Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gilead in potential $100M cancer deal with Yale

Gilead Sciences Inc. will pay $40 million over four years and possibly $100 million total over a decade in a cancer research deal with Yale University.
Foster City-based Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD) will work with the New Haven Ivy League school on studying the genetic basis and molecular mechanisms of cancer. Gilead’s first $40 million will be spread over four years, to be spent on basic research and infrastructure. If the project seems fruitful, Gilead will then pay the remaining $60 million over six more years.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NeurogesX loses $12M in Q4, $44M in 2010

Pain treatment company NeurogesX Inc. lost $12.4 million in the fourth quarter and lost $44.5 million in 2010.
The San Mateo company (NASDAQ: NGSX), led by CEO and President Anthony DiTonno, lost $5.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Glaucoma foundation's research funding model shows results

In the great search for new ways to fund disease research, the Glaucoma Research Foundation may be on to something. Call it the know-how of strangers.
The San Francisco-based organization nine years ago pulled together four young researchers from around the country — one from Nashville, another in Seattle, one in Baltimore and another in Salt Lake City — who had never worked together before and had only tangentially looked at glaucoma. Their disparate work centered on molecular biology, genetics, neurobiology and developmental genetics.
Initially staked by $85,000 per lab per year from the foundation — a sizable amount for researchers getting their careers up and running — they essentially were told, “Let’s see what you can do.”

Monday, March 28, 2011

A.P. Pharma seeks bridge loan, will move to OTC bulletin board

A.P. Pharma Inc. said Monday it will not dispute a Nasdaq delist notice and expects to transfer to the Over the Counter Bulletin Board.
Redwood City-based A.P. Pharma (NASDAQ:APPA) said it is also in negotiations for a bridge loan to fund operations until additional longer-term financing is secured.

Versartis starts test of growth hormone therapy

Versartis Inc. started a Phase I clinical trial of a treatment for growth hormone deficiency.
The Mountain View company is testing the safety and efficacy of VRS-317, a once monthly form of recombinant human growth hormone meant to be easier to use than current daily treatments.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

QB3, Deloitte team up to clone incubator model

QB3 — the University of California life sciences-focused institute accustomed to inking research collaborations with big companies like Pfizer Inc. — has a new, untraditional partner: Deloitte.

Executive Profile: Peter Maag, president of Novartis Diagnostics

A pharmacist by training, Peter Maag joined Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics in 2009, after serving as country president of Novartis Germany. He also is head of the 850-person Emeryville site. He joined the Switzerland-based drug maker in 2001.

Real Deals: Onyx, stem cells, neuroscience, the Science Center at Oyster Point and more

The San Francisco Business Times' annual Real Estate Deals of the Year hit the streets Friday. Here are the life sciences-related real estate stories stories:

Best new R&D
UCSF stem cell research building
Near the base of Mount Sutro and behind the jam-packed medical towers of UCSF’s Parnassus Avenue campus, there was no hiding the complexity of designing and constructing a $123 million stem cell research building on a hillside.
There was the $20 million that needed to be shaved from the original conceptual design by architect Rafael Vinoly — without cutting net square footage. There was the complication of building the 68,500-square-foot structure just a few miles from the San Andreas Fault.
Arching over the entire project, too, was the timetable set by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which jumpstarted the project with $34.9 million of state bond money: 24 months to go from schematic design to work-ready occupancy.

Best new R&D (finalist)
Stanford stem cell research building
Stanford University is coming together over stem cells.
The university’s $225 million, 200,000-square-foot stem cell research center — the nation’s largest such facility — will house 550 researchers, ranging from those studying developmental biology and immunology to those concentrating on cancer and neuroscience.

Best R&D Sale/Lease
Chamberlin portfolio
BioMed Realty Trust bought Chamberlin Associates' high-profile Science Center at Oyster Point and Gateway Business Park in October — a potential 1.2 million square feet in the heart of the biotech industry, South San Francisco — for $290.3 million cash and an interest rate swap liability of $7.7 million.

Best R&D Sale/Lease (finalist)
Bayer U.S. Innovation Center is moving in, but the heart of San Francisco’s Mission Bay remains life sciences research and development.
In a building originally intended for Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drug maker, landlord Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. has essentially filled it with up-and-coming Nektar Therapeutics Inc. and longtime international player Bayer.
The Bayer deal was sealed in May 2010 for 48,913 square feet in the east wing of the 210,000-square-foot structure.

Best Steal (finalist)
Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. landed the grand slam of headquarters: a competitive price, room to grow and a spot among the more than two dozen other biotechs in South San Francisco. The 170-person cancer drug company moves in April.

Best Financial (finalist)
UCSF neuroscience building
The University of California San Francisco turned to the traditional lease-back deal to build its Neuroscience Building at Mission Bay, but it re-invented it for its own needs.
UCSF owned the land for the $200 million project, but lacked funding to build it. So it leased the land to a nonprofit group that will sublease it to Edgemoor Real Estate Services and McCarthy Cook & Co. That development team will construct the 237,000-square-foot research and lab facility and lease it back to UCSF.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Titan posts $4.3M Q4 loss

Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. posted a fourth-quarter net loss nearly triple the previous year's as the company ramped up research and development
South San Francisco-based Titan (OTCBB: TTNP) had a fourth-quarter net loss of $4.3 million, or 5 cents per share, compared with a loss of $1.5 million, or 2 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2009.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Scrappy Portola ready for new fight on blood thinner

In the street fight known as drug development, Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc. just got bloodied.
Yet even as partner Merck & Co. ran away from the brawl — saying Thursday that it was returning the blood-thinning drug betrixaban to Portola — the South San Francisco company may be in a position to stanch the bleeding. It has about $100 million on hand, a Phase III-ready drug with solid Phase II data and a deep portfolio that includes an early-stage antidote that could quickly reverse the effects of blood thinners.
To hear Portola CEO Bill Lis, you’d think his company is in a scrappy mood. Portola, he said, even could pursue indications for betrixaban beyond prevention of stroke in atrial fibrillation patients and stopping embolism after knee surgery, with or without a new partner.
“I think we want to take it forward by ourselves,” Lis said.

Biotech job-training program faces funding, hiring challenges

A proven job-training program for the life sciences industry generally isn’t being used by biotechs and is struggling with financial trouble, according to an article in SF Public Press.
The irony in biotech employers not using the Bridge to Biotech program at City College of San Francisco, as the story notes, is a recent report from the California Healthcare Institute, BayBio and PricewaterhouseCoopers in which nearly half of the roughly 100 company CEOs surveyed ranked “an unprepared workforce” among the top three threats to the future of California’s biomedical industry.
Yet some 82 percent of the 609 students who have entered Bridge to Biotech since its start in 2002 have made it through the entire program, SF Public Press said. Eighty-three percent of those survivors take even more college classes. What’s more, the program has been touted as a way of putting city residents on track toward a high-paying biotech job.
“Some companies must get over the perception that the community colleges are vocational schools, not serious academic programs,” Lori Lindburg, director of the BayBio Institute, told SF Public Press. “Bridge is first rate.”

Boston Scientific wins FDA nod for back pain device

Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE:BSX) has announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new version of its rechargeable device designed to address chronic back pain.

Air Force to use Tethys blood test in diabetes study

The U.S. Air Force will use a blood test made by Tethys Bioscience Inc. in a 600 person clinical trial studying better ways to prevent type 2 diabetes.
This trial will study 600 “pre-diabetic” Air Force retirees and dependents and will look at how well a behavior modification program helps keep them from developing the disease. Tethys’ test will be used at the start of the trial, and one group will be told their results, which show their risk, while a control group won’t get that information.

AcelRx loses $3.5 million in Q4, $14.3 million in 2010

AcelRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. lost $3.5 million in the December quarter and $14.3 million in 2010.
The Redwood City company (NASDAQ: ACRX) lost $3.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Merck returns anti-clotting drug betrixaban to Portola

An experimental blood-clotting drug for which Merck & Co. paid $50 million upfront two years ago will be returned to Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Merck (NYSE: MRK) said Thursday that it would give all rights for betrixaban, a Phase III-ready oral Factor Xa inhibitor anticoagulant aimed at preventing strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation, back to South San Francisco-based Portola. The companies said the decision was made after a review of Merck’s investigational drug portfolio.
Portola CEO Bill Lis cast the giveback as a “transformational opportunity.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gilead prices $1 billion notes offering

Drug maker Gilead Sciences Inc. will sell $1 billion in senior unsecured notes, the company said Wednesday.
Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD), the Foster City-based leader in HIV drug treatments, expects to close the sale March 30. The notes will mature April 1, 2021, and bear interest at an annual rate of 4.5 percent.

With no game plan, California risks losing life sciences lead

Pitching to maintain the Bay Area’s lead in the life sciences, industry leaders here might want to recall the legendary Satchel Paige: “Don’t look back — something may be gaining on you.”
That “something” is states like Massachusetts, which has put together a $1 billion, 10-year life sciences initiative and on Wednesday awarded loans of up to $750,000 each (totaling $3.75 million) to five early-stage companies. It is the third round of these awards.
Other states — like Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Kansas among them — are offering similar incentives to retain their most innovative companies.
And California? Left with runners on base.

New Gilead senior notes could pay off debt, buy back stock

Gilead Sciences Inc., which said Wednesday that its experimental antiretroviral drug elvitegravir performed well in a Phase III test, plans to offer senior notes from a shelf registration that could raise money to pay off debt or buy back common stock, among other uses.
The Foster City-based drug developer (NASDAQ: GILD), whose HIV-fighting drugs are used by almost four of every five treated HIV patients in the United States, said Wednesday that key terms will be determined at the time it prices the offering.

Lawrence Livermore to work with Keiretsu Forum angel investors

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Keiretsu Forum, a group of angel investors.
The deal, to be presented Thursday by Erik Stenehjem of the lab’s industrial partnerships office and Randy Williams of the Keiretsu Forum, is to help with the commercialization of technology created at the lab.

Gilead HIV drug elvitegravir does well in Phase III test

Gilead Sciences Inc. said Wednesday that an antiretroviral drug it’s testing against HIV-1 infection did well in a Phase III clinical trial.
The drug, elvitegravir, met the primary endpoint, or goal, of the study, which was “non inferiority” to another drug, raltegravir.

KaloBios Pharmaceuticals starts test of potential leukemia drug

KaloBios Pharmaceuticals Inc. started an early stage test of a treatment aimed at leukemia.
The South San Francisco business treated the first patient in a Phase I trial of KB004, a monoclonal antibody the company has developed. The drug targets the protein EphA3, which is significant in several types of cancer.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

UCSF Nobel Prize winner Blackburn founds tissue-sampling company Telome Health

Telome Health Inc. launched Tuesday to provide data from tissue samples for academic research, pharmaceutical drug development and health monitoring.
Menlo Park-based Telome Health said it leverages the predictive power of data related to telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, to assess health status, disease and mortality risk, and responses to specific therapies.

Questions remain for Xoma after diabetes drug trial failure

If it was make-or-break time for Xoma Ltd. a couple months ago, it may be break time now.
Back in January, after the Berkeley company signed a deal with French drug maker Servier around its experimental anti-inflammatory treatment for diabetes, I said it was time for Xoma to put up or shut up. XOMA-052 has been ballyhooed as a potential once-a-month diabetes treatment, but its future now is in doubt as the drug failed an important Phase II trial, the company said Tuesday.
Xoma (NASDAQ: XOMA) will continue to analyze data from this mid-stage study and another ongoing Phase II, but in perhaps the understatement of Tuesday's conference call with analysts, Xoma Chairman and CEO Steven Engle said, "We have learned a lot."

Xoma diabetes drug fails Phase II trial

Xoma Ltd.’s much-watched experimental diabetes drug failed a key Phase II study, the company said.
XOMA-052 did not hit its primary goal of reducing glycosylated hemoglobin, or HbA1c, compared to a placebo, after six monthly treatments in the Phase IIb trial.
The drug has been discussed as a potential once-a-month treatment for type 2 diabetes that targets inflammation by inhibiting the protein interleukin-1, or IL-1.

NeoTract enrolls 1st patient in prostate condition trial

Medical device company NeoTract Inc. enrolled the first U.S. patients in a multinational trial of its treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, a prostate condition in men that eventually can block the urethra.
NeoTract, based in Pleasanton and started in 2004 in New Enterprise Associates’ ExploraMed incubator in Mountain View, said the 204-patient trial of its UroLift device will involve three months of actual treatment and will be completed in December 2012.

InSite cataract surgery trial results could target market leader

A once-daily topical anti-inflammatory and anti-pain eye drug from InSite Vision Inc. was superior to a commercially available, higher-dose, twice-a-day version of essentially the same drug for patients undergoing cataract surgery, the company said after looking at early data from a Phase I/II study.
The four-arm, 169-patient study showed that ISV-303, a low-dose nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that uses the active ingredient bromfenac, performed better than ISTA Pharmaceuticals’ Xibrom as well as a placebo, according to Alameda-based InSite.

Achaogen nabs another Genenexer — this time as chief medical officer

Achaogen Inc. hired Genentech Inc. veteran Dr. Kenneth Hillan as its chief medical officer, charged with advancing the South San Francisco biotech company’s antibiotic discovery and development programs.
Hillan, who spent 16 years in Genentech drug development, is the second Genenexer nabbed by privately held Achaogen since Swiss drug maker Roche bought South San Francisco-based Genentech two years ago. Achaogen last year hired former Genentech vice president of finance and corporate planning John Doyle as chief operating officer.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nektar starts clinical work on next-generation opioid

Nektar Therapeutics Inc. started clinical trials on a next-generation drug to manage moderate to severe pain and, potentially, prevent abuse of pain-cutting opioids.
NKTR-181, as the drug is known, follows another drug developed by San Francisco-based Nektar (NASDAQ: NKTR) that focuses on opioid-induced constipation. That drug, which Nektar licensed in September 2009 to AstraZeneca in a potential $1.5 billion deal, this month entered a 630-patient, Phase III trial.
Nektar’s Phase I trial with NKTR-181 will enroll up to 75 healthy subjects to determine the effective dose range for the drug with minimal central nervous system side effects. It will be completed in the second half of this year, Nektar said.

Genentech skin cancer drug passes Phase II test

An experimental skin cancer drug from Genentech Inc. and Curis Inc. showed positive results in a mid-stage clinical trial.
South San Francisco-based Genentech, part of Swiss drug maker Roche Group, did not disclose details of its 104-patient, Phase II study of vismodegib, or GDC-0449, in advanced basal cell carcinoma. The study, however, met its primary goal of overall response rate in shrinking tumors by a pre-defined percentage, the company said.

UCSF's Keith Yamamoto named vice chancellor of research

The University of California, San Francisco said Monday it named Keith Yamamoto, a long-time leader of research at its School of Medicine, as vice chancellor of research.
Yamamoto will lead interdisciplinary research initiatives at UCSF’s schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, and its graduate programs in biological sciences.

WaferGen, NuGEN ink co-development deal

WaferGen Biosystems Inc. will partner with NuGEN Technologies Inc. to co-develop and market gene expression products, the companies said Monday.
Fremont-based WaferGen (OTCBB: WGBS) and San Carlos-based NuGEN did not disclose financial terms of the deal.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Celera sells for $344M to Quest Diagnostics

Alameda-based Celera Corp., a maker of genetic tests, was purchased by New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics Inc. in a deal valued at $344 million.
Quest will pay $8 per share of Celera, which reported revenue of $128 million in 2010.
Celera executives said the company had been looking for a partner for sometime to help market and sell its testing products.

Affymax in $50 million stock sale

Affymax Inc. is planning to raise about $50 million in a sale of its common stock, the company said Friday.
Palo Alto-based Affymax (NASDAQ:AFFY) plans to sell about 8.5 million shares to the public at $5.90 per share.

Pfizer plots return to SF's Mission Bay

Pfizer Inc. may end up in Mission Bay after all.
The world’s largest drug maker is scouting space in San Francisco’s biotech enclave — enough to house about 45 people — as it builds on a November deal with the University of California, San Francisco. About half of the people at the facility would be Pfizer employees; the remainder would be Pfizer-funded postdoctoral fellows.

Nile Therapeutics navigates new future

Nile Therapeutics Inc. is winding a treacherous path across the drug-development landscape.
The tiny San Mateo company risks NASDAQ stock delisting and may need to undertake a reverse stock split to buoy the stock’s price. Yet Nile also is striking into new territory — attempting to create a new indication for its early-stage drug — and forging an important deal with the world’s largest medical technology company, Medtronic Inc., that could shorten its journey.

New face of Amyris, Solazyme: cosmetics

Bay Area biofuels companies have taken an unexpected turn into cosmetics, but the beauty of that may be in the eye of the beholder.
Solazyme, a South Francisco algae oil producer, this month debuted its first branded skin care products, the Algenist line of moisturizers, serums and eye balm. The new cosmetics contain compounds produced from the same technology platform that Solazyme uses to produce algae-derived diesel and jet fuel.
Emeryville-based Amyris Biotech­nologies, meanwhile, has landed its first customer for the renewable compound it produces for cosmetics.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Anacor to develop malaria treatment

Anacor Pharmaceuticals on Thursday said it entered a development agreement with Medicines for Malaria Venture.
Palo Alto-based Anacor (NASDAQ:ANAC) said its compound AN3661 will be developed to treat malaria.
AN3661 was developed as part of a research agreement signed by the two parties in April 2010 to identify new compounds for the treatment of malaria using Anacor’s boron chemistry.

After earthquake, tsunami, Bay Area biotechs keep close eye on Japan ties

The devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan apparently isn’t halting the biotech wheels of commerce between Asia and the Bay Area, though companies are keeping a close eye on recovery operations.

Astellas to buy out Maxygen interest in joint venture for $76 million

Astellas Pharma Inc. will buy out Maxygen Inc.’s interest in Redwood City joint venture Perseid Therapeutics Inc. for $76 million.
Astellas and Maxygen (NASDAQ: MAXY) of Redwood City set up the joint venture in summer 2009, with Maxygen transferring substantially all of its protein pharmaceutical programs and related assets and R&D personnel to Perseid. It granted Astellas an option to to buy all of Maxygen’s ownership interest in Perseid at exercise prices that increased each quarter until Sept. 18, 2012.

FibroGen lands $40M milestone from Astellas

FibroGen Inc. received a $40 million milestone payment from Astellas Pharma Inc. as its investigational anemia therapy for chonic kidney disease patients advanced to Phase IIb studies.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

FivePrime inks potential $500M cancer drug deal with Human Genome Sciences

FivePrime Therapeutics Inc. will get $50 million upfront and as much as $445 million in future payments from Human Genome Sciences Inc. in a deal around FivePrime’s cancer-fighting genetically engineered protein drug.
The early-stage drug, called FP-1039, could be used against many types of cancers. It is in a Phase I trial but patients are being screened for a Phase II trial against a form of gynelogic cancer that attacks the lining of the uterus.

Titan to borrow $20M from Deerfield Management

Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. will borrow $20 million from Deerfield Management and use the money to pay off another loan from Oxford Finance Corp.
South San Francisco-based Titan (OTCBB: TTNP) will also spend some of the money on developing its drug Probuphine and on general company costs.
The company, led by President Sunil Bhonsle, will get the loan around April 4.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Alexza Pharma swings to $25.4M profit in Q4

Alexza Pharmaceuticals Inc. on Tuesday reported fourth quarter net income of $25.4 million, compared to a loss in the same quarter last year of $19.8 million.
Mountain View-based Alexza (NASDAQ:ALXA) also reported a loss of $1.5 million for the full year of 2010, trimmed from a full-year 2009 loss of $56.1 million.

Amgen founder, VC Bill Bowes gives $2 million to Karolinska Institutet

The foundation of Amgen Inc. founder and Bay Area venture capitalist Bill Bowes Jr. donated $2 million to Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet to establish an “accelerator fund” for young, talented scientists.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nile Therapeutics loses $6 million in 2010

Nile Therapeutics Inc. lost $6 million in 2010. In 2009, the San Mateo business lost $7.9 million.
The company (NASDAQ: NLTX) reported no revenue for either year. It did bring in some interest income in both years.
At the end of 2010, Nile had accumulated a deficit of $39.9 million.

Impax late-stage Parkinson's Disease drug works well in study

A treatment for Parkinson’s Disease being developed by Impax Laboratories Inc. did well in a Phase III clinical trial.
The Hayward company (NASDAQ: IPXL) said Monday that the drug, IPX066, an extended release treatment, performed well compared against an immediate release version of the same compound.

StemCells starts spinal cord injury trial

StemCells Inc. has started a trial — the first ever using neural stem cells — in patients with chronic spinal cord injury.
The Palo Alto company (NASDAQ: STEM) said its Phase I/II trial will consist of 12 patients with chest-level spinal cord injury receiving direct transplants of human neural stem cells into their spinal cords.

Crux Biomedical adds Randy Lindholm to board

Crux Biomedical Inc. put Randy Lindholm on its board of directors.
The Menlo Park company, started in 2004 by Dr. Tom Fogarty, a former professor at Stanford University, makes a medical device called a Vena Cava Filter that traps blood clots that could cause a pulmonary embolism.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Gilead urges rejection of 'mini-tender' offer

Gilead Sciences Inc. advised its shareholders Friday to reject a “mini-tender” offer by TRC Capital Corp. to buy up to 3 million shares.
That amount would equal about 0.37 percent of the outstanding shares of Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD), the Foster City-based developer of HIV, respiratory and other types of drugs.

Nfocus targets new treatment for aneurysms

A mesh-like blob could take over the brain aneurysm world. But first it must win the minds of doctors, regulators and insurers.
Nfocus Neuromedical Inc., the Palo Alto developer of the Luna system for treating brain aneurysms, last month won an important safety tag from European regulators and will ask for clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the next six months.

Executive Profile: Brian Kennedy of the Buck Institute for Age Research

Seven months ago, the Jeffersonville, Ind., native was happily toiling in his University of Washington lab, looking at nutrient signaling pathways that are linked to dietary restriction, when the Buck Institute came calling. For the time being, he maintains his lab in Washington as well as an independent lab in China.

Sonitus device gets European clearance

Sonitus Medical Inc. said Friday it received CE Mark certification for its SoundBite Hearing System.

CIRM looks Down Under to promote stem cell successes

California’s stem cell research funding agency is looking less Californian these days.
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine President Alan Trounson hails from Australia, and John Robson, vice president of operations, most recently was at McGill University in Montreal, for example.
And CIRM’s search for a public relations firm to evangelize about its work and the companies using technology for clinical trials and stem cell treatments has taken it far from home.
All the way to Australia.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

CIRM chairman nominations due April 15

California Gov. Jerry Brown and the state’s three other top executives will submit their nominees to lead the oversight board for the state’s stem cell research funding agency by April 15, according to a timeline adopted by the board Thursday.
That timetable would mean California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s board could pick a new chairman from nominations by Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Treasurer John Lockyer and Controller John Chiang at its May meeting.

Affymax trims loss in 2010

Affymax Inc. on Thursday reported a 2010 fiscal year loss of $14.1 million, down from a loss in the prior year of $76.5 million.
Palo Alto-based Affymax (NASDAQ:AFFY) reported $112.5 million in revenue during the year, down from 2009's $114.9 million.

Genentech's Lucentis works well in trial — but all eyes on NIH study

The Genentech Inc. eye drug Lucentis performed well in a late-stage study of patients with diabetic macular edema — a treatment that could be rejected in the United Kingdom — but the real insight could come next quarter.

Sangamo HIV project could rewrite story of state's stem cell agency

A consortium that includes Sangamo BioSciences Inc. is pursuing a next-generation stem cell treatment that could provide a longer-term — if not lifetime — barrier to the AIDS virus.
But the fate of California's $3 billion stem cell research funding agency also may rest on the success or failure of the Sangamo collaboration and 13 other "disease teams" that are trying to get into clinical trials within four years.

Gladstone joins new virus-fighting network

A new consortium of researchers, including those from the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, intends to work together to identify, prevent and treat outbreaks of new or re-emerging viruses.
Now it just needs to raise $25 million a year.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Exelixis prices 15M shares at $11

Exelixis Inc. late Wednesday priced its offering of 15 million shares at $11 per share.
The South San Francisco biotech cancer drug developer (NASDAQ: EXEL) also said it would grant underwriters of the offering a 30-day option to buy up to an additional 2.25 million shares.
In all, the offering, which could close by March 15, would gross $165 million. Exelixis would net about $155.9 million.

ARYx: FDA decision delay leads to winding down of operations

ARYx Therapeutics Inc. said Wednesday that because of a longer than expected delay in a drug decision from the Food and Drug Administration, it will begin winding down operations.
Fremont-based ARYx (NASDAQ:ARYX) said the FDA doesn't expect to make a decision until July about naronapride, the company's product candidate for the treatment of various gastrointestinal disorders.

One-on-one with Versant Ventures' Kevin Wasserstein

Kevin Wasserstein gets a charge from neuromodulation. Of the 75 companies in the portfolio of Versant Ventures, where Wasserstein is a managing director, and the $1.6 billion in committed capital that Versant manages, this area of managing and manipulating the network controlled by the brain is getting a lot of attention. I caught up with Wasserstein, a mechanical engineer by training who has been with Versant for about nine years, to chat about Menlo Park-based Versant’s interest in neuromodulation, why it’s excited about Autonomic Technologies and how regulators treat medical device innovation.

Corcept loses $7.1M in Q4, $26M in 2010

Corcept Therapeutics Inc., which plans to submit data to the FDA by the end of the month on a possible treatment for the hormonal disorder Cushing's Syndrome, lost $7.1 million in the fourth quarter and $26 million in 2010.
The Menlo Park company (NASDAQ: CORT) lost $5.2 million a year earlier in the fourth quarter. It reported no revenue in either quarter.

California controller Chiang on stem cell agency: 'Let the management manage'

The board overseeing California’s stem cell research funding agency should redefine the role of its chairman and “let the management manage,” state Controller John Chiang said Wednesday in a letter to board members.
“The (board’s) most important role — to provide independent oversight of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) management — is severely compromised when that management includes the (board) chair,” Chiang wrote.
The issue has come to a head as CIRM Chairman Klein prepares to step down from the position. He was supposed to leave the post in December, but questions arose about his hand-picked successor and the process used to select a new chairman.

Dynavax Technologies loses $15M in Q4, $57M in 2010

Vaccine and drug business Dynavax Technologies Corp. lost $15.1 million in the fourth quarter and $57.3 million in 2010.
The Berkeley business (NASDAQ: DVAX), which is developing a hepatitis B vaccine and a so-called “universal” flu vaccine, lost $30.2 million a year ago in the fourth quarter ended December.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Exelixis stock sale would net $138.8 million

Exelixis Inc.’s working capital deficit was $16.4 million at the end of 2010, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday, but would be pushed to an estimated positive $122.4 million after a proposed offering of shares.
The South San Francisco biotech cancer drug developer (NASDAQ: EXEL) said in its SEC filing that the sale of 12.5 million shares at $11.75 per share would net $138.8 million. That is just an estimate, however, and does not include the sale of an additional 1,875,000 shares to underwriters of the offering.

XDx heart transplant test wins 'medically necessary' tag from Aetna

Molecular diagnostics company XDx Inc. won an important victory as national insurance provider Aetna Inc. determined that the Brisbane company’s heart transplant test is “medically necessary” more than one year after a transplant.
Aetna’s (NYSE: AET) decision would likely help validate the AlloMap test further, and that has an impact on cash flow and the bottom line. Notably, 89-employee XDx often has to appeal each test when insurers initially say they won’t pay for it. Sometimes that goes all the way to an administrative judge.

Plexxikon starts mid-stage Hodgkin trial

Plexxikon Inc., which last week said it will be sold to Daiichi Sankyo Co. for as much as $935 million, has started treating Hodgkin lymphoma patients in a mid-stage trial.
The Berkeley biotech drug developer has drawn much attention for the late-stage melanoma-fighting drug PLX-4032, but the 30-patient Phase II trial in Hodgkin lymphoma patients is with a drug called PLX-3397.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Supreme Court rejects challenge to pay-to-delay settlements

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to so-called pay-to-delay settlements between brand-name and generic drug companies.
The decision comes as President Obama, in his proposed budget, seeks a ban on such settlements, often called reverse payments. The administration said the ban would save $8.8 billion over the next 10 years.

IntegenX nearly doubles HQ in Pleasanton

IntegenX, a company focused on molecular biology and biotechnology, has expanded its space to 29,500 square feet in the Hacienda Business Park in Pleasanton.

Exelixis to sell 14.4 million shares

Striking while its drug is hot, Exelixis Inc. could raise around $160 million by selling nearly 14.4 million shares from a previous shelf registration of stock.

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab draws 21 proposals for second campus

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab received 21 proposals for where to plant a potential second campus.
The lab issued its request for proposals in January with a deadline of March 4. The RFP calls for a site that can accommodate up to 2 million square feet of lab, office and research and development space including a 3,000 foot long building. The site must be within 25 minutes of the lab’s existing campus in the Berkeley Hills. Other criteria include proximity to transit and other amenities.
The RFP has created a major buzz among cities and developers since the second campus has the potential to facilitate hundreds of jobs and spin-offs and energize underutilized sites or sites seeking a major tenant.

Jazz Pharma earns $24M in Q4, $33M in 2010

Jazz Pharmaceuticals Inc. earned $24.5 million in the December quarter and $32.8 million in 2010.
The Palo Alto company (NASDAQ: JAZZ) had revenue of $53.4 million in the fourth quarter, up from revenue of $38.3 million a year earlier in the same quarter, when it earned $5.7 million.

Who was Nina Ireland — and where did she get $48 million to give to UCSF?

UCSF can credit its largest-ever estate gift to road building and an unconventional woman with a familiar San Francisco story.
The estate of Nina Ireland, who died from emphysema at 67 in October, gave $48 million to the University of California, San Francisco, the school announced last week. UCSF’s press release, however, gave few clues about Ireland beyond the fact that she had made other substantial gifts to UCSF while alive. A quick Google search turned up a few more details: Ireland apparently grew up in Birmingham, Ala., attended secondary schools there and in Chatham, Va, and attended Rollins College in Florida.
But where did that money originate and how did someone of Ireland’s means avoid the limelight afforded well-heeled San Francisco names like Hambrecht, Hellman, de Young and Robertson?

Breathe Technologies device cleared by FDA

A portable ventilator made by Breathe Technologies Inc. has been cleared for use at home by the Food and Drug Administration.
The San Ramon company is now prepared to start selling its product. It’s planning to move to Southern California this year to be close to “a number of major respiratory and sleep apnea device manufacturers.”

Accuray to buy TomoTherapy for $277M

Accuray Inc. has agreed to buy TomoTherapy Inc. in a cash and stock deal worth approximately $277 million, the company said Monday.
Sunnyvale-based Accuray (NASDAQ: ARAY) will pay $4.80 per share in cash and stock for TomoTherapy (NASDAQ: TOMO), which markets cancer-radiation therapy systems.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Intel-GE health monitoring device gets FDA green light

Intel-GE Innovations LLC has won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to market a new in-home health monitoring system, the company announced Friday.
FDA approval of the Intel Health Guide Express brings the product closer to commercial availability, which is targeted for the second quarter, said Aaron Duerksen, general manager of disease management for Intel-GE Care Innovations.

Cardica device gets European OK

Cardica Inc. has received CE Mark certification in Europe for a surgical cutting and stapling device, the company said early Friday.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cerus loses $2.6 million in Q4, $16.9 million in 2010

Blood filtering systems company Cerus Corp. in Concord lost $2.6 million in the December quarter and lost $16.9 million in 2010.

InterMune IPF drug wins European approval

InterMune Inc. received approval from for Esbriet, its treatment for the fatal lung-scarring disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bayer foundation gives $540,000 for STEM center at Cal State, East Bay

The philanthropic arm of Bayer Corp. will give more than a half-million dollars to California State University, East Bay, to create a Bay Area center for science, technology, engineering and math at the school’s Hayward campus.

European Commission OKs Avastin for one use, rescinds it for another

The European Commission approved the use of the world’s best-selling cancer drug, Avastin, in combination with paclitaxel as a treatment for women with metastatic breast cancer, but rescinded its use with docetaxel.