Verdezyne and Cardium Therapeutics Get Funding, Illumina Fires New Volley in Patent War, a New Stem Cell Technology Surfaces, and Other San Diego Life Sciences News

10/22/09

Word that several San Diego companies successfully raised funds punctuated an otherwise light week for life sciences news here. A rundown of the highlights:

—Synthetic biology company Verdezyne received a $1.7 million Small Business Technology Transfer grant to develop mutant gene libraries for its computational and bioinformatics programs. The Carlsbad, CA startup, previously named CODA Genetics, is focused on biofuels and “industrial biotechnology,” but says its libraries also can be used in biotech.

—Cardium Therapeutics (AMX: CXM) said it completed a $6 million financing from the sale of stock and warrants to select investors, with proceeds of $5.5 million to the company. Cardium is focused on the acquisition and development of biomedical products and its portfolio includes companies developing products for tissue repair and cardiovascular indications.

—La Jolla Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: LJPC) scheduled an Oct. 30 shareholder vote on a plan for dissolution and liquidation. It estimates shareholders will receive between 2.8 cents and 4.5 cents a share.

—Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) and its Solexa subsidiary countersued Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE) and its Applied Biosystems subsidiary as the legal battle between the two gene-sequencing powerhouses heated up. Illumina and Life have charged each other with patent infringement.

—A team of Scripps Research Institute scientists, including Sheng Ding, a scientific co-founder of Fate Therapeutics, discovered a new technique for reverting adult stem cells into an embryonic state. The research was sponsored by Fate and reported in Nature Methods.

—Wall Street might not be impressed, but Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS) CEO Stanley Crooke tells Luke that he puts mipomersen, the Carlsbad, CA, biotech’s lead drug candidate, in the same category of successful drugs as cisplatinum chemotherapy for cancer and cimetidine (Tagamet) for heartburn.

—Ardea Biosciences (NASDAQ: RDEA) presented more data on its experimental gout drug at a medical meeting in Philadelphia. The company said it is pleased with RDEA 594’s safety profile. Ardea sees potential in the drug as an add-on to existing gout treatments, or an alternative for patients who can’t tolerate existing medicines.

Denise Gellene is a former Los Angeles Times science writer and regular contributor to Xconomy. You can reach her at dgellene@xconomy.com Follow @

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