Isis Prepares Novel Treatment for Lou Gehrig’s Disease, BrainCells Is Encouraged by New Drug for Depression, Inovio Raises $30M, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

8/6/09Follow @bvbigelow

It might be the dog days of summer, but San Diego’s life sciences companies kept up a busy flow of cool news over the past week. Get your update here.

—Isis Pharmaceuticals, the Carlsbad, CA, biotech that specializes in so-called antisense technology, is getting ready to test a new treatment later this year for patients with an aggressive form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Isis (NASDAQ: ISIS) is planning the first clinical trial of a treatment known as ISIS-SODRIX, a drug designed to shut down the genetic RNA machinery that enables the production of disease-causing proteins. Luke reported the treatment also could pioneer a new way of delivering antisense drugs for a variety of neurological disorders.

—San Diego’s TorreyPines Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TPTX) has agreed to a reverse merger with Novato, CA-based Raptor Pharmaceuticals. To pull off the deal, however, TorreyPines must get its shareholders to vote to approve the deal. That sounds easy enough, but TorreyPines was unable to muster enough shareholder votes in July to approve a resolution to dissolve the company.

—A Boston-area researcher said a new drug developed by San Diego’s BrainCells Inc. could someday prove effective in treating depression. The drug known as BCI-952, which combines buspirone and melatonin, was not expected to work. But it’s getting a second look after Dr. Maurizio Fava, of Massachusetts General Hospital, presented promising results in a clinical trial of 142 patients diagnosed with major depression.

—San Diego’s La Jolla Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: LJPC) plans to seek shareholder approval for a liquidation plan. As Denise reported, the company disclosed in a recent SEC filing that it has discharged substantially all of its obligations to creditors and is working to satisfy those that remain. The biotech also said it has settled a lawsuit with former partner BioMarin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: BMRN) of Novato, CA.

—San Diego’s Inovio Biomedical (AMEX: INO) has raised $30 million from the direct sale of 11.1 million shares and 2.8 million warrants to institutional investors. Inovio is focused on the development of vaccines to prevent or treat cancers and chronic infectious diseases. The company’s delivery solutions are based on electroporation, which uses brief, controlled electrical pulses to create temporary pores in cell membranes, which makes it easier for cells to take in a useful biopharmaceutical.

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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  • Anonymous

    Inovio Biomedical’s symbol is INO, not IMO

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/bbigelow/ Bruce V. Bigelow

    Thanks for calling this to my attention. It’s been fixed. BVB

  • ray vanderhoff

    I have a friend who is 66 and has worked very hard all his life and has now been diagnosed with lou gehigs. I really want to help him with what ever i can do.. Is there anything I can do to help him? Feeling powerless….please help