Sequenom Starts Over After Purge, Patent Lawsuits Flying Over Gene Sequencing Technologies, Zogenix Prepares for Needle-Free Injections, & More San Diego Biotech News

10/1/09Follow @bvbigelow

Sequenom had the big story for San Diego’s life sciences community this week. We have the latest developments about that, as well as other biotech news.

Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM) now faces a long rebuilding process after the San Diego medical diagnostic company ousted president and CEO Harry Stylli and a senior vice president of research and development over mishandled data in the development of a prenatal test for Down Syndrome. Five others also left the company after a five-month internal investigation invalidated studies that said Sequenom’s test, which uses a simple blood draw from pregnant women, was 100 percent accurate at detecting Down’s in a developing fetus. Now those tests will have to be re-done.

A legal dispute over genetic-sequencing technologies and products is beginning to look more like a free-for-all. Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE) has filed a patent suit against San Diego rival Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) which is already engaged in similar litigation with Affymetrix (NASDAQ: [[ticker:AFFX) of Santa Clara, CA.

—San Diego-based Zogenix has collected $36 million in a $51 million equity financing round intended to fund the company’s January launch of its needle-free system for delivering a pain drug for migraines. Zogenix says its delivery system releases a quick increase in pressure to penetrate the skin and then injects liquid medicines—without needles.

Fate Therapeutics CEO Paul Grayson says the San Diego biotech startup is in advanced talks about partnerships with several large pharmaceutical companies about partnerships. Luke says the fast-growing company is using genetically engineered proteins and small molecule compounds to nudge ordinary adult cells into becoming pluripotent stem cells, which have the potential to turn into any cell type.

—Juliet Singh knows how to rub it in. Singh, who oversaw efforts to Irvine, CA-based Allergan (NYSE: AGN) to get FDA approval for botulinum toxin (Botox), is now the CEO of Transdel Pharmaceuticals, a La Jolla, CA-based company. Transdel intends to develop ketoprofen, a common pain reliever used in pills, into a topical cream.

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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