $10 million Series C round to launch clinical trials next year.

Patrick Sabaria, CEO of ART, said his company has already received commitments from its existing backers — French firms Matignon Technologies and SGAM Alternative Investments — and is looking for a more diverse investor pool this time around, including VCs from the U.S., the UK and the rest of Europe, for a round he would like to close by year's end.

"We want to use the proceeds of the financing to fund our clinical trial to get our CE Mark," Sabaria said.

ART is developing a bioabsorbable stent made solely out of a lactic acid polymer. Sabaria said these "third-generation" stents are designed to eliminate the problem of the original bare-metal stents, which could cause restenosis, and the later drug-eluting stents, which could cause thrombosis.

Stents are deployed alongside balloon angioplasty, and Sabaria said ART and its competitors are looking to upend the notion that the vessel needs help staying open forever.

"We're using non-permanent bioabsorption, which gives a temporary solution to what is really a temporary problem," he said. The stent is designed to dissipate in 12 to 16 months.

Sabaria said three other clinical-stage companies are working on non-permanent stents. Abbott Laboratories (Abbott Park, Illinois) and Reva Medical (San Diego) are looking at drug-coated biomaterials while Biotronik (Lake Oswego, Oregon) is developing a drug-eluting biodegradable metallic stent. He said that unlike these companies, ART's device eschews drugs altogether.

Sabaria said that if the round proceeds as planned and the company has the cash in-hand by early 2009, ART will be able to launch European trials in the second half of the year. U.S. trials will take longer, he said, because FDA is starting to take a harder look at all stents.

ART last raised 15.5 million in November 2007 and has taken 110 million total. The company has eight employees.

• NightHawk Radiology Holdings (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho), a provider of radiology solutions to radiology groups and hospitals throughout the U.S., said its board has authorized up to $10 million of share repurchases of its common stock.

NightHawk's CEO and chairman, Paul Berger, said the board believes that repurchasing shares in the current marketplace represents a good investment for the company and that the stock repurchase program will help enhance long-term shareholder value.

• Accuri Cytometers (Ann Arbor, Michigan), a life sciences company developing bench-top flow cytometer systems, reported the completion of a $13 million Series C financing led by Fidelity Biosciences and Flagship Ventures. Current investors including Baird Venture Partners and Arboretum Ventures also participated in the financing. Accuri said it would use the proceeds primarily to expand its commercialization activities for the Accuri C6 Flow Cytometer system.

Bahaa Fam, a venture partner with Fidelity Biosciences, and Harry Wilcox, a partner with Flagship Ventures, will join Accuri's board.