Life Technologies’ CEO Talks Strategy, Phenomix Falls, Arena Pharmaceuticals Grapples With FDA Setback, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

10/28/10Follow @bvbigelow

From the shutdown at Phenomix to the strategy insights shared by Life Technologies’ Greg Lucier, it was a big week for life sciences news. Get your update here and now.

—The shot was fired back in April, but the wound proved fatal to Phenomix by the end of September. San Diego-Phenomix laid off its workforce and went out of business five months after Forest Laboratories terminated its support of clinical trials for dutogliptin, an experimental drug for diabetes.

—Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE) chairman and CEO Greg Lucier was the headliner in a discussion about the future of personalized genomic medicine, and he delivered some compelling insights about the Carlsbad diagnostics equipment maker’s strategy. Lucier said Life is on its way to becoming a big medical company over the next two years, as well as a big supplier of research equipment and materials. Something is working right, since the company’s third quarter revenue increased 83 percent year-over-year, and Life said its third-quarter net income of $105.6 million (or 56 cents a share) showed a 156 percent gain over the same quarter last year.

Complete Genomics, a Mountain View, CA, company developing low-cost gene sequencing technology, plans to raise as much as $96.6 million in its IPO, which is scheduled for the week of Nov. 8. Complete Genomics (which is backed by San Diego’s Enterprise Partners and other investors) is among a handful of companies, including San Diego’s Illumina and Life Technologies of Carlsbad, CA, that are driving down the cost and time required to sequence entire genomes.

—San Diego’s Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA) is trying to regroup after the FDA turned down Arena’s application to market a new drug (lorcaserin) to help people in the U.S. lose weight. Arena CEO Jack Lief told analysts in a conference call Monday that it was too early to give clarity on the timing of a revised application.

—San Diego’s aTyr Pharma raised $23 million in a venture financing round led by Domain Associates. Since it was incorporated in 2006, aTyr has raised a total of about $46 million from Domain and its other investors: Alta Partners, Cardinal Partners, and Polaris Venture Partners.

Minnow Medical raised a total of $4.7 million through two separate financings, roughly a month after moving the medical device company’s headquarters from San Diego to Laguna Hills, CA, and three months after naming Raymond W. Cohen as CEO. Minnow has been developing a proprietary angioplasty balloon catheter that can be heated to “denature” the hardened fatty buildup that clogs blood vessels. The company is planning clinical trials in Europe next year.

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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