Monday, October 31, 2011

NeurogesX hires Stephen Peroutka as chief medical officer

NeurogesX Inc. hired Stephen Peroutka, M.D., as chief medical officer. He replaces Jeffrey Tobias, M.D., who quit Oct. 16 but who still works as a consultant for up to $7,200 per month.
Peroutka has already started part time work at the San Mateo company (NASDAQ: NGSX) as a consultant, but will come on board full time Nov. 9.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bay Area Science Festival kicks off Saturday, continues through Nov. 6

Aiming to get kids — and even adults — excited about science, the Bay Area Science Festival kicks off Saturday with the first of more than 100 events.
Geology, biology, music, hawk banding, genetics — and that’s just day one. In all, there are more than 100 free events, including lectures, exhibitions, concerts and a science pub crawl from San Jose to Santa Rosa, through Nov. 6.
Backers of the Bay Area Science Festival — ranging from the University of California, San Francisco, and the life sciences industry trade group BayBio to Chevron and the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation — hope the festival is just the beginning of building excitement about the sciences. Many of those supporters already have been busy trying to beef up the region’s efforts around so-called STEM education, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Peter Maag exits as Novartis Diagnostics president, interim named

Peter Maag, the Emeryville-based president and global head of Novartis Diagnostics for two years, is no longer with the company.
Carsten Schroeder, who has been Novartis Diagnostics’ vice president of commercial operations for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, was named as Maag’s replacement.

Fast 100: Discovery, deals boost Five Prime's bottom line

Five Prime Therapeutics Inc. is an anomaly.
A drug-development company without any drugs on the market, South San Francisco-based Five Prime has increased revenue in each of the past three years, reaching $23.7 million last year while hitting a three-year compound growth rate of more than 52 percent.
What’s more, Five Prime expects a double-digit percentage point jump in revenue in 2011.

Medivation pins hopes on prostate cancer drug

Medivation Inc. is getting another shot with another pill.
The San Francisco-based drug developer, which lost nearly 80 percent of its value after a highly touted Alzheimer’s disease treatment in March 2010 failed a late-stage clinical trial, will receive make-or-break data on an experimental prostate cancer treatment sometime over the next nine weeks.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Drug deal gives Biogen a stake in Portola Pharmaceuticals

Biogen Idec will license a family of drugs that could treat lupus or rheumatoid arthritis from Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $36 million cash and $9 million in Portola equity.
The agreement could be worth up to $508.5 million more in development and milestone payments.
The deal links two of the biggest biotech dealmakers of the past several years, South San Francisco’s Portola and Biogen Idec’s George Scangos. Portola has negotiated deals with Novartis AG and Merck & Co. (though Merck returned the anti-clotting drug earlier this year), while Scangos cut a number of licensing deals — albeit on the other side of the fence — as CEO of South San Francisco’s Exelixis Inc.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Biotech's new normal: Innovation but no VC money, risk

If there’s a new normal in biotech — and some would argue that we’re still trying to find that base — it involves fewer people, a lot less cash, less risk taking and labs full of enthusiasm.
A few events this week in the Bay Area are pretty illustrative: the BIO Investor Forum, Peter Thiel’s new fund for off-the-grid researchers and Thursday’s QB3-Deloitte Award for Innovation.

Johnson & Johnson to fund awards for UC bio startups

An arm of Johnson & Johnson will fund University of California projects with a high potential to get to market.
The amount of money from J&J’s Corporate Office of Science and Technology was not disclosed by the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3.
The money will combine with cash from the Rogers Family Foundation of Oakland to support QB3’s Bridging-the-Gap program. The JJSI-QB3 Awards, a component of the program, will be given annually over the next three years.

Gilead, Bristol-Myers Squibb ink deal for HIV-fighting booster

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. will develop a new HIV treatment combining its protease inhibitor Reyataz and Gilead Sciences Inc.’s new boosting agent cobicistat, according to a deal announced Wednesday.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, except that Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) will pay a royalty based on annual net sales of the product.
Foster City-based Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD) already has been studying Reyataz, or atazanavir, and cobicistat, a booster that increases the levels of certain HIV-fighting medicines, in Phase II and Phase III studies.

Stem cell agency CIRM, NIH to work together in pilot project

California’s stem cell research funding agency and the National Institutes of Health signed a memorandum of understanding for a pilot project to help medical researchers prevent, diagnosis and treat a wide range of diseases.
The two groups also are looking at ways that researchers funded by the San Francisco-based agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and those supported by the NIH can collaborate in earlier translational or basic biology projects.

Bayer cancer drug does well in trial, Onyx stands to reap royalty

Two weeks after settling a lawsuit with Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc., Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals and Onyx said Wednesday that a late-stage trial of the cancer drug at the center of the suit met its main goal.
Details of the results of the 760-patient study of Bayer’s regorafenib in metastatic colorectal cancer were thin, but South San Francisco-based Onyx (NASDAQ: ONXX) will receive a 20 percent royalty on potential sales.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Peter Thiel launches Breakout Labs for startups with 'audacious ideas'

Startup guru Peter Thiel is spreading the love, announcing Tuesday that his foundation will offer $50,000 to $350,000 grants to help science and technology entrepreneurs blocked from traditional fund-raising paths.
Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and early Facebook investor, unveiled the concept — called Breakout Labs — at a speech Tuesday to the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students. The fund will have a website where advanced technology entrepreneurs can apply.
Ten or 20 high-tech, biotech, nanotech or other types of "convergence" projects could be funded next year, said Lindy Fishburne, executive director of Breakout Labs. In return, the Thiel Foundation will take a “modest” royalty on the startups’ products and a “small percentage” in warrants, Fishburne said, to fund fresh rounds of grants.

UCSF nabs $6M for seven-stage AIDS prevention project

UC San Francisco’s UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies has won $6 million in federal funding over four years to lead a seven-state effort to help HIV-AIDS patients get diagnosed and receive continuing care.
The funds come from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and its Special Projects of National Significance Program, UCSF said Tuesday. The grant is for $1.5 annually for four years.
The effort’s main goals are to improve access to care, optimize health outcomes and reduce HIV-related health disparities, UCSF said, mirroring some of the primary objectives of the national AIDS strategy. It targets individuals who haven't been tested or don't know their HIV status.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gilead strikes deal with GlobeImmune on hepatitis B vaccine

Gilead Sciences Inc. will back GlobeImmune Inc.’s hepatitis B vaccine program through Phase Ia trials and then take full responsibility of the program.
Foster city-based Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD) will pay privately held GlobeImmune of Louisville, Colo., an undisclosed upfront payment plus additional milestone payments and, potentially, royalties.

On strength of Phase III data, Exelixis looks for cabozantinib submission in first-half 2012

After a strong Phase III trial of its cancer drug cabozantinib, Exelixis Inc. expects to file for approval of the drug in a type of thyroid cancer in the first half of next year.
The South San Francisco company (NASDAQ: EXEL) said cabozantinib registered progression-free survival — or the length of time it takes for a disease to worsen — a median of 11.2 months. Patients in a placebo arm had media progression-free survival of 4.0 months.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hedge fund BVF takes 6.1% stake in Affymax

Biotechnology Value Fund has accumulated 6.1 percent of Affymax Inc., the hedge fund said in a filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
BVF, with offices in Chicago and San Francisco, said it controls 2.15 million shares of Palo Alto-based Affymax’s (NASDAQ: AFFY) roughly 35.5 million shares. BVF had not previously stated a position in the anemia drug developer.

Intarcia inks diabetes treatment deal with Quintiles

Intarcia Therapeutics Inc. will work with biopharmaceutical services business Quintiles Transnational Corp. on a once-a-year treatment for Type 2 diabetes.
Durham, N.C.-based Quintiles has 14 facilities in the United States where it helps companies with clinical testing and other aspects of the pharmaceutical business.
Hayward-based Intarcia didn’t say what it will pay Quintiles for its help.
The two will work on ITCA 650, a matchstick sized pump that is implanted under a patient’s skin to deliver a drug for a whole year. It’s aimed at Type 2 diabetes and is about to start Phase III testing.

Video: UC Berkeley dedicates Li Ka Shing biomedical research center

Philanthropist Li Ka Shing, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and a standing-room-only crowd on Friday dedicated the campus’ new Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences.
The $267 million, six-level, 200,000-square-foot facility, which will feature the University of California, Berkeley’s stem cell program on the third and fourth floors, was funded in large part with a $40 million gift in 2005 from Hong Kong businessman Li. It also received $20 million from California’s taxpayer-supported stem cell research funding agency.
“I believe that investments in higher quality education are the best investments for improving the human condition,” Li said through an interpreter.

Dynavax to get $3M in expanded deal with GSK

Dynavax Technologies Corp. added a new target to a research deal with giant GlaxoSmithKline PLC, and will get a $3 million milestone payment as a result.
Berkeley-based Dynavax (NASDAQ: DVAX) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) added a new “toll-like receptor,” TLR8, to their agreement. They plan to study TLR8 and seek an inhibitor of it to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Med devices score more VC cash than biopharmas as venture dollars rise in Q3

Venture capital investment was up in the third quarter, with investors putting $8.4 billion into 765 deals for U.S.-based venture companies, according to a new report on Friday from Dow Jones VentureSource.
For the first time since 1998, medical device companies picked up more venture financing than biopharmaceutical companies, while consumer information services — which includes online search, entertainment and social media firms — garnered $1.3 billion for 104 deals in the third quarter.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dermira raises $42M for dermatology work, buys Valocor

Dermira Inc. said Thursday it has raised $42 million in Series A funding.
The Redwood City-based company plans to use the funds for acquisition, development and commercializing dermatology-related therapeutics.
Its investors include Bay City Capital LLC, New Enterprise Associates and Canaan Partners.

WaferGen CEO Alnoor Shivji out in reorganization

WaferGen Biosystems Inc. brought in a consultant to “provide strategic guidance” and said its CEO and president, Alnoor Shivji, quit those jobs Wednesday as “part of his transition to a new role as a consultant.”
Shivji will stay at Fremont-based WaferGen (OTCBB: WGBS) as chairman and the company will pay him as a consultant. He’ll also get $262,500 in severance and his stock options have vested.
The company hired Steve Lombardi, former president and board member at Helicos BioSciences Corp. (Pink Sheets: HLCS), “to work with management and provide strategic guidance.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Slideshow: Lab building groundbreaking starts remake of Gilead campus

Gilead Sciences Inc. broke ground Wednesday on a $140 million, 192,054-square-foot research lab building, part of a massive rebuild and expansion of its Foster City campus.
The event featured a handful of Bay Area politicians, including U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) and the top brass of the HIV, hepatitis, cardiovascular and cancer drug developer.
In fact, Speier used the moment to highlight the fact that California, according to the most recent 2009 figures, received 40 percent of National Institutes of Health funds, much of that headed to the University of California, San Francisco. She then urged her state lawmaker colleagues, Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) and Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), to at least maintain state funding levels for UCSF.

Amgen layoffs to include 37 in South S.F.

Amgen Inc. will lay off 380 research and development staffers in the United States and UK, the company said Wednesday. Those cuts will include 37 in South San Francisco.
A spokeswoman called the cuts, "strategic, targeted reductions" intended to reallocate resources in drug development.

Gladstone nabs $5 million from Roddenberry Foundation for new stem cell center

The Gladstone Institutes is boldly going where few stem cells have gone before.
With the help of a $5 million gift from Roddenberry Foundation — set up to honor late “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry — the San Francisco-based J. David Gladstone Institutes will build off the stem cell work of part-time Gladstone researcher Dr. Shinya Yamanaka.
Gladstone officials scheduled a press conference for late Wednesday afternoon and did not provide details for publication prior to the event, but told the San Francisco Chronicle for a story in Wednesday morning’s paper that the Roddenberry Foundation’s gift would go toward a Roddenberry Center for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gilead breaking ground on 1st part of massive HQ campus rebuild

AIDS drug developer Gilead Sciences Inc. will break ground Wednesday afternoon on a $140 million, 192,054-square-foot R&D center on its Foster City campus.
It is the first in a major overhaul of Gilead’s longtime Lakeside Drive home that ultimately will double its footprint to 1.2 million square feet and push Gilead's local workforce from 1,700 to 3,400.
In all, plans call for razing eight one- or two-story buildings, constructing seven structures of two to 10 floors, and building one addition. The multi-year project, which Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD) unveiled in 2008, will result in a 16-building campus of up to 755,048 square feet of office space and at least 445,432 square feet of labs.

Cytokinetics to cut 18 jobs, focus on ALS trial

Cytokinetics Inc. will cut its workforce to 83 people as it focuses its cash on an experimental treatment for Lou Gehrig’s disease and a heart failure program partnered with Amgen Inc., the company said Tuesday.
Among the jobs cut was that of David Morgans Jr., the South San Francisco-based drug developer’s executive vice president of preclinical research and development. He will leave the company Oct. 31.

Johnson & Johnson, iScience sign supply deal

IScience Interventional said Tuesday it has signed a clinical and commercial supply agreement with Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development LLC and its affiliates.
Menlo Park-based iScience specializes in therapies for anterior and posterior ocular diseases. It is expected to supply microcatheters to Johnson & Johnson for cell therapy clinical trials to treat retinal degeneration.

Topica raises $27M Series B round

Topica Pharmaceuticals Inc. closed a $27 million Series B financing.
The round led by Third Rock Ventures and existing investors Prospect Venture Partners and Yasuda Enterprise Development Corp. Ltd.

Monday, October 17, 2011

ChemoCentryx refiles IPO plans, seeks to raise $69M

ChemoCentryx Inc. has refiled plans for an initial public offering to raise $69 million, according to a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Mountain View-based company, which develops oral drugs for autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases and oncology, filed for a $57.5 million IPO in 2007, but withdrew the registration citing market conditions. It had hoped to use most of the proceeds to develop treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, and for research and development of other candidates.

Sofinnova raises $440M life sciences-only fund

Amid the doom and gloom of venture investing in biotech, Sofinnova Ventures said Monday that it has raised a $440 million life sciences-focused fund.
Sofinnova's eighth fund is aimed at late-stage companies — including those spun out of drug-development programs acquired by Menlo Park-based Sofinnova — so it won’t necessarily help cash-hungry startups or other young companies. Yet Sofinnova general partner Mike Powell said the cash is earmarked for life sciences companies only.
“It’s clinically later-stage assets, but we’re the Series A investor in 80 percent of companies,” Powell said.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Berkeley Bionics changes name to Ekso Bionics

Berkeley Bionics, which makes technology to help paraplegics walk again, changed its name to Ekso Bionics this week.
The Berkeley business rebranded its line of “exoskeletons,” as it calls the wearable robots that let paralyzed people stand and walk.
A year ago, the company, started by Homayoon Kazerooni, made a splash as it unveiled its first set of mechanical legs.

Who is biotech's Steve Jobs?

Think of technology, and images of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and a handful of others pop into your head.
Social media? Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Larry Page or Sergey Brin.
Environmentalism? Al Gore.
Biotech? (crickets) Biotech?

Aduro, starting Phase II pancreatic cancer trial, sees promise in 2 'failed' cancer vaccines

Two cancer vaccines given up for dead — after killing two Bay Area biotech companies — together could breathe new life into a Berkeley company and earn a measure of redemption to boot.
Aduro BioTech Inc. of Berkeley this month dosed the first patient in a Phase II pancreatic cancer trial that uses its vaccine as a booster following a priming dose of another vaccine controlled by BioSante Pharmaceuticals Inc. Preliminary results could come as early as October 2012, but a full read on whether the combination is safe and effective likely will take years.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Depomed hot flashes drug fails in Phase III trial

Shares of drug developer Depomed Inc. tanked in after-hours trading Thursday after the company said a trial of its experimental hot flashes drug failed to decrease the number of attacks after 12 and 24 weeks of treatment.
The stock of Menlo Park-based Depomed (NASDAQ: DEPO) had closed Thursday up 22 cents at $6.28 per share, but after the company announced the results of the Phase III trial, shares were off $1.67 — or more than 26 percent — to $4.61 per share.
Depomed, however, said it would talk to the Food and Drug Administration about “possible pathways” for submitting the drug, called Serada, for approval. That meeting would likely come early next year, Depomed Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Sweeney said in a conference call Thursday afternoon.

Rules seen choking U.S. medical device makers

The most innovative new medical devices are being developed overseas because regulations in the U.S. are too strict, a panel of industry experts said Thursday at a Mountain View Chamber of Commerce “Life Sciences Summit” hosted at Fenwick & West LLP.
The panelists, including vascular surgeon and inventor Dr. Thomas Fogarty of Mountain View’s Fogarty Institute of Innovation, had some harsh words for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, though they also said they’re starting to see a turnaround.
"The FDA has finally woken up and realized what is happening," Fogarty said.
Still, he said he continuously sees companies leave the U.S., and "they're not coming back."

Amarantus secures $10M in equity funding facility

Amarantus Biosciences said it closed a $10 million equity funding facility with Centurion Private Equity.
The Sunnyvale-based biotechnology company said it will be able to draw down on the facility over the next 36 months in tranches of up $750,000.
Amarantus Biosciences is developing biologics to treat Parkinson's and other human diseases.

Amgen 'evaluating' R&D unit, changes coming to South S.F.

Amgen Inc. told workers Wednesday it will reshape its R&D unit, which could mean big changes for the biotech company’s South San Francisco operations.
A spokeswoman for Thousand Oaks-based Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) said the world’s largest biotech company is “evaluating some changes within our research and development organization to improve focus and to reallocate resources to key pipeline assets and activities,” according to the Ventura County Star.
Amgen said it would give more details on the shakeup when it reports its third-quarter financial results on Oct. 24.
The changes will cut across all of Amgen's R&D operations in the United States and the United Kingdom, a spokeswoman told the San Francisco Business Times, but she wouldn't provide detail about the moves.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Onyx drops cancer drug suit against Bayer in return for $160M payment

Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. will drop litigation against its partner Bayer for a payment of $160 million and payment of possible royalties and other money in the future.
In exchange, South San Francisco-based Onyx (NASDAQ: ONXX) dropped all its claims against Bayer Corp., Bayer AG, Bayer Healthcare LLC and Bayer Schering Pharma AG in a fight over a cancer treatment.
Technically, Bayer is paying the $160 million for rights to sell Nexavar (sorafenib), a cancer drug, in Japan, without paying royalties to Onyx. Depending on how the drug is priced in Japan, Bayer might pay Onyx $15 million more in 2012 to 2013.

DNAnexus raises $15M from Google Ventures, TPG, others

DNAnexus has closed a $15 million second round of funding led by Google Ventures and TPG Biotech, the company said Tuesday.
Also joining in the round were institutional investors First Round Capital, SoftTech VC, K9 Ventures, and Felicis Ventures.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

After strong results in one trial, Alvine readies another Phase II in celiac disease

A small trial by Alvine Pharmaceuticals Inc. indicated that its experimental celiac disease drug may reduce the effect of the intestinal disease, the company said Tuesday.
The 41-patient Phase IIa trial by San Carlos-based Alvine found that certain celiac disease patients taking ALV-003 over six weeks had less severe gluten-induced injury to the lining of their intestine.
Alvine Chief Medical Officer Daniel Adelman said in a press release that the company hopes to start a Phase IIb trial next year.

Codexis hires boss for Brazil and Latin American operations

Biofuel business Codexis Inc. hired Achilles Antonio Clement to direct its expanding operations in Latin America.
Redwood City-based Codexis (NASDAQ: CDXS) put Clement — a former DuPont employee — in charge of a new business, Codexis do Brasil Participacoes Ltda.

Startup Cleave Biosciences raises $42M to develop cancer drugs

Cancer survivor, surfer and longtime biotech executive Laura Shawver is back in the Bay Area, with a startup round of $42 million to develop cancer-fighting drugs that restore the balance of proteins in cells.
Shawver’s new company — Cleave Biosciences of Burlingame — raised the money from U.S. Venture Partners, 5AM Ventures, Clarus Ventures, OrbiMed Advisors and Astellas Venture Management LLC, the corporate venture arm of Japan’s Astellas Pharma, it said Tuesday.
With one of the largest drug-development startup hauls this year, Cleave will use the cash to discover and develop “multiple” small-molecule drugs that restore protein homeostasis, or the balance of proteins in cells. The pathways used in those processes, helping normal cells make proteins or dispose of unneeded proteins, can be hijacked by cancer cells.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Medical laser company Iridex changes CEOs

Iridex Corp. made Dominik Beck its president and CEO on Monday.
Iridex makes laser-based medical systems used in ophthalmology, dermatology and otolaryngology.

Livermore Lab wins $3.5M anthrax vaccine grant with Loyola University

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Loyola University won a $3.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a new anthrax vaccine.
This is the first grant from the NIH that focuses on a particular type of vaccine using nanolipoprotein, or NLP, technology developed at the lab.

Dynavax: Hepatitis vaccine does well in subpopulations

Dynavax Technologies Corp. said its Heplisav vaccine for hepatitis B did well in a Phase III test in so-called “hypo-responsive” groups of people, meaning men, obese people and smokers.

Friday, October 7, 2011

UCSF technology center wins $5.5M grant for new MRI research

The University of California, San Francisco, said Friday it’s been awarded $5.5 million by the National Institutes of Health to develop new magnetic resonance imaging technology.
The hope is that UCSF can help develop imaging technology that could allow radiologists to scan images of tumors and other diseased tissue more rapidly and obtain results that are more detailed than is possible with current machines.
A key is a new device that can boost an MRI’s signal more than 50,000 times, the university said.

Stanford finds targets stroke

Stanford University researchers found a potential target for limiting the devastating effects of stroke. Now they must wait and see if a drug developer takes the bait.
Like the discovery of other potential stroke treatments, the finding could prove tough to replicate in humans. That difficulty and serious side effects have proved to be barriers that have led drug-development companies to largely swear off stroke drugs.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Scios pleads guilty for misbranding heart failure drug, fined $85M

Scios Inc. has agreed pay an $85 million criminal fine, as it pleaded guilty this week to misbranding a heart-failure drug.
Scios, a Fremont-based subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), will pay the fine to the U.S. government as part of a plea agreement. Scios pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor for introducing the drug Natrecor for a use that was not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

UCSF, UC Davis join forces on $6.3M osteoarthritis research center

UC San Francisco Medical Center and the University of California, Davis, are working jointly on a $6.3 million multidisciplinary research project to study ways to predict who is likely to get osteoarthritis and how to prevent it.
The two University of California campuses are using funding from the National Institutes of Health to fund a joint translational research center on the degenerative joint disease, which often affects people in their 70s and older.

Hansen Medical executives charged with fraud

Government regulators on Thursday filed fraud charges against two former sales executives at Mountain View medical equipment company Hansen Medical Inc.
Christopher Sells, former vice president of commercial operations at Hansen, and Timothy Murawski, a former vice president of sales, allegedly participated in “multiple improper sales transactions” to inflate the company’s reported revenues, said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Slideshow: Bay Area Nobel Prize winners

The Bay Area is a virtual Nobel Prize wonderland — and it added a new Nobel laureates this week.
Saul Perlmutter of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, shared the $1.4 million physics prize for discovering the accelerating expansion of the universe by observing supernovae. At UC Berkeley, that will score him an exclusive Nobel parking space.

Gilead strikes licensing deal with Boehringer Ingelheim on new HIV drug

Gilead Sciences Inc. will license HIV-fighting drugs from Boehringer Ingelheim, including one early-stage treatment.
The deal includes an upfront payment, which Foster City-based Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD) did not disclose, and additional development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments.

Bio-Rad buys digital PCR developer QuantaLife for $162M

Life sciences research and diagnostics equipment developer Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. bought QuantaLife Inc. for at least $162 million cash, the company said Wednesday.
QuantaLife, based in Pleasanton, has developed a system for digital PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, that can help detect rare mutations.

Dynavax gets $3M in reworked asthma deal with AstraZeneca

Dynavax Technologies Corp. will receive $3 million upfront after the Berkeley drug developer and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca amended a deal to accelerate a trial on an experimental asthma treatment.

Industrial biotech jobs soar, sector asks for policy help

California biofuels companies and others in the "industrial biotechnology" sector increased employment by 632 percent over the past five years, according to a survey conducted by the state’s two largest biotech industry associations.
The boom comes from a low starting base — among the 33 companies responding to the survey, 18 had no employees in 2006 — but it highlights the state’s opportunity to capture large-scale biofuel, green industrial chemical and biomaterial production facilities as the industry develops, backers said.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Xoma returning from the Bermuda Triangle

Xoma Ltd. is coming home, sort of.
The Berkeley-based biotech company (NASDAQ: XOMA) said Tuesday that it plans to change the jurisdiction of its incorporation from Bermuda to Delaware for greater legal, administration and other efficiencies. The move also will reduce Xoma’s exposure to potentially adverse tax legislation, the company said, and avoid potential blacklisting of its common shares by some pension funds or legislation that restrict their dealings with non-U.S. companies.

SciClone to buy back $20 million in stock

SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc. will repurchase up to $20 million of its outstanding common stock over the next 24 months, the Foster City company said Tuesday.
SciClone’s stock (NASDAQ: SCLN) closed Tuesday at $3.74 per share, up nearly 7.8 percent.

New label on Genentech's Avastin warns of infertility

The world’s best-selling cancer drug, Genentech Inc.’s Avastin, now carries a warning about increased risk of infertility in premenopausal women.
The Food and Drug Administration said Avastin’s label as of Sept. 30 includes the new warning regarding “ovarian failure.” Data suggest that some women with the potential of bearing children may become infertile as a result of Avastin and should talk to their doctor before starting treatment, the FDA said.

Medical device maker CV Ingenuity raises $16 million

In its second round of venture funding, CV Ingenuity raised $16 million.
The Palo Alto company makes a medical device — a balloon that releases a drug — used to treat vascular disease.
New Enterprise Associates led the round and put Ryan Drant and Justin Klein on the board of directors at CV Ingenuity.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bayer, union reach tentative deal on 4-year contract

Union production and maintenance workers at Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals in Berkeley will receive pay raises, a freeze on the percentage of their out-of-pocket health insurance premiums and a measure of job security as part of a proposed four-year contract.
Bayer and leaders of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 6, which covers 430 Bayer employees, reached the tentative deal Friday night, said union secretary-treasurer Fred Pecker. After informational meetings, the rank-and-file will vote on the contract Oct. 12.
The previous contract expired Aug. 24 but had rolled over for the Bay Area’s only unionized biotech workforce.

Blue Shield of California to stop Avastin coverage for breast cancer

Blue Shield of California will stop paying for the use of Avastin in treating breast cancer, the New York Times reports.
A federal advisory committee in June recommended the Food and Drug Administration rescind Avastin’s approval for the treatment of breast cancer.

Xoma scores botulism grant valued at $28M over five years

Xoma Ltd. will develop a treatment for human botulism poisoning under a federal contract that could pay out $28 million over five years.

Cerus lands credit facility through Comerica

Comerica Bank will provide blood safety technology company Cerus Corp. with a $5 million, four-year term loan and another credit facility that could provide $5 million.

Sangamo stock falls after failed mid-stage trial

A study involving Sangamo BioSciences Inc.’s keystone zinc finger protein technology failed in a mid-stage study, the company said Monday.
Sangamo’s stock (NASDAQ: SGMO) was down 24 percent — or $1.04 per share — in mid-day trading after the Richmond company said it will abandon the drug, SB-509, and concentrate on using its zinc-finger technology to treat patients with the AIDS virus.