A Medical Device Daily

WebMD Health Holdings (New York), a wholly owned subsidiary of WebMD (Elmwood Park, New Jersey), has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering (IPO) of its Class A common stock. WebMD said the stock to be offered will be newly issued shares. The number of shares and pricing were not described in the filing.

While the company, in its filing, listed an amount of $50 million, it issued a clarifying statement saying that this figure “was set forth solely for the purpose of calculating registration fees” and is “not indicative of the final size” or terms being offered.

It said the proceeds of the offering will be used for working capital and corporate purposes including capital expenditures and acquisitions.

WebMD Health Holdings is a provider of health information services to consumers, physicians and healthcare professionals through both public and private online portals. It describes its mission as to become “the most trusted brand of health information, providing the most effective and efficient channel to educate and influence informed health and wellness decisions.”

WebMD Health Holdings said it will change its name before completion of the offering to a name not yet chosen but including the term “WebMD,” which will continue as its brand name. It said that its parent company, over the next months, will change its name to one that does not include the term WebMD and will no longer use that term as a brand name.

• Spherics (Lincoln, Rhode Island), a company focused on applying its oral drug delivery platform to develop products for what it described as having “improved therapeutic profiles,” reported completing a Series C round of financing, raising $26.4 million. The company said that the proceeds will be used to advance the company’s product pipeline, commercialization and business development.

Spherics has developed a drug delivery platform which includes bioadhesive, biocompatible and bioerodable polymer-based spheres for drug encapsulation; bioadhesive enhancers and coatings; and phase inversion nanoencapsulation (PIN), a process to create minute drug carriers for systemic absorption with low bioavailability.

The platform, Spherics said, “has broad potential to establish [our] own proprietary pipeline of products and play a major role in life-cycle management, as well as enhance the delivery of biologics.”

Advent International of Boston led the investment and was joined by new investors MVM Life Sciences, Oakwood Medical Investors, AM Pappas, Mitsubishi, and Vectis Life Sciences Fund. A and B investors Zero Stage Capital, CB Health Ventures, POD Holding, and Eastman Ventures all participated in this round. Ferghana Securities, a life sciences investment bank, served as financial advisor for the financing.

“The financing will allow us to move our products through clinical development and establish manufacturing capabilities in support of commercialization,” said Dr. Ze’ev Shaked, president and CEO of Spherics. He noted that Spherics recently completed its first human proof-of-concept, Phase I pharmacokinetic study demonstrating the utility of its approach to enhance the bioavailability of poorly absorbed drugs.

In other financing news: Assay Designs (Ann Arbor, Michigan) reported receiving a $5 million Series A investment from Ampersand Ventures (San Diego/Wellesley, Massachusetts), the sole investor in the round.

Assay Designs manufactures immunoassay (ELISA) kits, luminescent reagents, antibodies and proteins for the life sciences. It says that researchers use its products “to detect and quantify molecules that are important in cell regulation, signal transduction, oxidative stress, inflammation and apoptosis.”

Dr. Russell Hart, company co-founder and president, said that the investment by Ampersand “allows us to go to the next level. We will get the ability to develop the company by its investment in our sales and marketing, research and manufacturing activities.”

Ampersand’s investments include those in Aclara Biosciences, Dynex Technologies, ESA, IBT Reference Laboratory, Medifacts International and Stressgen Bioreagents.