Trius Approaches Next Stage in Drug Development, China Partnerships a Hot Topic at CalAsia, Lpath Headed to Critical Juncture, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

6/18/09Follow @bvbigelow

We all look for milestones in life, but several San Diego biotechs are approaching important junctures where they’re expected to report positive results from their drug development studies. Read on to find out which ones, and to catch up on the rest of San Diego’s life sciences news.

—San Diego’s Ardea Biosciences (NASDAQ: RDEA) reported some encouraging results last week for the drug it is developing to treat gout. A small number of patients found the drug lowered the amount of uric acid in their blood to acceptable levels within eight days. Still, Ardea is facing increasing competition, since the FDA approved Takeda Pharmaceutical’s gout drug in February and an FDA advisory panel recommended Savient Pharmaceutical’s gout treatment earlier this week.

—Trius Therapeutics CEO Jeff Stein told Luke the company plans to present full results from its recent clinical trial of a new antibiotic for treating MRSA at a conference in September. The startup also is working on a pivotal clinical trial strategy, and it is searching for a potential partner.

—San Diego’s Biocom, the life sciences industry trade group, hosted the CalAsia conference for the first time this week, and more than 300 representatives of the international biotech community attended. In a Q&A with Xconomy, Dr. Hui Cai of Inflexion BioPartners discussed the concerns that U.S. companies have about doing business in China—and China’s concerns about doing business with U.S. companies. In an e-mail yesterday, she adds, “A consensus out of CalAsia is [that] the line between U.S. and Asia certainly is becoming fuzzy. Gaps we see today in knowledge, processes, and other aspects will eventually disappear, and global standards will be established.”

—San Diego’s Lpath is nearing a make-or-break milestone in its development of sonepcizumab, an experimental cancer drug. The biotech stands to receive up to $8 million from Merck Serono for achieving performance targets related to the clinical trial Lpath is wrapping up, and an additional $31 million if the Swiss pharmaceutical company exercises an option to develop the drug.

—San Diego-based aFraxis, which is focused on developing treatments for Fragile X syndrome and autism, has raised $750,000 in early stage funding, according to a recent SEC filing. The startup is backed by San Diego’s Avalon Ventures, and Avalon’s Jay Lichter is listed as chief executive and director.

—Illumina, the San Diego biotech that provides DNA research tools for scientists, plans to offer a service that will enable consumers to get their DNA sequenced—at a cost of $48,000. As expensive as that may sound, it is half as much as the DNA sequencing service offered by Cambridge, MA-based Knome. The idea is to give patients access to comprehensive, personalized information about their vulnerability to disease.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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