Anadys Moves Hepatitis C Drug Ahead on its Own, Intellikine Casts a Broad Net, Sequel Pharma Raising $8.4M, & Other San Diego Life Sciences News

8/20/09Follow @bvbigelow

It’s been relatively slow for San Diego life sciences news, except for a flurry of funding deals for local drug development companies. Get the scoop on who’s getting money, along with some biotech profiles and more.

—CEO Steve Worland of San Diego’s Anadys Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ANDS) says the company has stabilized following some mercurial advances and declines in the price of its shares. Whether or not Wall Street has been overreacting to Anadys’ announcements concerning its experimental drug for treating hepatitis C, Worland has put his efforts to find a drug development partner on hold. Instead, he’s cut payroll and raised more than $16 million so the company can carry out the next stage of its drug development plan on its own.

—One of the most ambitious life sciences startups in San Diego nowadays is Intellikine, a two-year-old drug development company that has raised $28 million this year of what could be as much as $51 million in venture capital. Intellikine co-founder and CEO Troy Wilson told Luke Intellikine company is developing drugs to block what’s known as the PI3 kinase pathway, reactions that control cell proliferation, migration, and survival. It’s a hot area because researchers have shown the pathway is involved in both cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Several life sciences companies in the region have been busy raising capital, according to some recent filings with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission. Vista, CA-based Auspex Pharmaceuticals, which specializes in the emerging field of deuterium modification, says it raised $3 million in warrants and promissary notes that can be converted to shares of preferred stock. San Diego-based Palkion, which is developing drugs to treat anemia, has raised $2.5 million from investors. And San Diego-based Sequel Pharmaceuticals, which is developing drugs to treat a type of irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation, has raised about $3 million of a planned $8.4 million round.

—Seattle biotech consultant Stewart Lyman submitted a national post that describes how the life sciences industry has entered the era of biologics—genetically engineered protein drugs made in living cells. Lyman says Big Pharma views the development of new biologics-based drugs as a smart move because generic versions of biologics-based drugs are expected to raise more concerns among regulators than generic copies of their traditional small-molecule treatments. That means generic versions of biologics appear more likely to withstand competition from generics that has done so much to undermine sales of conventional drugs.

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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