Friday, August 31, 2012

Medivation prostate cancer drug wins FDA approval

Medivation's David Hung.
A prostate cancer drug from Medivation Inc. was approved Friday by the Food and Drug Administration. Under the brand name Xtandi, the drug's approval came three months sooner than expected for metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer that has spread or recurred. The approval represents a victory for San Francisco-based Medivation (NASDAQ: MDVN), not only for coming in ahead of the planned Nov. 22 decision date but also because Medivation only two years ago tumbled on the late-stage failure of its experimental Alzheimer's disease treatment Dimebon.

Targeting Gilead, AIDS Healthcare Foundation seeks S.F. referendum on HIV drug prices

Gilead CEO John Martin.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation wants a San Francisco referendum to push city officials to negotiate prescription drug prices. The proposed November 2013 ballot measure from the Los Angeles-based foundation calls for the city to "employ all opportunities that the municipal government possesses to bring down the price of prescription drugs," including negotiating with individual drug makers. The initiative is fueled, however, by Monday's Food and Drug Administrationapproval of a four-in-one, once-a-day HIV treatment from Gilead Sciences Inc., called Stribild, and the FDA's approval last month of Gilead's Truvada as the first drug to prevent the AIDS virus. The proposed ballot measure, which would require the foundation to collect more than 9,700 signatures, is the latest salvo in the AHF's war on Foster City-based Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD), the world's leading HIV drug developer.

Biotech a possible reuse of Potrero power plant site

(San Francisco Business Times subscription required for full article.)
San Francisco’s top developers are lining up for the chance to turn what was once one of California’s dirtiest energy generators into one of the city’s most promising development sites. Genon Energy Services LLC, formerlyMirant Corp., has issued a request for qualifications to at least 50 national and local developers that might be interested in acquiring the now-defunct Potrero power plant — a 22-acre central waterfront site that brings with it huge potential as well as environmental headaches. The site could be redeveloped for offices, institutional use or biotech space.

Mapping the human political genome

(San Francisco Business Times subscription required for full column.)
As the 2012 presidential election season heats up to near-tropical temperatures, voters are listening to the candidates, weighing the issues and shedding their sweaters. On Nov. 5, the first Tuesday of the month, but certainly not the last, engaged citizens will march to their neighborhood polling places on their own free will and cast their votes according to their genetic codes. “Wait,” you say, “don’t you mean ‘according to their conscience’ or something like that?” No, I do not. A new report from the Land Down Under — or, more succinctly, Australia — concludes that genetics play a role in personal politics. Whether it is a leading role, a supporting role or a cameo appearance remains a subject of debate. “Hold on,” you say, “you’re telling me that my politics, like my eye color, are in my DNA?”

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

FDA takes Exelixis cancer drug off advisory group agenda, approval date stays Nov. 29

Exelixis Inc.'s experimental cancer drug cabozantinib has been removed from the agenda of a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee meeting, the company said Wednesday, but the drug's potential approval date has not changed. Cabozantinib is the first drug from South San Francisco-based Exelixis (NASDAQ: EXEL) to get to this point in the approval process, but it is unclear whether the FDA's decision to remove it from the agenda of the Nov. 8-9 Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee meeting ultimately could delay a final FDA decision whether to approve the drug. The FDA's decision date for cabozantinib continues to be Nov. 29.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Medivation to take 2-for-1 split of soaring stock Sept. 21

Medivation CEO David Hung.
Medivation Inc., whose stock has soared more than 500 percent since early November, will take a 2-for-1 split of its common stock, the company said TuesdayDue to the promise of its late-stage experimental prostate cancer drug enzalutamide, the San Francisco-based drug developer (NASDAQ: MDVN) has seen its stock rise to a 52-week high of $103.89, from $16.10 per share less than 10 months ago.

Transcept, partner sue to protect new sleep drug from generic competitors

Transcept CEO Glenn Oclassen.
Four months after launching a middle-of-the-night sleep drug, Transcept Pharmaceuticals Inc. and partner Purdue Pharma are facing down generic competitors. Units of Actavis Group and Watson Laboratories filed abbreviated new drug applications with the Food and Drug Administration in July to sell generic versions of Intermezzo tablets, Richmond-based Transcept (NASDAQ: TSPT) said in a Tuesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Transcept and Purdue, which sells Intermezzo, on Aug. 23 filed a patent infringement suit against Actavis in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. They filed another suit Monday against Parsippany, N.J.-based Watson.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Daniel O'Day to lead Roche Pharma as Pascal Soriot moves to AstraZeneca

Daniel O'Day.
Daniel O’Day, the former president and CEO of Roche Molecular Diagnostics in Pleasanton, will become chief operating officer of Roche Pharma as Pascal Soriot, who oversaw the tricky integration of Genentech Inc. into Roche, takes the helm of rival drug maker AstraZeneca. O’Day’s appointment is an important one, underscoring the Swiss drug maker’s commitment to developing companion diagnostics for its drugs. As COO of Roche Diagnostics since 2010, he has been a member of Roche’s executive committee. Roche CEO Severin Schwan noted in a press release late Monday night that O’Day has “a very impressive track record” in diagnostics and pharmaceuticals.

FDA extends use of NovaBay wound cleaner, new spray pump

A wound-cleaning system from NovaBay Pharmaceuticals Inc. was cleared for wider use Monday by the Food and Drug Administration. The NeutroPhase skin and would cleanser and a related spray pump from Emeryville-based NovaBay (AMEX: NBY) were cleared through the FDA's 510(k) process for medical devices. NeutroPhase consists of hypochlorous acid, a common disinfectant, in normal saline.

Pulmonx to start clinical trials for emphysema device

A Redwood City company has received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s OK to start clinical trials for a device to treat emphysema. Pulmonx’s “Zephyr Endobronchial Valve” device is already commercially available in Europe. The company said in a press release Monday that it received an “investigational device exemption” from the FDA that will allow it to start a multi-center trial in the U.S. The results from the new trial will be used for a premarket approval application with the FDA.

FDA approves Gilead's four-in-one HIV pill

Gilead Sciences Inc.'s four-in-one drug balm for HIV patients won Food and Drug Administration approval Monday. The pill, which Foster City-based Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD) will sell as Stribild, includes a new drug, called elvitegravir, and a new booster that allows elvitegravir to be given once a day. It also has two ingredients that the company already markets. Analysts have pegged Stribild as a potential $4 billion-a-year blockbuster.

Fresh off Medicare win, CardioDx lines up $58 million financing round

CardioDx Inc. lined up $58 million in a two-tranche round – about $30 million now and the remainder later this year – as it expands following recently won Medicare coverage of its heart disease diagnostic test. Singapore-based investor Temasek joined a slew of existing CardioDx backers, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & ByersMohr Davidow Ventures, TPG Biotech and GE Capital, in the financing, the Palo Alto company said Monday.

Genentech seeks approval of 'armed antibody' targeting breast cancer

Genentech Inc.’s one-two cancer-fighting punch – an antibody-drug conjugate called T-DM1 – extended the lives of women with a type of metastatic breast cancer compared to patients on another therapy, the South San Francisco-based company said Sunday. Genentech, the U.S. subsidiary of Swiss drug maker Roche, did not disclose a specific length of time by which T-DM1, or trastuzumab emtansine, extended the lives of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients over a group of patients given a combination of the drugs Tykerb and Xeloda. Genentech said it has submitted a biologics license application, which is similar to a new drug application, for T-DM1 to the Food and Drug Administration. An FDA decision on the drug could come by mid-2013. The agency in 2010 refused to consider Genentech’s application for accelerated approval based on data from a Phase II study.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Startup genital warts vaccine developer Virolab loses CEO and CFO

Virolab Inc. Chairman Ricardo Rosales will take over as president and CEO, the startup genital warts vaccine developer said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Friday, replacing James A.D. Smith. Smith, the former president and CEO of Genelabs Technologies, resigned Aug. 5 for personal reasons, according to the filing, and Chief Financial Officer Matthew Loar left Aug. 13. Its executive vice president of regulatory affairs and quality,Mohammed Salem, left the company in January to become vice president of global regulatory coordination at Fresenius Medical Care in Waltham, Mass.

Theravance, GSK to start approval process for COPD drug by end of year

Theravance CEO Rick Winningham.
Theravance Inc. and partner GlaxoSmithKline wrapped up clinical trials around a drug that the companies could start submitting for regulatory approval later this year for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The once-a-day drug — called UMEC/VI for the molecules umeclidinium bromide and vilanterol — is one in a series of treatments that GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) and South San Francisco-based Theravance (NASDAQ: THRX) hope to eventually sell to asthma or COPD patients. GSK and Theravance said Friday that they would start to submit UMEC/VI for regulatory approval "from the end of 2012."

Gilead battles AIDS group in drug spat

As Gilead Sciences Inc. nears approval this month of its four-in-one drug treatment for fighting HIV, a one-time ally has become an opponent. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which operates clinics, pharmacies and testing sites nationally, says the Quad pill from Foster City-based Gilead isn’t an improvement over current HIV drugs. What’s more, it dubs as “reckless” the recent, groundbreaking approval of Gilead’s two-in-one Truvada tablet as a way to prevent the AIDS virus. Pricing of Gilead’s portfolio of HIV-fighting drugs? Gilead should show restraint, AHF says. And while they’re at it, AHF says Gilead CEO John Martin’s compensation, which hit $15.6 million in 2011, is nothing more than "pharma greed." The foundation's issues involve the departure of a Gilead executive from the AHF board earlier this year as well as Gilead's decision to pull funding in June for two AHF programs. Perhaps most importantly, though, the campaign hasn't won AHF many friends in the AIDS patient advocacy community.

VA taps SoundCure device to treat tinnitus

SoundCure CEO Bill Perry.
Veterans who suffer from tinnitus, a “ringing in the ears” that can severely diminish a person’s quality of life, might now be able to get relief with a device made by a local company. San Jose-based SoundCure Inc.’s tinnitus therapy product, called “SoundCure Serenade,” was approved for coverage by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs beginning Aug. 15.

Peninsula biotech space feels global pharma blues

Compugen's Mary Haak-Frendscho.
The patent expirations and capital efficiency trends sweeping through the global drug industry are playing out in companies’ local real estate decisions. That direction may not bode well in the short term for landlords and developers of biotech space on the Peninsula, with large biopharmaceutical companies buying tiny biotechs and consolidating multiple, smaller locations. But a new generation of biotech companies stands ready to take bits and pieces of the newly available space.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Xoma files $100 million mixed shelf offering

Xoma Corp. filed a shelf offering Wednesday that would let it sell $100 million worth of common stock, preferred stock, debt securities and warrantsXoma plans to use the money for working capital and general corporate purposes, including research and development expenses and capital expenditures, it said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Xoma lands orphan drug status for eye disease treatment

Xoma Corp. lead drug, gevokizumab, was granted orphan drug status for an inflammatory eye disease, the company said Wednesday. Orphan drug designation, awarded by the Food and Drug Administration for experimental treatments for diseases with fewer than 200,000 patients, allows Berkeley-based Xoma (NASDAQ: XOMA) to receive tax breaks for 50 percent of the cost of its clinical trials in non-infectious uveitis and pan-uveitis and FDA fee waiver. It also would receive seven years of U.S. market exclusivity if a drug is approved.

Friday, August 17, 2012

One-on-One with Roman Reed, spinal cord injury patient advocate

Roman Reed.
The community of patient advocates is full of the most passionate, goal-oriented people you'll ever meet, and Roman Reed is near the top of the list. Reed, paralyzed in 1994 from a tackle during a Chabot College football game, has been one of the most visible advocates for stem cell research fundingthrough the San Francisco-basedCalifornia Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or CIRM. He also was a poster child for a state law passed a law in 2000 to fund spinal injury paralysis research through the state's general fund. But in the course of California's budget meltdown, desperate state officials took away the spinal cord research funds. Reed launched a new effort, resulting in Assembly Bill 1657, that would add just $1 from every moving traffic violation to fund spinal cord injury research in California. That bill, authored by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, passed the Assembly on a 46-26 vote and the state Senate is expected to vote Monday on the measure.

Relypsa raising $80 million to bring kidney drug to market

Relypsa's Gerrit Klaerner.
Kidney disease patients are caught in what Gerrit Klaerner, president of Relypsa Inc., describes as a “Catch 22.” The medicines they can take to help their kidneys also stop their kidneys from processing potassium, an important chemical element that is extremely dangerous when a person’s levels get too high or low. So they can either cut back on the medicine that helps save their kidneys, or risk high potassium levels that can cause their heart to stop. Klaerner’s company, Santa Clara-based Relypsa, is preparing to commercialize a drug to solve that problem and help kidney patients maintain proper potassium levels. 

Former S.F. developer Rosenberg steps up his Alzheimer's fight

Douglas Rosenberg.
Douglas Rosenberg is expanding his war against Alzheimer’s disease. Just 19 months after Rosenberg invested the first $3.5 million of $10 million he hopes to raise for Dale Bredesen’s research at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, the lab is on the cusp of leapfrogging a potential Alzheimer’s drug into an overseas trial this fall. Meanwhile, the 54-year-old former San Francisco real estate developer is pursuing other initiatives. He is forming a company around a combination of common supplements that research suggests could stave off Alzheimer’s. He has pulled together a group of researchers to share ideas and data. He is reaching out to other philanthropists, and he is weighing an investment in a drug-development company spun out of the work of Stanford University’s Frank Longo.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fluidigm seeks $52 million from stock offering

Fluidigm President and CEO Gajus Worthington.
Fluidigm Corp. hopes to raise $52.2 million in an offering of 3.66 million shares. The South San Francisco-based developer of lab test systems for the life sciences and ag-bio markets (NASDAQ: FLDM) priced the shares at $14.25, a 4.1 percent discount from the stock's Wednesday closing price of $14.86. By mid-day Thursday, the stock was trading at $15.45 per share.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

UCSF hires former Stanford fundraiser for development job

John B. Ford
UCSF has hired former Stanford University fundraiser John B. Ford as its new vice chancellor of university development and alumni relations. Ford replaces Carol Mosswho was in the job at the University of California, San Francisco, less than two years before leaving in spring 2011 to become vice president for medical development and vice dean for external affairs at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Ford will begin his $395,400 new job Sept. 17, overseeing a 154-person team and an operating budget of $30 million. He also will be vice president of the UCSF Foundation.

LS9 appoints ex-Genencor boss as chairman

Tjerk de Ruiter.
Advanced biofuels company LS9 Inc.appointed ex-Genencor CEO Tjerk de Ruiter as its chairman of the board. LS9's previous chairman Noubar Afeyan will remain a member of the board of directors.

Longtime biotech exec Dick Brewer dies from multiple myeloma

Richard Brewer, a longtime biotech executive who helped to build companies such as Scios Inc., Dendreon Corp. and Nile Therapeutics Inc., died Wednesday morning from multiple myeloma.

Peter Thiel's Breakout Labs funds artificial meat, cell-tracking companies in latest round

Peter Thiel.
A startup using tissue engineering to develop an edible cured meat, and another company whose technology could more easily track stem cells as they make their way through the body, won grants from a foundation started by entrepreneur Peter Thiel. The grants to the two Peninsula companies and a company from Huntsville, Ala., whose nano technology could help diagnose diseases from a single sample, compose the second round of funding from the San Francisco-based Thiel Foundation’s Breakout Labs. The awards of up to $350,000 each are aimed at helping startups get to a proof of concept that enables them to woo venture capital and other sources of capital.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dynavax hires CFO from PDL Biopharma

Vaccine maker Dynavax Technologies Corp. hired Christine Larson as chief financial officer, a new position at the company. The Berkeley company (NASDAQ: DVAX) hired Larson eight months after she quit PDL Biopharma Inc. (NASDAQ: PDLI), where she was also CFO and earned a salary of $400,000.

Prospira PainCare Holdings raises nearly $23 million of $71 million round

Pain management startup Prospira PainCare Inc. disclosed in a regulatory filing on Friday that it has raised nearly $23 million in a funding round in which it hopes to attract nearly $71 million. The Palo Alto-based company said in the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it offered equity to raise the funds.

Elan looks to spin Alzheimer's research into South S.F.-based company

Fresh from the failure of an Alzheimer's disease drug, Elan Corp. plans to spin off its South San Francisco-based Neotope research organization into a separate company. Neotope was established in 2010 to identify targets for chronic degenerative diseases and other diseases, the company said, but the spinoff depends on approval by shareholders and holders of Elan's 2016 notes. If approved, Elan (NYSE: ELN)) said, a listing for Neotope Biosciences could be on a U.S. exchange by the end of this year. The company would be incorporated in Ireland, which also is Elan's home.

Varian Medical Systems CEO to step down in September

Timothy Guertin, CEO of Varian Medical Systems Inc., will retire Sept. 28, when the company's fiscal year endsDow Wilson, 53, will become president and CEO when Guertin, 62, steps down. Wilson is being promoted from chief operating officer. Varian hired him in 2005 to run its oncology systems business.

Friday, August 10, 2012

After 10 months, PacBio chief commercial officer Michael Glynn resigns

Michael Glynn, who joined Pacific Biosciences of California less than a year ago, is stepping down as chief commercial officer. The Menlo Park company (NASDAQ: PACB) broke the news Friday in a one-sentence filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company did not say what prompted Glynn's resignation or hint at his personal plans.

Biofuel startups target revenue

Kiverdi CEO Lisa Dyson.
Biofuel and biochemical startups have wised up about market forces. Many first-generation companies that produced advanced fuels and products shot for the moon, targeting transportation fuel markets that required years of research and development as well as massive scale up and capital. Such companies included South San Francisco-based Solazyme, Emeryville-based Amyris Biotechnologies, and South San Francisco-based LS9 plus other companies such as Kior and Gevo that formed between 2003 and 2006.

Adynxx glimpses gain from no-pain drugs

Adynxx's Julien Mamet and Rick Orr.

A team that built and sold three Bay Area drug companies over the past decade is looking for a fourth. But the latest venture, called Adynxx Inc., could be a big pain. The young San Francisco company is entering its first human trial of a treatment to prevent post-surgical pain and, ultimately, chronic pain.

Genentech's Lucentis approved for diabetic eye disease

Genentech Inc.'s eye drug Lucentis won FDA approval Friday to treat diabetic patients for a blinding disease. South San Francisco-based Genentech, part of Swiss drug maker Roche, was recommended last month by a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel as a treatment for diabetic macular edema.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Should California economic development go for gold, or set stage for jobs?

Whether California's economy is broken, merely hobbled or on the road to recovery is a matter of debate, but one area in which state government has clearly failed is economic developmentJeff Gorell, a Republican Assembly member from Ventura County, thinks he has a solution. Working with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Gorell has put together what he calls "Gold Team California" to aggressively solicit out-of-state companies to move to California. It's a local effort, focused on Ventura County for now, but there's a distinct whiff of statewide politics in the air, too. If Gov. Jerry Brown and Newsom, the former San Francisco mayor, are going in different economic development policy directions -- or whether Newsom is simply trying to distance himself from unpopular Brown policies in his ultimate quest for the governor's seat -- this seems like a battleground.

One-on-One with Talon Therapeutics' Steven Deitcher

Talon's Steven Deitcher.
The generally accepted notion in the drug-development space is that it takes $1 billion or more and 10-plus years to bring a therapeutic to market. Then there's Talon Therapeutics Inc. The San Mateo company (OTCBB: TLON) won accelerated approval Thursday from the Food and Drug Administration regarding its cancer-fighting drug Marqibo. The company's accumulated deficit from its founding in December 2002 to the end of the first quarter? $210.4 million. Not that it has been easy for Talon.

Growing Nodality strikes drug-development deal with Pfizer

Nodality Inc. scored a deal Thursday to help Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drug maker, better develop drugs. The multi-year deal, financial terms for which weren't disclosed, initially will focus on autoimmune diseases, particularly lupus. Plus, Pfizer has an option to use Nodality's technology to develop companion diagnostics.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

CardioDx heart disease test wins Medicare coverage

A key national Medicare contractor will cover the cost of a coronary artery disease test developed by CardioDx Inc. The decision disclosed Tuesday by Palmetto GBA, a national contractor that administers Medicare benefits in Columbia, S.C., means that Medicare will cover the test for as many as 40 million enrollees. Coverage is retroactive to Jan. 1.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Stanford researchers launch brain cancer study using Nektar drug

A team of Stanford University researchers will test a Nektar Therapeutics Inc. drug in a Phase II trial aimed at a common and aggressive form of brain cancer, the company said Tuesday. Dr. Lawrence Recht, a Stanford professor of neurology and neurosurgery, and co-investigators Dr. Seema Nagpal and Dr. Pamela Kunz will test Nektar's etirinotecan pegol in patients with high-grade glioma whose cancer is resistant to GenentechInc.'s Avastin, or bevacizumab.

Matt Gardner joins Bay Area Council as chief business officer

The Bay Area Council has hired former BayBio boss Matt Gardner as chief business officer, a role aimed at increasing the business group's membership. Gardner in fall 2009 resigned from BayBioafter six years at the helm of the Northern California life sciences trade group. Since then, he has been involved with a number of startup and technology-focused organizations.

Pain drug developer Adynxx enrolls first trial

Adynxx founder Julien Mamet.
Adynxx Inc., led by a team that has built and sold three other Bay Area drug developers over the past decade, said Tuesday that it has completed enrollment in an early-stage drug trial that could take the pain out of surgery. The 30-person, Phase I study is the first in-human test of AYX-1, the San Francisco company’s experimental preventative treatment for post-surgical pain. The study of healthy volunteers is designed to test the drug’s safety. Adynxx leaders expect to move the drug into a 90- to 100-patient Phase II efficacy trial in the fourth quarter.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Alzheimer's drug bapineuzumab fails late-stage trial, research dropped

Bapineuzumab, one of the drug-development industry's promising Alzheimer's disease treatments, failed in a late-stage trial, dealing another blow to the Alzheimer's community of patients, doctors and caregivers. The news came on the same day as researchers from the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco said they discovered an already-approved anti-epilepsy drug that may eventually be used by Alzheimer's patients. Until then, however, bapineuzumab's second failure in four Phase III studies deals Alzheimer's patients another in a long string of disappointments. Partners Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy R&D LLC said they would discontinue their research of intravenous bapineuzumab in patients in mild to moderate stages of the disease.

Exelixis shares fall on stock, debt offering news

Exelixis Inc. plans to offer 20 million shares and $225 million in debt, the South San Francisco biotech company said Monday. The company (NASDAQ: EXEL), which could win approval in late November for its cancer drug cabozantinib, saw its stock fall 13 percent after the news. On the day, Exelixis stock lost 73 cents, closing at $4.85 per share.

Nile Therapeutics names drug-development veteran as CEO

Darlene Horton.
Nile Therapeutics Inc. named Dr. Darlene Horton, a founder of Itero Biopharmaceuticals, as president and CEO. Horton, who initially was appointed Nile's chief medical officer in June, replacesJoshua Kazam, who served as part-time president and CEO of San Mateo-based Nile (OTC: NLTX) and whose Two River Group Holdings invested in Nile. The company is developing cenderitide, a treatment for acutely decompensated heart failure patients after they leave the hospital.

Gladstone researchers find epilepsy drug that may work for Alzheimer's patients

Dr. Lennart Mucke of Gladstone and UCSF.
A drug that already curbs epileptic seizures could be used to reverse memory loss and the loss of other brain functions in some Alzheimer's disease patients, researchers at the Gladstone Institutes discovered. Although preliminary and from studies of mice, the discovery could give new hope for patients with the debilitating brain disease. Because the drug already is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for epilepsy patients, it has several years of safety data, which could fast-track in-human studies and, eventually, its approval for Alzheimer's patients.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Crescendo tries to convince insurers to pay for its rheumatoid arthritis test

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, the course of your treatment can be determined this way: The doctor looks at, squeezes and evaluates 28 joints for swelling or tenderness then plugs that information into a formula that spits out a score. So-called DAS28 tests are less than perfect, as you might guess. What's more, they are largely subjective and time consuming. It is difficult to figure out when to increase or discontinue a patient's use of the Genentech-developed RA drug Rituxan, for example, or to switch to another drug. DAS28 tests are used more for clinical trials than in clinical practice, but the leaders of Crescendo Biosciences Inc. are sure there's a better way for RA patients, physicians and the health-care system.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Solta Medical to raise $14 million in stock sale

Hayward's Solta Medical Inc. will raise about $14 million by selling stock. The company (NASDAQ: SLTM) -- born in 1996 as Thermage Inc. -- lost $26.3 million in the June quarter on sales of $37.3 million. It makes devices to treat acne or to tighten skin using radiofrequency energy and heat or lasers. It signed a commitment letter last week with Silicon Valley Bank for a $10 million debt facility.

Gilead inks deal for Indian companies for low-cost HIV drug

Gilead Sciences Inc. will work with three Indian drug makers to promote access to a chunk of its portfolio of approved HIV-fighting treatments in developing countries. Under the deal announced Thursday, Foster City-based Gilead (NASDAQ: GILD) will turn over technology to Mylan Laboratories, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. and Strides Acrolab needed to make Gilead's emtricitabine, or Emtriva.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cal's Energy Biosciences Institute starts move into new $130M building

The Energy Biosciences Institute has started to move into a newly finished $130 million building on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. The EBI is a $500 million public-private joint venture funded by oil company BP plc (NYSE: BP). EBI is a partnership between UC Berkeley, the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryAbout 300 people are moving into the building over the next six weeks. Admin staff and some laboratory programs are moving first.

Burrill hirings build out life sciences investment banking unit

Burrill & Co.'s G. Steven Burrill.
The hiring of two research analysts by Burrill & Co. builds out the life sciences-centric financial services firm’s investment banking business. Burrill, based in San Francisco, said Wednesday that it hired Reni Benjamin and Elemer Piros, formerly of Rodman & Renshaw, as managing directors of research. They join Jason Zhangwho came to Burrill last year from BMO Capital Markets.