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Omthera raises $33.9M in Series B Financing

From the FinallyFast help desk:

Omthera Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately-held emerging specialty pharmaceuticals company, announced Monday that it has raised $33.9 million in a Series B funding round, led by new investor, Menlo Park, Calif.-based capital firm New Enterprise Associates. Existing investor Sofinnova Partners, also participated in the financing. The capital raised will be used to fund the Phase 3 clinical development of Omthera’s novel Omega-3 fatty acid compound, Epanova, and for general corporate purposes. With this latest round, Omthera has raised approximately $40.4 million in venture capital since commencement of operations in 2009.
In a separate press release issued today, Omthera announced that the Company has initiated its pivotal Phase III EVOLVE trial for Epanova, for the treatment of patients with very high triglycerides.
“Omthera continues to generate very positive data indicating that Epanova has the potential to become the best-in-class therapy in the nearly $2 billion worldwide Rx Omega-3 market and an important treatment for the millions of patients suffering from high triglycerides,” stated Jerry Wisler, President, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Omthera. “As such, we are delighted to gain the support of a venture capital firm of the stature of NEA to lead this substantial new funding.”
David M. Mott, formerly the Chief Executive Officer of MedImmune, and now a General Partner at NEA, has joined Omthera’s Board of Directors, bringing the Board to four members. Mr. Wisler added, “We appreciate the continued strong support of Sofinnova Partners and welcome our newest Board member, David Mott, who brings a wealth of experience to our growing Company. The participation of Sofinnova Partners, together with David and NEA, reflects the market’s confidence in the potential of Epanova. The funds raised in this latest round will enable Omthera to progress its clinical program with Epanova in patients with very high triglyceride levels and mixed dyslipidemia through to a New Drug Application filing, which is anticipated to occur in 2012.”
Mr. Mott noted, “I am very pleased to join the Omthera team and believe strongly in the Company’s value proposition. Management’s significant expertise and proven track record have allowed the Company to move rapidly since inception to bring the clinical development of Epanova to this important inflection point.” He continued, “There is a distinct market need for a more effective and convenient prescription-strength Omega-3 treatment option for patients suffering from very high triglycerides who need to maintain a low-fat diet. Data generated to date indicates that Epanova has solid promise in this area, with the potential to deliver improved and more predictable bioavailability than currently available ethyl ester based formulations of Omega-3s. Epanova has the potential to capture significant market share and eclipse currently available therapies to become the drug of choice.”
Mr. Mott, with more than 20 years of experience in the life sciences industry, including his 16 year tenure at MedImmune, focuses on biopharmaceutical investments at NEA. He is currently Chairman of 3-V Biosciences and Zyngenia, and is a director of Ardelyx, Epizyme, and TESARO.
Bedminster, New Jersey-based Omthera has raised a total of about $40.4 million in venture capital financing to date.


City and Regional Magazine Publishers Using Mobile Apps

Members of the City and Regional Magazine Association are growing their respective use of mobile apps as an added real-time extension to each participating magazine’s print messaging and influence.

Dining, entertainment, attractions, nightlife, accommodations, shopping, and local sightseeing, as well as the ‘best of,” are among the many categories at the real-time fingertips of both visitor and local iPhone users.
“Many of our association’s members are offering their readers the opportunity to engage with their respective magazines anywhere, any time; providing well-researched and accurate information covering the full gambit of products, services and events available in their respective communities,” explained C. James Dowden, CRMA’s Executive Director.
In addition to iPhone mobile apps, publications like D Magazine are reaching out beyond iPhones into the bigger world of mobile web app providers.
“We realized early on in the mobile app process that when you’re serving a community as big as a city, you can’t focus on one platform and expect to hit the majority…to advance our reach we are expanding into the wider world of mobile web app providers,” explains, Jennifer Erwin, D Magazine Publisher.
“We’ll be able to provide nearly the same rich experience as within an iPhone App, but via the browser across the majority of smartphones.” Erwin added, “Not to mention the fact that we won’t have to deal with lengthy approval processes – or be beholden to any of the providers’ terms – expanding to more mobile web apps also means we can develop these completely in house with our current team…Long term, we’ll be able to react quicker with better mobile products and serve a greater number of users. It’s a win all around.”
New Orleans Magazine has been utilizing mobile Apps for four months now….the app is from CRMA associate member, Godengo, and is tied to the publication’s website,” said Todd Matherne, CEO/Publisher. “We offer ads on the apps and promote with print ads as an added value to our buys…we are still experimenting with ways to increase even more value to our advertisers…and the increased use of mobile applications, is part of that expansion,” added Matherne.
New York’s Buffalo Spree Magazine, is currently working with Zinio, their digital publisher and associate member of CRMA, to get Buffalo Spree digital on the iPhone/pad/touch up and running. “We’re also working with Godengo (on-line publisher) that is developing a mobile version of Buffalo Spree’s website…with the implementation of these two initiatives, we’ll soon be joining the ranks of the growing mobile community,” said Matthew Cirillo, Director of Information Technology for Buffalo Spree Publishing.
Honolulu Magazine publisher, Alyson Helwagen, said their app, developed with Godengo, basically delivers information from their website via an app rather than a browser. “We have maybe 2,000 downloads, which is a lot since we’ve done nothing to promote it — people are just finding it in the iTunes store, explained Helwagen. “We’re still refining, and haven’t done much promoting; we’re waiting until we have the product fine-tuned…We do have a digital edition on sale on the Honolulu site that allows users to read the magazine in any browser, or on any tablet or phone. We’ve been promoting that heavily online, a little bit in print,” added Helwagen.
“As with these magazines – and other titles in various stages of app development – the hands-on convenience of various mobile apps, ultimately provides immediate gratification for consumers making daily and immediate decisions about where to go and what to buy. Their continued and expanded use is projected to increase throughout the CRMA membership, offering both advertisers and users maximum benefit,” stressed, Dowden.

Around the City

From FinallyFast:

I decided to take a little break from all of the technical news and let you all see a little bit about Ascentive. So once a week I’m going to share some of my favorite spots around Philadelphia (which is where our Ascentive Offices are located). I might also share some fun pictures of our offices too, we’ll see.  I figured I would start off down at the historical area. They recently opened what they found of the President’s house just a little while ago and I had yet to go down and look around. It was a very interesting exhibit, although it was a lot colder then I expected.

The glass you see surrounds an opening that shows down to the foundations of the House. All of the brick walls and fireplaces above ground are were they would be if the house was still standing.

There are a ton of different screens, each telling a different story of one of the several slaves that worked in that house. If it had been warmer I think I would have spend more time sitting and listening.

Here is a picture of the actually foundation. If you get a change a walk around Independence Hall and the Park it is well worth it. You can check out more information on The President’s House here, or by going to the Independence Hall Park Website.

Senator Schumer Wants to protect Free Wifi Networks

From the FinallyFast Help Desk

Senator Charles E. Schumer of NY today called on providers of major websites in the United States, like Twitter, Yahoo, and Amazon, to switch default web addresses from the standard HTTP protocol to the secure HTTPS protocol after reports that hackers are granted easy access to users’ private information through common wireless networks found at coffee houses and book stores throughout New York and the country. Schumer pointed out that the proliferation of easy-to-use hacking programs allow identity thieves easy access to private information, like passwords, user names, credit card information, and browsing history that is stored in cookies of users of the same wireless network.

“The number of people who use WiFi to access the Internet in coffee shops, bookstores and beyond is growing by leaps and bounds, but these users are unaware that they are easy prey for hackers and identity thieves. It is scary how easy it is. Free WiFi networks provide hackers, identity thieves and spammers alike with a smorgasbord of opportunities to steal private user information like passwords, usernames, and credit card information,” said Schumer. “The quickest and easiest way to shut down this one-stop shop for identity theft is for major websites to switch to secure HTTPS web addresses instead of the less secure HTTP protocol, which has become a welcome mat for would be hackers.”

Schumer noted that easy-to-use programs, like Firesheep have made tapping into someone else’s computer, which at one time was a much more complicated and sophisticated process, easy for individuals who have little-to-no programming experience, opening the door to a greater population of would-be identity thieves. Through the unsecure HTTP extension, hackers are able to obtain access to the user’s web browsing history and perform functions on websites as if they were the individuals who were hacked. This ability to invade someone else’s online identity allows the hacker to operate on each website as the victim, potentially allowing the hacker to make purchases with user information, access the users Facebook page, send a Tweet from someone’s Twitter account, and gain access to private information stored on various websites. While some websites at their initial interface with the user encrypt the user provided information, and some allow users to manually opt-in to the HTTPS protocol, none of the websites Schumer wrote to today use HTTPS as the default for all use and browsing.

The growth and popularity of free WiFi access at coffee houses, bookstores and other establishments allow for greater exploitation of the security flaws in HTTP extensions. Users in establishments with WiFi networks that patrons are able to access are all simultaneously operating on the same Internet network, which provides the technological path to access someone else’s computer. While programs like Firesheep that provide access could be targeted by law enforcement officials for restriction, others will swiftly take its place as long as HTTP remains the default protocol for popular websites. It would be next to impossible to shut down each and every program that emerges and that allows access to a user’s cookies. The most significant and direct way to protect users and combat online identity theft would be to change Internet protocols that would create a firewall for access.

According the digital think tank Digital Society, dozens upon dozens of popular websites operate with unsecured web addresses using the HTTP protocol. Despite the fact that this security flaw has been well known since at least 2007, major US websites have been slow in addressing this significant security flaw. Schumer’s letter to the companies asks that they address this vulnerability immediately in order to protect users’ private information and help protect Americans from identity theft.

“This security problem has been known for quite some time and hackers are getting better at creating programs that allow even the most inexperienced users the ability to hack into someone else’s computer,” said Schumer. “With the privilege of serving millions of U.S. citizens, providers of major websites have a responsibility to protect individuals who use their sites and submit private information. It’s my hope that the major sites will immediately put in place secure HTTPS web addresses.”

Cyber Security Bill Forbids ‘Internet Kill Switch,’ Senators say

The sudden trend to shut off internet access in response to civilian unrest and opposition protests, which has recently emerged among Middle Eastern governments, will not extend to the United States. That is the aim of new legislation proposed by Senators Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins, which will prohibit the idea of an “internet kill switch” in the U.S. government.

The Cyber Security and Internet Freedom Act of 2011 comes in response to recent government discussion about power over the internet. After governments in Egypt and Libya disconnected the internet in their respective countries, and cyber security officials continue to warn about growing threats facing government networks, some high-ranking military and political officials had weighed the option of providing the federal government the power to cut off internet access. This bill appears to be the first sign of action in the debate and is vehemently opposed to the measure.

“While the United States must ensure the security of our nation and its critical infrastructure, it must do so in a manner that does not deprive Americans of the ability to lawfully read or express their views,” Collins, a Maine Republican, said in a statement delivered on the floor. “Neither the president nor any other federal official should have the authority to ‘shut down’ the internet.”

Senator Lieberman stressed that point even further, explaining that the bill was proposed quickly as part of an effort to dispell any rumors or misconceptions about the approach the federal government should take toward cyber security.

“We want to clear the air once and for all. As someone said recently, the term ‘kill switch’ has become the ‘death panels’ of the cyber security debate. There is no so-called ‘kill switch’ in our legislation because the very notion is antithetical to our goal of providing precise and targeted authorities to the president,” Lieberman said.

The debate has been ongoing for weeks, apparently set off by the measures taken in Egpyt. Earlier this month, Gregory Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a watchdog organization, testified before the House Armed Services Subcommittee about the dangers of shutting off U.S. internet access. Congressman Mac Thornberry, a Republican from Texas, favored the option to shut off internet access and compared it to the military power required in the face of a weapons strike. Nojeim, however, maintained that unforeseen effects could make a situation worse, as the internet is also the main medium of modern communication.

Collins, in promoting the Cyber Security and Internet Freedom Act of 2011, appears to have heard Nojeim’s call to protect free speech, even on the internet.

“Freedom of speech is a fundamental right that must be protected, and his ban was clearly designed to limit criticisms of his government. Our cyber security legislation is intended to protect the United States from external cyber attacks,” Collins said.

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