Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stanford nabs top researcher from Duke

Stanford University’s School of Medicine has hired a top researcher at Duke University as the new chair of its Department of Medicine, which includes 220 faculty members in 14 divisions.
Robert Harrington, M.D., currently heads Duke’s Duke Clinical Research Institute, considered the world’s largest academic clinical research organization, Stanford officials said Jan. 31. He will assume the new position July 1.

Entelos adds senior management

Entelos Holding Corp. said Tuesday it has hired Mark Hovde as vice president of sales and marketing and Will Frederick as CFO.
The San Mateo-based company provides in silico modeling and simulation products and services that help pharmaceutical and consumer product companies make informed decisions in their product development process.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tria Beauty files to raise up to $86M IPO

Tria Beauty Inc. registered with regulators Monday for an initial public offering worth up to $86.25 million.
Pleasanton-based Tria Beauty makes cosmetic devices that use light to treat the skin. They’re meant for consumers to buy and use at home, rather than at a medical office.
Tria’s devices include a hair removal laser that was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration in 2005 for prescription use and then in 2008 for over-the-counter sales. The company also got FDA clearance in 2010 for over-the-counter sales of a blue light device meant to reduce acne.

Genentech skin cancer drug with deep Bay Area ties wins early FDA approval

A skin cancer drug aimed at stopping the disease from using the so-called hedgehog pathway was approved by the Food and Drug Administration more than a month ahead of schedule.
Vismodegib, a once-a-day capsule that will be marketed by South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc. as Erivedge, was approved for use by patients with basal cell carcinoma that has spread to other parts of the body, has returned after surgery or cannot be treated with surgery or radiation.
The drug was worked on by Genentech and Lexington, Mass.-based Curis Inc. (NASDAQ: CRIS), but its Bay Area roots run deep. Labs at the University of California, San Francisco, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and Stanford University worked on the drug.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Varian secures $77M order in Saudi Arabia

Varian Medical Systems Inc. said Thursday it has booked a $77 million order with Saudi Particle Therapy Centre LLC. The order is for equipping a new proton therapy facility at the King Fahd Medical Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The Palo Alto-based medical device maker (NYSE:VAR) is expected to provide the new center with its branded ProBeam system for five treatment rooms ad two branded TrueBeam medical linear accelerators. Its proton therapies help to treat certain types of cancer.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Veracyte thyroid test gets boost with Genzyme deal

When biotech drug developer Genzyme Corp. said Friday that it will market a thyroid nodule analysis test, South San Francisco-based Veracyte Inc. got a big boost.
Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, Genzyme’s promotion means the Afirma test from Veracyte will get higher visibility. Genzyme, which was bought last year by French drug developer Sanofi, markets Thyrogen for patients with well-differentiated thyroid cancer.
After a Johns Hopkins study last year found that Afirma’s use could save money for the health care system, I spoke with Veracyte co-founder and CEO Bonnie Anderson.

ChemoCentryx sets $14-$16 range for IPO

ChemoCentryx Inc. on Monday set a target range of $14 to $16 for its initial public offering.
The target at the top of the range would bring in $64 million, slightly less than the $69 million the Mountain View biopharmaceutical company filed for back in October.
ChemoCentryx, focused on the treatment of autoimmune diseases, inflammatory disorders and cancer, said it plans to offer 4 million shares. At the mid-point of the proposed range, its market value would be $555 million.

Monday, January 23, 2012

AirXpanders raises $10 million

AirXpanders Inc. has raised $10 million in a Series D round of funding.
The round included $7 million from a new investor, Vivo Ventures, and $3 million from existing investors GBS Venture Partners, Prolog Ventures, Heron Capital and Western Technology Investment.

UCSF heads $25M NIH study to find genetic roots of epilepsy

The University of California, San Francisco, is leading a $25 million National Institutes of Health-funded study to seek the genetic roots of epilepsy, UCSF said Monday.
UCSF and its research partners will use the NIH funding over the next five years to sequence DNA from 4,000 people with epilepsy -- one of the world’s most common neurological diseases -- with UCSF getting more than $4 million
(See my June 2010 story of UCSF's epilepsy research.)

A closer look at Lawrence Berkeley Lab's new second campus

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab expects the first phase of its proposed second campus in Richmond to be up and running by 2016.
The lab announced Monday that it had selected the Richmond Field Station to house the second campus, which could include up to 2 million square feet of office, lab and research and development space.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Desmond-Hellmann: UCSF wants new structure, transparency around fund flows, IP, more

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann is proposing a new structure for her school, loosening the relationship between the healthcare-centric, graduate-level university and the University of California Office of the President.
San Francisco Business Times biotech and education reporter Ron Leuty spoke Friday with Desmond-Hellmann about her plan. Here are parts of that conversation.

UCSF plan to separate from UC system is a start, not an end

These are tough times, and UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann knows that as much as anyone else.
So Desmond-Hellmann told the University of California Board of Regents on Thursday that she’d like to see its chief medical school split off from the rest of the UC system. With such a move, UCSF largely could pocket the $49 million that it now spends to help the rest of the UC system, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Of course, UCSF also would be able to hold on to the money it makes from its various ventures.
Call it bold. Call it audacious. Just don’t call it “secession,” Desmond-Hellmann reportedly told the Chronicle earlier.
We’re all in this together, right?
Except, perhaps, when times are tough.

Fluidigm's lead dog makes his 'storm move'

Fluidigm Corp. has cut through the slush of a withdrawn IPO — and no one may be better suited to drive it forward than CEO Gajus Worthington.
Worthington, who spent part of his formative years in Alaska, as a youth competed in the 1986 Junior Iditarod. It’s the teen version of the famous stamina-sapping 1,000-mile dog-sled race through the Alaskan wilderness.
Worthington now mushes a 220-employee South San Francisco company that develops instruments for analysis. Trying to chart the 13-year-old company’s growth to a $76 million IPO finally completed last year, he has cited to Fluidigm employees the story of his dog-racing hero, Libby Riddles.

Prenatal test market soars on new tech

For years, the maternal medicine industry has been waiting for a test that can accurately screen fetuses for genetic conditions, without the need for an invasive amniocentesis.
“Everyone’s told me it’s the holy grail of prenatal testing,” said Winny Tan, an analyst at Mountain View-based Frost & Sullivan.
Now, the holy grail is here. A slew of companies, including some local ones, are beginning to commercialize their products and raise substantial amounts of funding to create simple blood tests to detect conditions such as Down syndrome. The tests could someday replace amniocentesis procedures, which carry a risk of miscarriage. It’s also creating a competitive space in a $1.3 billion prenatal testing market.

Nektar's drug diversity may be its strength

When Howard Robin took over as president and CEO of Nektar Therapeutics Inc. in early 2007, the company was based in San Carlos with a high payroll and, essentially, one product in the form of the inhaled insulin drug-device Exubera.
Since Pfizer Inc. pulled Exubera later that year, Nektar (NASDAQ: NKTR) has moved to San Francisco, shed workers, cut expenses and developed several programs, ranging from breast cancer to pain.
I take a look at one of those drugs, NKTR-181, in a print edition story in the Jan. 20 issue. But the real story here is Nektar’s ongoing metamorphosis from “the inhaled insulin company” to one with the proverbial multiple shots on goal in multiple diseases.

SF State master's program links business, science

With the help of a $700,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, San Francisco State University in 2010 launched a professional science master’s degree. The program combines training in business and science and includes internships with Bay Area companies.
Four students — three with NSF fellowships and one funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine — graduated from the program in December. Samantha Kubeck is a research associate at Nodality Inc. in South San Francisco; Adam Harvey is a researcher at SanBio Inc. in Mountain View; Casey Haynes is a scientist/business consultant with BetaStem Therapeutics Inc. a San Francisco stem cell therapy startup; and Joy Chananukul works for Cellerant Therapeutics Inc. in San Carlos.
Two additional students who started the program in 2010 but did not receive fellowships are finishing their internships and will likely graduate in May. Nine students began classes in fall 2011.
Lily Chen, professor of biology and director of the professional science master’s program in biotech/stem cell science, spoke recently with San Francisco Business Times biotech and education reporter Ron Leuty about the program.

High court ruling pushes schools to secure patent rights

Pressed by a Supreme Court decision that could cost universities billions of dollars in royalties, institutions are fine-tuning their intellectual property agreements with researchers.
The short-term impact of these new forms, which assign IP rights to research institutions, is a few lost minutes to sign on the dotted line. The long-term affect, one expert argues, could cripple innovation in a range of fields, including drug development.

Nektar high on development of new opioid

After the pain of its past, it’s fitting that Nektar Therapeutics Inc. looks to a new-style pain-killer as a salve.
The San Francisco drug developer, jarred four years ago by partner Pfizer Inc.’s sudden decision to kill Nektar’s lead product, expects to start a Phase II trial by the middle part of 2012 of the first new pain-fighting opioid in several years.

Executive Profile: Jonathan Thomas, chairman of CIRM

San Francisco Business Times subscription required.
Jonathan Thomas — or J.T., as he’s known around the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine — came to the state’s stem cell research funding agency in June with a unique blend of experience. He’s a lawyer, investment banker and biologist who’s adept at maneuvering around the halls of government and the nonprofit world. He founded Saybrook Capital, an investment bank that did early-round financing in 2000 for stem cell company Advanced Cell Technology, and as the chairman of CIRM’s oversight board is responsible for overseeing an agency ultimately backed by $3 billion in state bonds.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stem cell agency inks pact with Scotland

California’s stem cell research funding agency signed a memorandum of understanding with Scotland, it said Thursday.
It is one of a number of such agreements with government agencies by the San Francisco-based California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The deals don’t lay out specific financial terms but are meant more to develop closer ties between CIRM-funded researchers and others worldwide.

UCSF finishes 2nd to Johns Hopkins in 2011 NIH research funding, with $533 million

UC San Francisco received $532.8 million in research funding last year from the National Insitutes of Health, placing it second to Johns Hopkins University, officials said Thursday.
The two major biomedical research centers typically finish the year in that order or close to it, but UCSF boasts that it once again had the best NIH funding total of any public U.S. university, finishing ahead of University of Michigan ($467.4 million) and the University of Washington ($455.8 million).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gilead hires Roy Baynes to lead oncology unit

Gilead Sciences Inc. said Wednesday it has hired Dr. Roy Baynes as its senior vice president, oncology therapeutics.
The Foster City-based biopharmaceutical company (NASDAQ:GILD) said Baynes is expected to report to Norbert Bischofberger, executive vice president, R&D and chief scientific officer, in his new role.

DiaDexus hires new chief financial officer

DiaDexus Inc., which makes medical tests, hired Jean-Frédéric Viret as chief financial officer.
Viret, who was CFO at XDx Inc., another medical test maker, since December 2009, starts work Feb. 1. His salary will be $300,000 and he gets a $25,000 signing bonus, too.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bayer, Onyx colorectal cancer drug shows modest improvement in survival

A colorectal cancer drug under development by Bayer HealthCare modestly improved overall survival in some of the sickest patients in a late-stage trial, partner Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Tuesday, and Bayer will seek Food and Drug Administration approval of the drug this year.
The median overall survival of patients on experimental regorafenib was 6.4 months. That compares to five months for patients who were given a placebo.
Onyx called the finding, released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s gastrointestinal cancer meeting in San Francisco, statistically significant. But critics appeared less than wowed by the small improvement.

Xoma cuts deal for hypertension drug, potential combo products

Xoma Corp. bought the U.S. rights to the hypertension drug Aceon — sold as a low-cost generic since 2009 — and up to three late-stage drug candidates that combine Aceon with other active ingredients, the Berkeley company said Tuesday.
Xoma (NASDAQ: XOMA) paid $1.5 million upfront in third-quarter 2010 to acquire the license from French drug maker Les Laboratoires Servier, it said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Tuesday.

Genentech commits $95M to Constellation Pharma epigenetics, chromatin programs

Genentech Inc. will pump $95 million into Constellation Pharmaceuticals Inc., a company focused on epigenetics and chromatin in cancer and other diseases.
Epigenetic research focuses on changes in gene expression that can be passed on to the next generation but do not change underlying gene sequences. Chromatin is the combination of DNA and proteins in the nucleus of a cell.
Under terms of the deal, Genentech committed funding of $95 million, including an upfront payment and research funding over three years. Constellation will be eligible for development and commercialization milestone payments as well as up to double-digit royalties on commercial sales of products taken to market by Genentech.

After failed trial, Pfizer, Medivation shut down Alzheimer's drug program

Dimebon is done.
The experimental Alzheimer’s disease drug from San Francisco-based Medivation Inc. (NASDAQ: MDVN) failed a late-stage trial, the company said Monday, and Medivation and partner Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) said they will discontinue development in all diseases.
Dimebon’s demise also will shut down another ongoing study of the small, green tablet in Alzheimer’s patients.
Dimebon failed a high-profile Alzheimer’s trial in 2010 and a late-stage trial in Huntington’s disease last year.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cervel Neurotech raises $3M

Cervel Neurotech Inc. of San Mateo has raised $3 million, according to a regulatory filing Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company, formerly known as NeoStim Inc., uses deep brain neuro-modulation technology licensed from Stanford University.

Scenes, thoughts from the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference

If the Occupy Wall Street folks wanted to shut down biotech’s biggest wheeling-and-dealing session, the 30th annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, couldn’t they just contact the San Francisco fire marshal?
The Occupy movement supposedly was the reason J.P. Morgan asked the Westin St. Francis for additional security for the conference this week. Badge-checkers were at their usual stations inside the hotel but also were moved outside of the hotel, creating more logjams than usual on the sidewalk along Union Street.
Folks staying at the hotel had to show their room keys, so the security crush significantly cut down “clock tower” meetings in the hotel’s lobby. Coupled with the unusually good January weather, Union Square became the preferred chat-up locale, to the point that the park was overrun by posses of (mostly) men in black suits.
All in all, the mood seemed less dreamy, more serious. Even last year, life sciences companies still in shock from the financial crisis seemed like zombies: “Must focus portfolio … arrrrrgh … Be virtual … ugh.” They walked the talk, but they didn’t really seem to mean it. This year, the companies indeed were focused, their milestones tangible.

Medivation bounces back with new drug, new lease

The second time may be a charm for Medivation in downtown San Francisco.
Nearly two years ago the San Francisco biotech terminated a 63,817-square-foot lease at 345 Spear St. following a disappointing Phase III trial for Dimebon, the Alzheimer’s drug the company was developing with Pfizer. Now Medivation has a new promising drug ­— this one a late-stage cancer drug — and a big new lease to go along with it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lawrence Berkeley Lab boss Alivisatos wins chemistry prize

Paul Alivisatos, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, won the Wolf Foundation Prize in Chemistry for 2012.
Alivisatos, who took over from Steven Chu after the former director went off to become U.S. Secretary of Energy, is an expert on nanochemistry. He shares this year’s prize, which includes $100,000, with Charles Lieber, a nanoscience expert at Harvard University.
Alivisatos won for development of colloidal inorganic nanocrystal, considered a building block of nanoscience.

Entelos completes recapitalization, raises funds

Entelos Holding Corp. said Wednesday it has completed a recapitalization and raised an undisclosed amount of funding.
The San Mateo-based firm said it provides in silico modeling and simulation products and services, which enable pharmaceutical and consumer product companies to make informed decisions in the product development process.
The funding was led by Santa Monica-based private investment firm Clearlake Capital Group LP, and included participation from existing investor, New York-based private investment firm Imperium Partners Group LLC.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Aria Diagnostics raises $52.7M in oversubscribed round

Aria Diagnostics Inc. said Tuesday it has raised $52.7 million in an oversubscribed Series C round of funding.
The San Jose-based molecular diagnostics company, formerly Tandem Diagnostics, said new investors included Palo Alto-based Meritech Capital Partners and an undisclosed mutual fund group. They were joined by existing investors Venrock, which has an office in Palo Alto, and Domain Associates.

InterWest adds Visiogen founder Zadno to medical devices team

InterWest Partners added Dr. Reza Zadno as a venture partner to its medical devices team. The Menlo Park-based venture capital firm specializes in technology and life science investments, the venture capital firm said Tuesday.

UCSF, Sanofi launch $3.1M pilot diabetes drug project

UCSF and drug maker Sanofi will work together in a $3.1 million pilot project to identify drug targets both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
It is the third to come out of a master agreement in January 2011 between the French company and the University of California, San Francisco. Research groups are working together in brain trauma and oncology as well.
In the diabetes deal -- bringing together researchers at Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) with scientists in the UCSF labs of Michael McManus, Matthias Hebrok and Dr. Michael German -- will focus on insulin-producing cells, called beta cells, that are destroyed in type 1 diabetes and often produce too little insulin in type 2.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Canaan Partners raises $600M for tech, healthcare ventures

Canaan Partners raised a $600 million fund, the Menlo Park-based venture capital firm said Monday, targeting technology and healthcare companies.
About two-thirds of the fund will be geared to digital media, consumer Internet, enterprise, mobile and communications companies in the United States, India and Israel. The remaining third will be split between biopharma, medical device and healthcare infrastructure companies, with about half of the healthcare investments tied to drug developers.

Lawrence Berkeley Lab hires UCLA expert for Molecular Foundry

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory lured a UCLA chemist to run the lab’s Molecular Foundry nanoscience research center.
Omar Yaghi started work Jan. 3 at the laboratory on the hill above the University of California, Berkeley, campus. He also joined U.C. Berkeley’s chemistry department.

DiaDexus Q4 revenue up 48 percent

Medical test maker diaDexus Inc. reported $4.9 million in fourth quarter revenue, up 48 percent from a year earlier.
That pushes the South San Francisco company (OTCBB: DDXS) to about $16.4 million in revenue for 2011, which is 39 percent higher than its revenue for 2010.

Bayer targets Mission Bay incubator, partners

Bayer HealthCare is diving into the Mission Bay incubator business, hoping to parallel the success of nearby startup havens and, perhaps, snag a long-term partner or two in the process.
The drug developer, which in late 2010 set up its U.S. innovation center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay biotech enclave, said Monday that it would create a 6,000-square-foot incubator this summer to house three or four companies.

GSK to seek approval of Theravance lung drug

GlaxoSmithKline will seek approval of the COPD drug Relovair in the United States and Europe in mid-year, and it and partner Theravance Inc. will continue to talk to regulators about also using the drug for asthma patients.
The news initially appears to be a win for South San Francisco-based Theravance (NASDAQ: THRX), which co-developed the drug with GSK, after Astellas Pharma last week returned the antibiotic drug Vibativ to Theravance. But Theravance stock dropped Monday after GSK said it is investigating reports of fatal pneumonia in an undisclosed number of patients on the highest dose of Relovair.
That is not the dosage for which GSK (NYSE: GSK) will seek approval.

Friday, January 6, 2012

BioMarin leases 120,000 square feet for new HQ in San Rafael

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. signed a 10-year lease for 120,000 square feet in the San Rafael Corporate Center and will move 100 or more employees into the space, the company said Friday.
Bob Purcell, a spokesman for the Novato-based company (NASDQ: BMRN), said it completed the lease deal Friday for a full building and two floors of another building.

Astellas returns superbug-fighting drug to Theravance

Astellas Pharma Inc. ended its partnership Friday with South San Francisco’s Theravance Inc. around the antibiotic Vibativ.
The decision ends an up-and-down partnership between the companies, including production problems at a contractor manufacturer in Ohio in November that halted manufacturing and caused a shortage of the drug.

Jazz closes up more than 9% on brighter profit outlook

Jazz Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s stock closed Friday at $45.39 per share, up 9.49 percent.
The jump comes following the Palo Alto-based specialty pharmaceutical company (NASDAQ:JAZZ) saying Thursday it is expecting a larger profit in 2012, following its purchase of Azur Pharma Ltd. The deal witth Azur is expected to close the week of Jan. 16.
It also said sales of its narcolepsy drug, Xyrem, have done well.

PacBio hires Michael Hunkapiller as Hugh Martin steps down as CEO

Pacific Biosciences President and CEO Hugh Martin stepped down and will be replaced by Michael Hunkapiller, the Menlo Park-based life sciences equipment maker said Friday.

Martin, a cancer survivor who led PacBio (NASDAQ: PACB) through its $200 million initial public offering in October 2010, will remain on PacBio’s (NASDAQ: PACB) board through the company’s next annual shareholders meeting, the company said.

PacBio started shipping its next-generation DNA sequencing system in April, but in September laid off 130 employees after disappointing initial sales.

Tiny Avalanche eyes Genentech's Lucentis

A big-time eye drug could come in a small package from Avalanche Biotechnologies Inc.
The San Francisco biotech startup last month started enrolling patients in its first human trials of a treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. That could put the company on the path to challenge Genentech Inc. and a handful of other companies developing drugs to halt the weak, leaky blood vessels that cause wet AMD.
(San Francisco Business Times subscription required.)

Dealmakers seek to reset biotech clock at J.P. Morgan conference

As biotech companies and financiers focus on the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference — the most important industry confab for deal hookups — it is clear that the crazy days of unconstrained optimism have given way to a reality of mergers, acquisitions and sighs.
More than a quarter of the 43 Bay Area companies that presented at the conference in January 2008 have closed, been sold or merged over the past four years. What’s more, 17 of the 27 surviving publicly traded companies have seen their stock price fall, some more than 90 percent
(San Francisco Business Times subscription required.)

Prenatal testing company Natera raises $20M

Gene Security Network Inc., a Redwood City-based preconception and prenatal genetic testing company, completed a $20 million financing round and changed its name to Natera Inc.
Lightspeed Venture Partners of Menlo Park led the round, Natera said Friday, joined by Claremont Creek Ventures of Oakland and Sequoia Capital of Menlo Park.
The cash will help Natera launch a non-invasive prenatal diagnostic test for Down syndrome and other genetic conditions as well as allow it to expand a key National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Revent Medical raises $3.5 million

Revent Medical Inc. raised $3.5 million of a potential $8.5 million offering, according to a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.
The early-stage Cupertino medical device company sold equity to raise the funds.

Geron hires new CFO after awarding bonus to outgoing CFO

A second Geron Corp. executive who had received a six-figure 2011 bonus late last month has left the drug-development company.
Menlo Park-based Geron (NASDAQ: GERN) said Thursday that it hired Graham Cooper as chief financial officer and executive vice president of finance and business development. Cooper most recently was chief financial officer at Orexigen Therapeutics.
Cooper replaces David Greenwood, who also served as president and, for seven months last year, interim chief executive officer. When John Scarlett was named CEO in September, Geron said that Greenwood would remain with the company through the end of the year.

Geron exec leaves with severance, consulting package

Jane Lebkowski, one of four Geron Corp. executives to pull down six-figure bonuses late last month, left the company Dec. 31 with $368,500 in severance pay, 12 months of health care coverage and an extension on exercisable stock options.
Lebkowski, the Menlo Park-based company’s chief scientific officer, also entered into a two- to five-month consulting agreement with Geron (NASDAQ: GERN) that will pay $400 per hour, according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Xoma shifts manufacturing to contractor, cuts 84 jobs

Xoma Corp. will cut 84 jobs — about one-third of its workforce — as the Berkeley-based drug developer shifts much of its manufacturing to a contractor.
Xoma (NASDAQ: XOMA), which officially took “interim” off CEO John Varian’s title, said Thursday that it will eliminate 50 jobs immediately and cut the other 34 jobs by the end of the first quarter.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Xoma lands $10M loan, moves legal HQ from Bermuda

Xoma Corp., which at the close of 2011 switched its corporate home from Bermuda to Delaware and changed its name from Xoma Ltd., lined up a $10 million loan deal with GE Capital’s healthcare financial services unit.
GE Capital also received warrants to buy 263,158 shares of common stock, exercisable at $1.14 per share.

VistaGen investor cancels $4M note, warrants for preferred shares

Stem cell drug development company VistaGen Therapeutics Inc. worked out a deal with a key investor to avoid a $4 million debt repayment due later this year.
South San Francisco-based VistaGen (NASDAQ: VSTA) said Platinum Long Term Growth VII LLC agreed to retire a $4 million convertible bridge note, payable June 30, and warrants to buy nearly 1.6 million shares of VistaGen common stock. In exchange, Platinum received 391,075 shares of newly created Series A preferred stock on Dec. 29.

NeurogesX picks former Poniard boss as president, CEO

Former Poniard Pharmaceuticals CEO Ron Martell replaced the retired Tony DiTonno as president and CEO of pain treatment developer NeurogesX Inc.
Martell’s base salary is $460,000, compared to a 2010 base salary of $440,214 at Poniard. He also will receive an annual target performance bonus at NeurogesX of 50 percent of the base and an option to buy 500,000 shares.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

VCs take little solace in 2011 exits

While the numbers show a fourth quarter surge in exits over the dreadful third quarter, and a not-too-bad year for venture capital-backed companies, investors aren’t yet feeling optimistic about the state of venture capital.

Iridex to sell skin treatment unit to Cutera for $5 million

Iridex Corp. agreed to sell its cosmetic skin treatment unit to Cutera Inc. for $5.1 million.
This unit of Mountain View-based Iridex (NASDAQ: IRIX) makes lasers to treat age spots and veins in people’s skin, and also to treat acne and remove hair. Iridex has a separate ophthalmology business not included in this sale -- that unit makes laser treatments for serious eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Vivo Ventures closes $375M fund aimed at health care

Vivo Ventures LLC closed its seventh fund after raising $375 million.
The Palo Alto firm plans to invest the money in drug and medical device companies in the later stages of development in the United States. It also plans to put money into healthcare companies that are already bringing in revenue in China.