Sunday, March 25, 2012

Affymax, MAP drug approvals would net royalty bounty for Nektar

Nektar Therapeutics Inc. could help its bottom line — and move closer toward paying off debt — by doing almost nothing Monday and Tuesday.
San Francisco-based Nektar (NASDAQ: NKTR) is in line for royalty payments if the Food and Drug Administration on Monday approves an acute migraine drug from MAP Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: MAP) and partner Allergan Inc. It would collect more royalties if an anemia drug from Affymax Inc. (NASDAQ: AFFY) and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. is approved Tuesday.
Both drugs use know-how developed by and licensed from Nektar.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Slideshow: Dare to fail, Genomic Health boss tells Women in Bio's new SF chapter

Kim Popovits was speaking to 150 women launching the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Women in Bio Thursday night, but her message was appropriate for both genders: build relationships, trust the people around you and dare to fail.
The chairman, president and CEO of Redwood City cancer diagnostic test developer Genomic Health Inc. (NASDAQ: GHDX) told a rapt audience at UCSF’s Mission Bay Conference Center that along with a board of directors at Genomic Health, she has her personal board of directors. Those are people who she’s watched how they treat people or make decisions or raise their families.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

AtheroMed raises $4.5M

AtheroMed Inc. has raised $4.5 million, according to a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.
The Menlo Park-based company sold equity, options, warrants and securities to raise the funds. The company is developing treatments for peripheral arterial disease.

Talon leukemia-fighting drug wins FDA panel recommendation

Talon Therapeutics Inc. won a tight recommendation from an FDA advisory panel Wednesday that the agency approve the San Mateo company’s drug for a group of leukemia patients.
The Food and Drug Administration’s oncologic drugs advisory committee voted 7-4, with two members abstaining, to say that the benefits of Talon’s Marqibo outweighed the risks for patients with adult Philadelphia chromosome-negative acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients.
A recommendation by the advisory committee doesn’t guarantee that the FDA will approve the drug, especially after such a slim vote, but the vote does put Talon’s (OTCBB: TLON) drug only one step away from approval.

Myoscience grabs $33M, targets Europe for cold therapy for wrinkles

Aesthetic medical device company Myoscience Inc. scored $33 million in a Series D financing and said it expects another $12 million tranche.
The Redwood City-based company, one of a cluster of Bay Area drug and device companies focused on the personal care and vanity markets, will use the cash from the Series D round to sell its focused cold therapy, or FCT, in Europe to treat forehead wrinkles.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nektar moving 30 research jobs to S.F.

Thirty research jobs will shift to San Francisco by July from a Nektar Therapeutics Inc. facility in Alabama, the company said Tuesday.
The move, the San Francisco-based drug developer (NASDAQ: NKTR) said, will consolidate all of its U.S. research and development work — biology, chemistry and clinical development — at its 102,283-square-foot Mission Bay location. After the move is complete, the San Francisco site will house about 230 employees.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Anthera lays off 45% of workforce, focuses on lupus

Two years after raising $32 million in an initial public offering, Anthera Pharmaceuticals Inc. said last week that it will cut about 17 jobs after shutting down a trial for a late-stage inflammation drug.
The Hayward company (NASDAQ: ANTH), which had 38 employees at the end of last year, said it would eliminate 45 percent of its jobs. It will focus on a lupus drug, called blisibimod, which is in a Phase II trial, the company said in a press release.

Versant Ventures names Guido Magni as venture partner, expands in Europe

Versant Ventures said Monday it has appointed Dr. Guido Magni, a scientist and biopharmaceutical clinical development expert, as a venture partner.
The Menlo Park-based venture capital firm said the move is expected to further strengthen its investment team and expand its biotechnology footprint in Europe and other countries. Magni plans to invest in innovative startups as part of Versant’s strategy to fund first-in-class health care technologies.
The firm has $1.6 billion in capital under management.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Three more years: Pfizer, QB3 extend, expand collaboration

Pfizer Inc. is reupping a three-year, $9.5 million research collaboration with the University of California’s QB3 institute, but this time it is bringing money for startup life sciences companies to the table.
The world’s largest drug marketer and the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3, are expected to announce Friday that they will renew and expand the deal, which has led to 22 joint projects at UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz. One project was licensed by Pfizer.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shire to buy drug developer FerroKin for up to $325M

Irish drug developer Shire will pay $100 million upfront and up to $225 million in milestone payments for a small, virtual company started by an adjunct scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute.
FerroKin BioSciences Inc., launched by Dr. Hugh Young Rienhoff Jr. in 2007, is working on a once-daily oral capsule to treat chronic blood transfusion patients who suffer from iron overload. Such iron buildups in patients with sickle cell anemia, thalassemia or myelodysplastic syndrome increase the risk of heart, liver or other organ failure.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Merck unit, Numerate ink heart drug design deal

A subsidiary of drug giant Merck and Numerate Inc., a San Bruno company tapping algorithms in drug design, will work together to find potential drug leads for a cardiovascular disease.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Slideshow: QB3, Canada find common ground with entrepreneurs

QB3 took an early step Tuesday toward becoming — as director Regis Kelly calls it — “a United Nations of entrepreneurship.”
Canadian Ambassador to the United States Gary Doer and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee cut a ceremonial ribbon opening the Canadian Technology Accelerator at Genentech Hall on the Mission Bay campus of the University of California, San Francisco.
OK, so maybe the deal isn’t on a par with another big international accord signed in San Francisco 67 years ago, but Kelly and Douglas Crawford, QB3’s associate director, say the Canadian venture could be the first of several deals with other countries.

As cash dwindles, Bionovo lays off 90% of staff, plans stock sale

Bionovo Inc., which last week laid off more than 90 percent of its workforce, said Monday that it will net $740,000 by selling 14.2 million shares of its common stock and warrants.
The Emeryville-based drug developer (Pink Sheets: BNVI) said the sale of its stock, which closed Monday at 6 cents per share, will raise about $427,000. It also will receive about $344,575 if all the warrants are exercised for cash by March 30 into nearly 11.5 million shares of stock at 3 cents each.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Big shift ahead for biotech

Technology could completely redefine how the American public handles health care, and it could happen a lot sooner than you might expect.
The shift could start within a decade, panelists said at a discussion on “what will biotech look like in 10 years?” Friday at Calbio 2012.
See also: Biotech's battle: Rebuild industry for next wave of drugs

Sniffing out investments, Medivation to sell $175M in notes

Medivation Inc. hopes to raise about $175 million through a convertible senior note offering.
The San Francisco-based drug developer (NASDAQ: MDVN), whose stock has shot up more than 300 percent since it disclosed results of a successful Phase III trial of a prostate cancer drug in November, said Monday it could use proceeds of the offering to invest in other products, technologies or businesses.
Medivation said in a press release that it mainly will use the money for working capital and to fund further development and potential commercialization of its drugs.

One-on-One with Simone Fishburn of Women in Bio's new Bay Area chapter

At one of those many after-hours cocktail parties during the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in January, Simone Fishburn stopped me in a hallway.
As two caricaturists sketched party-goers a few feet away, Fishburn, a scientific consultant and former director of translational research at Nektar Therapeutics Inc., told me more about her latest venture: the San Francisco chapter of Women in Bio.
I had been hearing rumblings about a local chapter over the past few months, so Fishburn, the chair of the local chapter, filled me in about the group and what they hope to do. Fine, I said, call me when this gets going full force — and then she made me sit for one of the caricaturists.
Well, now is the time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Video: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at California biotech conference

Heavy on general policy but short on specifics, California Gov. Jerry Brown addressed the first statewide biotech industry conference Friday.
It was a marked departure from the administration of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who largely ignored public acknowledgement of the state’s biotech sector.
In the San Francisco CalBio 2012 meeting -- sponsored by the Northern California biomed trade group BayBio and BIOCOM, its Southern California counterpart -- Brown said that during his previous stint as governor from 1975 to 1983 he vetoed legislation that would have restricted the work of Genentech Inc. and the young biotech industry.

Canadians ink deal for QB3 incubator space

(San Francisco Business Times subscription required.)
Canadians are accelerating toward QB3.
The Canadian government is renting four spaces in the digital health incubator of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, or QB3, on the Mission Bay campus of the University of California, San Francisco. But it may be only the first of several formal deals between the institute and foreign governments.
The Canadian Technology Accelerator, supported by Richa Wilson, the trade commissioner for the Canadian consulate in San Francisco, is designed to give a handful of the country’s early-stage life sciences companies an entrĂ©e into the United States, provide access to QB3’s services for startups and introduce them to venture capitalists and angel investors.

Napo rainforest drug surrounded by legal vines

(San Francisco Business Times subscription required.)
Lisa Conte’s dream of tapping rainforest plants to create human drugs may be about to emerge from the legal jungle.
Crofelemer, a highly purified form of red, sappy bark latex from an Amazonian tree, could be approved in early June by the Food and Drug Administration to treat diarrhea in AIDS patients on antiretroviral drug therapy. Her Napo Pharmaceuticals Inc., based in San Francisco, has said the drug eventually could hit hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales.
Approval would seemingly cap a 20-year journey wending through a handful of partnership deals, failed trials and a bankruptcy filing by Conte’s earlier company, Shaman Pharmaceuticals Inc
But Napo and Conte will have to cut through legal filings — in large part instigated by Napo — for the company to bring crofelemer to market.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Enrollment in BioMarin late-stage rare disease trial swells

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. completed enrollment in a 176-patient late-stage study of a drug designed to treat patients with the lysosomal storage disorder MPS IVA.
Novato-based BioMarin (NASDAQ: BMRN) said patients with the disorder, also called Morquio A Syndrome, have been enrolled at 31 sites in 17 countries.
Results of the Phase III study are expected in the fourth quarter, and BioMarin expects to file a new drug application in first-quarter 2013.

Layoffs hit NeurogesX after FDA rejects pain patch for HIV patients

NeurogesX Inc. will cut 57 percent of its workforce after the Food and Drug Administration Wednesday rejected the use of the company's Qutenza pain patch for some HIV patients.
The San Mateo company (NASDAQ: NGSX) said the restructuring will lower its quarterly cash burn to $5.5 million to $6.5 million in 2012. The move comes as NeurogesX expects lower revenue from Qutenza and as it hopes to push another pain treatment, NGX-1998, through a Phase III trial by the end of the year.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gilead four-in-one HIV drug passes another test

Gilead Sciences Inc.’s four-in-one quad pill for AIDS patients was as effective as its own three-in-one drug Atripla, but perhaps just as importantly didn’t increase cholesterol levels to the same levels.
The once-a-day pill from Foster City-based Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD) combines emtricitabine and tenofovir, which make up the Gilead therapy Truvada, and elvitegravir, which Gilead licensed from Japan Tobacco Inc., and a Gilead-developed booster called cobicistat.

Myelin Repair Foundation clinical trial to target multiple sclerosis

The Myelin Repair Foundation said it is fostering a clinical trial targeting a potential therapy to benefit multiple sclerosis patients.

FDA rejects plan to expand use of Astex blood cancer drug

The Food and Drug Administration Tuesday rejected an attempt to expand the use of the blood cancer drug Dacogen, developed by Dublin’s Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc.
An FDA advisory panel last month recommended that the agency not approve the application by Eisai Co., which markets the drug in the United States.

Gilead deal takes hit as 2 more hepatitis C patients relapse

Two more hepatitis C patients relapsed after they stopped taking an experimental drug that was the keystone of Gilead Sciences Inc.’s recent $11 billion acquisition of Pharmasset Corp.
The news means that eight of 10 patients in the trial of the oral drug, called GS-7977, relapsed within four weeks of treatment, Reuters reported Tuesday from the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Biotech's battle: Rebuild industry for next wave of drugs

Maybe it’s overdramatizing to say it feels like we’re passing through history, but as a number of Bay Area biopharma companies approach the cusp of drug approvals, it feels like we may not pass this way again.
It’s something to consider as the state’s biomedical industry players meet this week for the CalBio 2012 conference in San Francisco.
Maybe it’s my limited experience, but the sheer volume of drugs from Bay Area companies that are in front of the FDA in early 2012 seems unprecedented. After watching capital dry up for four years, just getting to this point seems a victory for some companies.
But for today's small life sciences companies to deliver big-time drugs in the coming years will take a new model for funding.

Cytokinetics ALS drug wins 'orphan' status in Europe

European regulators granted “orphan” status to a potential treatment for Lou Gehrig’s disease developed by South San Francisco’s Cytokinetics Inc.
The drug, known as CK-2017357, is in a Phase II program for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a muscle-wasting and eventually fatal disease that affects 5,600 new people a year in the United States.

CytomX names Hoyoung Huh as chairman

Antibody development company CytomX Therapeutics Inc. named biotech veteran Dr. Hoyoung Huh as chairman.
The privately held company, which moved to South San Francisco after lining up $30 million in financing in 2010, is developing monoclonal antibodies that can target specific tissues in cancer, inflammatory disease and autoimmune conditions.

Xoma seeks $39.2M from sale of stock, warrants

Antibody drug developer Xoma Corp. would raise $39.2 million by selling nearly 29.7 million shares plus warrants.
Berkeley-based Xoma (NASDAQ: XOMA) on Tuesday priced the common stock and warrants to buy one-half of a share of common stock for each share purchased at $1.32.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Xoma to sell stock to pay for clinical trials, layoff costs

Xoma Corp. will sell an undisclosed amount of its common stock and warrants, the Berkeley antibody drug developer said Monday.
Xoma (NASDAQ: XOMA) will use money from the sale to fund a shotgun full of clinical trials -- not including a late-stage trial tied to a drug it bought in January -- as well as to cover costs related to recent layoffs and to continue its preclinical programs.

Friday, March 2, 2012

From Hart to heart: Grateful Dead drummer, Gladstone Institutes work to find the sounds of cardiac cells

Mickey Hart is taking the Gladstone Institutes on a long, strange trip.
The Grammy-winning drummer with iconic hippie rock group the Grateful Dead is teaming with Deepak Srivastava, the head of San Francisco’s Gladstone Institute for Cardiovascular Research, in an effort to discover the sounds that cells make.
For Srivastava and other Gladstone scientists, the collaboration could help them discover if there’s a difference between the sounds of healthy cells and unhealthy ones. Converting the heart’s electrical activity into sound, Srivastava said, could give researchers and clinicians another tool for developing drugs that return them to a healthy rhythm or detour illness.