The life sciences industry was focused on the west coast, not the east, this week. Virtually all of the industry’s movers, shakers, and wannabes were at the 31st Annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco Jan 7-9. My colleague Luke Timmerman will be combing his notebooks for features from this premier industry meeting for weeks to come, but there was plenty of news made at the meeting, some of it by companies near the Atlantic.
—Biopharma companies always love to announce deals at JP Morgan, and this year was no different. Cambridge, MA-based BIND Biosciences of Cambridge, MA had one of the biggest: Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) of Thousand Oaks, CA, will invest as much as $180.5 million, and possibly more in future product royalties, under a joint drug development effort using the startup’s nanomedicine technology. BIND CEO Scott Minick told me that the deal represents a validation for nanomedicine and predicts other large pharma companies will now move into the field.
— Foundation Medicine, also in Cambridge, announced at the meeting that Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner joined a $13.5 million expansion of its Series B financing. Foundation is developing genomic technology to improve cancer care.
—Another Cambridge startup, Lotus Tissue Repair, used the meeting to announce that it was acquired for an undisclosed sum by Shire (NASDAQ: SHPG), an Irish firm with a large operation in Lexington, MA. The startup is backed by prolific Boston VC firm Third Rock Ventures.
—-Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE) of Carlsbad, CA, announced at JP Morgan that it is forming a new company with Boston Children’s Hospital, called Claritas Genomics, to develop next generation genomics-based diagnostics. Claritas is majority-owned by Boston Children’s and will combine the expertise of the hospital’s staff with Life Technologies’ genomic sequencing technology.
—Life sciences did go on outside of San Francisco. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), based in New Brunswick, NJ, scored a win with canagliflozin, one of a new class of drugs for Type 2 diabetes that increases the amount of glucose secreted in the urine. A committee of outside experts convened by the FDA voted 10 to 5 on Thursday to recommend FDA approval of the drug A year ago the FDA delayed its decision on a similar drug, dapagliflozin, from Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) and Astra Zeneca (NYSE: AZN), asking for more information. Dapagliflozin was approved in Europe in November but the J&J drug now has the lead in the U.S. An FDA decision is due by the end of March.
—-And back in Massachusetts, health IT firm Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN), based in Watertown, announced on Monday that it will buy Epocrates (NASDAQ: EPOC), a mobile medical app company in San Mateo, CA, for $293 million in cash.