Calixa Gets Acquired, Pfēnex signs Merck to Licensing Deal, Local Biotechs Report From Breast Cancer Symposium, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

12/17/09Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego’s Calixa Therapeutics will be celebrating the holidays in style, after getting acquired by a Massachusetts-based company in the biggest deal of the week. Start your countdown to Christmas here with a rundown of the latest biotech news.

—Lexington, MA-based Cubist Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CBST) completed its $92.5-million buyout of San Diego antibiotic drug developer Calixa Therapeutics yesterday, just two days after the deal was announced. Under terms of the deal, Cubist could be required to make payments of up to $310 million if it meets certain milestones.

—Several speakers at our Xconomy San Diego forum on biotech innovations and innovators said that creative new ideas and synergies arise from collaborations—and that collaboration is one of the hallmarks of San Diego’s life sciences community. Other experts talked about fostering biotech innovation by focusing on unmet clinical needs, and the importance of creating a corporate culture that supports innovation.

—Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY) CEO John Maraganore gave Luke an overview of the Cambridge, MA, company’s strategy as it moves forward on a broad front in developing its RNA interference drugs. Alnylam is pursuing many opportunities through its network of partnerships with big drugmakers like Roche, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, and others. But Alnylam also is selectively retaining rights to some drug candidates, such as ALN-TTR, a drug that targets a rare disease in which a gene mutation allows excessive amounts of amyloid proteins to build up in the body

—Pfēnex, a new San Diego biotech spun out by Dow Chemical, signed an exclusive worldwide license to Merck to use its gene expression technology to develop an undisclosed protein. Pfēnex says the deal could be worth as much as $52 million.

—Denise profiled San Diego-based BeneChill, which raised $13.5 million in venture capital in July to advance its development of a battery-powered cooling device. BeneChill wants to get its technology into the hands of emergency medical technicians, so they can provide immediate hypothermic therapy to lower the brain temperature of a person in cardiac arrest.

—At the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, San Diego’s bioTheranostics says its medical diagnostics technology passed an important test when researchers found that patients who were classified as “low-risk” were, in fact, found to have only a 4 percent chance of recurrence after a decade of follow-up. Another study showed that the bioTheranostics test also was able to predict which patients had a three-fold greater likelihood of benefitting from a standard anti-cancer therapy from Novartis, called letrozole.

—San Diego’s Cytori Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CYTX also was at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium to report interim results of patient satisfaction with its breast reconstruction technology. Cytori reported 73 percent of the patients and 82 percent of their physicians expressed satisfaction with the overall outcome six months after the procedure, according to a follow-up study of the first 32 women who were treated.

Anesthesiologist Ahmed F. Ghouri told Denise he founded Anvita Health nine years ago out of frustration over medical prescription errors that were easily preventable. Anvita’s technology analyzes clinical data and electronic medical records (EMRs) to provide health care providers the information they need to avoid mistakes.

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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