Wireless Health Meeting Draws ‘A’ List Speakers, Seidel Takes the GNF Reins, Apricus Bio Raises $9.3M, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

10/7/10Follow @bvbigelow

It was a relatively quiet week for life sciences news. But we nevertheless saw some interesting developments in personnel moves and fund-raising, as some key local scientists helped start a couple of new companies, as well as in the clinical test of a new experimental cancer drug.

—The Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) has named H. Martin Seidel as the permanent replacement for the chemist Peter Schultz, who was the institute’s founding director. Seidel, who was second-in-command during Schultz’s tenure, has served as interim director of GNF since Schultz stepped down in March.

—San Diego-based Apricus Biosciences (NASDAQ: APRI), the contract research organization that changed its name last month from NexMed, said it has closed on a previously announced securities offering, raising gross proceeds of more than $9.3 million. Apricus Bio said it plans to use the proceeds for product and technology development and general corporate purposes.

—UC San Diego biologist Trey Ideker, along with Columbia University’s Andrea Califano, Stanford University’s Atul Butte, and Eric Schadt of Pacific Biosciences are pooling their resources for an unusual effort at Seattle nonprofit Sage Bionetworks. The four world-class biologists are sharing their experimental data and models on the connections between genes, proteins, drugs, and disease states into a public database at Sage, with the hope of connecting the dots between malfunctioning DNA, RNA, and proteins.

—John “Chip” Scarlett, who was once a fellow in the UC San Diego lab of Jerrold Olefsky, is now the executive chairman of Vega Therapeutics, a South San Francisco biotech with a big idea for tackling Type 2 diabetes. Scarlett told Luke the big idea that Vega is pursuing is that inflammation is one of the major culprits causing problems for people with Type 2 diabetes.

—About 400 scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and investors have been attending the Wireless Health 2010 conference this week at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. Chris Toumazou, director of the Imperial College Institute of Biomedical Engineering in London, said in his keynote talk that the human body represents the next great application for wireless technologies. The four-day meeting in La Jolla also featured talks by Segway inventor Dean Kamen, Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, and Dr. Eric Topol, who directs the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla.

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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    What an interesting statement from Dr. Toumazou re: the human body being the next frontier for wireless technologies. Beyond diagnostics, it would be fascinating to see widespread applications of rf technologies to enhance or replace biological processes. It almost sounds like science fiction, but his research and innovativeness are making it happen.