Amylin Forms Global Alliance in Obesity Drug Development; TEDMED’s Show Will Go On, Sequenom Sued for Civil Fraud, & More San Diego Biotech News

11/5/09Follow @bvbigelow

TEDMED had Martha, Goldie, and other celebrity speakers, but San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals broke this week’s big news when it signed up a big Japanese partner to develop its line of obesity drugs. It’s all part of your regular dose of San Diego biotech news, and it’s ready now:

Amylin Pharmaceuticals, the San Diego-based diabetes drug specialist, announced that it has formed a partnership with Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceuticals, which agreed to carry most of the development costs for Amylin’s weight-loss drugs. In return, Takeda gets a worldwide exclusive license to eventually commercialize Amylin’s experimental obesity drugs, including the combination of pramlintide and metreleptin, and davalintide.

—After a five-year hiatus, TEDMED founder Richard Saul Wurman, and president, Marc Hodosh (who also is an Xconomist), brought the conference on medical technology, entertainment and design to San Diego’s Hotel del Coronado. TEDMED announced during the conference, which included presentations by Boston Scientific co-founder (and Xconomist) John Abele, Martha Stewart, and Goldie Hawn, that the conference will return to the same location next October.

—I only had time to attend a fraction of the presentations at TEDMED last week. One of my favorites talks, though, was delivered by Bill Davenhall, who leads the health and human services marketing team at ESRI, the Redlands, CA, giant in geographic information systems. Davenhall talked about the importance of including patients’ “place histories” as part of their medical records and raised an interesting question: Will the electronic health record systems being created today have the capability to add data in new categories—such as “geo-medicine”–that aren’t typically included in today’s patient records?

—New York-based Xenomics filed a lawsuit against San Diego-based Sequenom that alleges Sequenom misrepresented the progress in its development of a prenatal test for Downs syndrome. Xenomix says it would not have licensed its patents to Sequenom had it known the truth.

—Denise profiled San Diego-based Sirigen, an early stage medical diagnostic company that is developing technology that uses light-emitting polymers to detect bits of DNA. Sirigen founder Brent Gaylord developed the technology at UC Santa Barbara, extending the significance of UCSB physicist and Nobel laureate Alan Heeger’s discovery of conductive polymers.

—The FDA told San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AMLN) and its partner Eli Lilly the companies can now market exenatide (Byetta) as a frontline, standalone therapy for diabetes. The drug was previously approved for use with other drugs, or as a fallback option when other tretments failed.

Vertex (NASDAQ: VRTX), the Cambridge, MA, biotech with operations in San Diego, said the latest trial of its telaprevir treatment for hepatitis C was able to attain the clinical definition of a cure in more than 80 percent of patients who got the drug. The finding is part of the mounting evidence Vertex is gathering on its quest to develop the first-of-its-kind protease inhibitor for the chronic liver 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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