VentiRx Pharmaceuticals Raises More Funds, Genzyme Declares a Truce, Adventrx Charts Comeback, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

1/14/10

A flurry of financing deals made it a good week for San Diego’s life sciences industry. Get the highlights here.

VentiRx Pharmaceuticals, which is working on drugs for allergies and cancer, raised additional funds of $25 million, bringing the total received in its Series A round to $51.6million. The company is based in San Diego and Seattle.

Tandem Diabetes Care, a San Diego-based company developing insulin pumps for diabetics, has raised $52.3 million in a round of equity financing that began last May. Venture-based Tandem hasn’t revealed much about its new pumps. The company’s website says the equipment will enable diabetics to remain active.

—Bruce had an interesting chat with Keith Murphy, CEO of Organovo, a San Diego-based startup using modified inkjet printer technology to build human tissue from living cells. Murphy says the company’s ultimate goal is to build livers, kidneys and other vital organs for transplant patients, but immediate plans call for engineering blood vessel grafts for patients with peripheral artery disease.

—Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ) entered into a “mutual cooperation agreement” with San Diego-based Relational Investors, a $6 billion activist investment fund and owner of about 4 percent of Genzyme stock. Late last year, Relational co-founder Ralph Whitworth began to publicly call for changes at the Cambridge, MA-based biotech. Although Whitworth praised Genzyme’s appointment of former Schering-Plough executive Robert J. Bertolini to its board in early December, he called for “significant further improvements” in the board’s composition.

—San Diego-based Quidel (NASDAQ: QDEL) which makes medical diagnostic tests used at the point-of-care, is paying $130 million in cash to acquire Athens, OH-based Diagnostic Hybrids, a privately held maker of medical diagnostic tests for hospitals and laboratories.

— Adventrx Pharmaceuticals (AMEX: ANX) boss Brian Culley talked with Bruce about the company’s remarkable reversal of fortune. Investors are optimistic about ANX-530, a reformulated chemotherapy drug for cancer.

—Life Technologies (NASDAQ: [[ticker:LIFE]) the Carlsbad, CA-based provider of biomedical diagnostic equipment and laboratory supplies, has agreed to acquire AcroMetrix, a diagnostics controls specialist based in the Bay Area community of Benicia, CA. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

SG Biofuels, a San Diego-based company focused on producing biodiesel and feedstock substitutes from the seeds of the Jatropha shrub, formed a strategic alliance with Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE) the Carlsbad, CA-based maker of genetic diagnostic equipment, laboratory instruments, and other biotech supplies. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

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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