West Wireless Names CEO, Amylin Pharmaceuticals Awaits FDA Deadline, Life Technologies In Cancer Research Partnership, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

3/11/10

Things were hopping over the past week in San Diego. Get into the rhythm here.

—San Diego’s West Wireless Health Institute named Donald Casey chief executive officer. Casey was formerly worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson’s comprehensive care group. The Institute was founded last year with a $45 million gift from telemarketing and communications entrepreneurs Gary and Mary West.

Tocagen raised nearly $7.8 million in a Series D round that began Feb. 2 and another $3 million from the sale of preferred shares. The San Diego biotech is working on gene therapies for cancer.

Sapphire Energy scientists were part of research team that demonstrated the feasibility of using algae to produce commercial levels of therapeutic proteins. Sapphire cofounder Stephen Mayfield of UC San Diego believes algae will reduce the cost of producing certain biotech drugs.

—San Diego-based Trius Therapeutics, which is working on an antibiotic for MRSA infections, postponed its plan to go public. The company said it needed time to get clarity on new FDA guidelines that will affect clinical trials for its experimental drug.

Medical device startup ImThera Medical is testing an implanted electronic device for sleep apnea. The device transmits a steady electric current that causes the tongue muscle to tighten and pull away from the upper airway. Trials are taking place in Europe.

Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS), a Carlsbad, CA-based biotech earned a $6 million payment from Bristol-Myers Squibb for getting clearance from regulators to begin clinical trials of a new cholesterol-lowering drug.

Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE) the Carlsbad, CA-based maker of gene sequencing instruments and lab supplies, is joining with two partners—the Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute and U.S. Oncology in Woodands, TX—to sequence the genomes of 14 women with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Neurocrine Biosciences (NASDAQ: NBIX), the San Diego biotech company developing treatments for neurological and endocrine disorders, raised gross proceeds of about $20 million in a stock offering.

Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: [ticker:AMLN]]) and partners Waltham, MA-based Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS) and Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) are awaiting the March 12 deadline for an FDA decision on their application to market a once-weekly version of the diabetes drug exenatide (Byetta).

Acadia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACAD) and partner Biovail (NYSE: BVF), a Canadian biotech, provided an update on the development plans for the experimental drug pimavanserin.

Cardium Therapeutics (NYSE Amex: CXM) raised $5 million from institutional investors in a direct offering, according to a press release.

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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