Life Wants Ion Torrent for Fast Gene Sequencing, Biogen-Idec Takes On Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Two Biotechs Move Toward IPOs, & More San Diego Life Science News

8/19/10Follow @bvbigelow

Whatever happened to the lazy “dog days of summer?” The past week was busy with life science news, with a lot of deals and other developments. Here’s our summary:

—Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE), in a bid to gain a competitive advantage in the market for fast and cheap gene sequencing, acquired Ion Torrent Streams of Guilford, CT, and South San Francisco, CA, for $375 million in cash and stock. Ion Torrent could get another $350 million in cash and stock if it can meet certain technical milestones through 2012. Game on!

—San Diego’s Cypress Bioscience (NASDAQ: CYPB) disclosed in a regulatory filing that one of its independent directors, Jean-Pierre Millon, has resigned. The director’s departure comes while Cypress Bio has been trying to hold off Ramius Value and Opportunity Advisors, which made an unsolicited $160 million buyout offer that Cypress has repeatedly rejected.

—Weston, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) landed a deal with Knopp Neurosciences to develop an experimental drug for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Biogen, which has significant operations in San Diego, provided $20 million in an upfront payment to Pittsburgh-based Knopp, and purchased $60 million in Knopp stock. Knopp also could get another $265 million in Biogen payments tied to drug development goals.

—San Diego-based Allylix, which raised $9 million in venture funding in April, has launched its first terpene product—called nootkatone. It’s a flavor-fragrance that could be described as essence of grapefruit. As Allylix introduces new products to market, it’s gaining visibility as the latest of a new kind of startup that is using biotechnology to make “renewable chemicals” that take the “petro” out of petro-chemicals.

—I profiled San Diego’s Zogenix, which has raised $199 million since it was founded four years ago, and won FDA approval for its combined migraine drug and needle-free delivery system in mid-2009. Zogenix says its DosePro device is a faster and simpler method for subcutaneous injections than existing hypodermic needles and other devices.

—San Diego’s Prometheus Laboratories has amended the IPO registration it has had on file with government regulators since 2007. The specialty pharma and diagnostics company has not priced its shares, but is expected to raise somewhere between $100 million and $150 million.

—I talked with Ken Widder, the San Diego-based partner in San Francisco’s Latterell Venture Partners. He told me the firm doesn’t usually take management positions in the companies it helps create. But Widder said the partners have extensive operating experience and bring lots of practical talent to the startup boards they sit on. Widder, for example, has founded seven life science companies, holds 30 patents or patent filings, and has authored or co-authored 25 scientific papers.

—San Diego’s Reva Medical, which has been developing bioabsorbable medical stents, has filed for a $63 million IPO on the Australian Stock Exchange.

—San Diego’s Biocept, which has been adopting micro-fluidic technology to the field of cancer diagnostics, has raised $2.3 million of a planned $7.1 million round of equity funding.

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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