San Diego Biotechs Raise Cash for Novel Drugs to Treat Cancers, Broad Disease Spectrum

3/2/10Follow @bvbigelow

A number of biotechs and medical device companies in the San Diego area have disclosed funding deals in recent weeks. As I noted last month, San Diego-based ProActa raised about $1.1 million to continue its anti-cancer drug development work. I found some more deals while reviewing filings submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission:

Auspex Pharmaceuticals of Vista, CA, continues to raise modest amounts of funding in its quest to develop deuterium-based analogs of clinically validated drugs in multiple therapeutic areas. The company says its technology replaces metabolically-sensitive hydrogen atoms with “heavy hydrogen,” a non-radioactive isotope, to create novel therapeutics with “very attractive product profiles.” After raising $3 million in August, a recent SEC filing shows that Auspex has returned to raise $2 million from promissory notes and warrants that can be converted into shares of preferred stock. Auspex, which was founded in 2001, raised almost $13.9 million in a Series B venture round from Thomas, McNerney & Partners, CMEA Ventures, and Costa Verde Capital. The concept is similar to an idea being pursued by Lexington, MA-based Concert Pharmaceuticals.

Aethlon Medical (OTCBB: AEMD) has raised $600,000 from an unnamed investor, according to a recent SEC filing. The investor provided $300,000 in cash and a $300,000 loan to acquire 660,000 shares of Aethlon’s common stock. The San Diego-based company has been developing a blood purification device, the Hemopurifier, as a broad-spectrum therapy against infectious viral pathogens. In October, Aethlon formed a subsidiary, Exosome Sciences. The company says Exosome Sciences will run tests to see if the Hemopurifier also is effective in capturing exosomes that are secreted by solid tumors, lymphomas, and leukemias to suppress the patient’s immune response.

Tocagen, a San Diego biotech developing gene therapy treatments for terminally ill cancer patients, has raised $3 million by issuing almost 1.6 million shares of preferred stock priced at $1.90 a share, according to a regulatory filing. Tocagen says on its website that its drug development efforts are focused on two deadly types of cancers, glioblastoma multiforme (a type of brain tumor), and malignant melanoma (a type of skin cancer).

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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