Illumina Rides Business Surge, IntegenX Acquires GenValult, Orexigen Cuts Payroll, & More San Diego Life Science News

2/10/11Follow @bvbigelow

There was good news and bad news from San Diego’s life sciences community over the past week. Here’s our recap for you.

—San Diego-based Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) said it shipped a record number of DNA mapping systems during the fourth quarter that ended Jan. 2. With demand for its genetic equipment soaring, Illumina said its profit was three times the same quarter last year. Illumina also disclosed plans to relocate its 1,100 San Diego employees to the San Diego campus of Biogen Idec, the Cambridge, MA-based company that is pulling up stakes in San Diego.

IntegenX of Pleasanton, CA, acquired Carlsbad, CA-based GenVault for an undisclosed amount, and raised $15.6 million in new capital in a round led by existing investor Domain Associates. IntegenX makes automated sample preparation systems for genetics laboratories. GenVault produces bio-sample storage systems that do not depend on refrigeration.

Orexigen Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OREX) eliminated 23 jobs, or about 40 percent of its workforce, after the FDA rejected the company’s request to sell the obesity drug Contrave in the United States. Orexigen said it expects the cuts will save $5 million a year.

—San Diego-based Leading Ventures‘ co-founder and senior managing director John Rodenrys took me to the living tissue laboratory of UC San Diego bioengineering professor Geert Schmid-Schönbein to better explain the firm’s venture funding strategy. Leading Ventures is providing funding for two startups based on technologies developed in Schmid-Schönbein’s lab.

—San Diego-based Optimer Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OPTR) disclosed a deal with Japan’s Astellas Pharma that gives Astellas exclusive rights to market its treatment for C. difficile infections in Europe, and certain countries in the Middle East, Africa, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Optimer filed for FDA approval of the drug fidaxomicin in late November.

—Physio-Control of Redmond, WA, and BeneChill of San Diego formed a strategic partnership to sell a portable system that BeneChill developed for use by emergency medical technicians that chills the brains of people who have suffered a stroke, heart attack, or traumatic brain injury. The new partners plan to start marketing the RhinoChill System in Europe this quarter.

—San Diego-based Altair Therapeutics shut down after the startup’s lone drug candidate for asthma failed in a mid-stage clinical trial. Altair was a spinoff from Carlsbad, CA-based Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS), which has re-acquired Altair’s assets, blocked further clinical development, and dissolved Altair.

—San Diego’s Genomatica, which is developing sustainable chemicals technology, signed a strategic agreement with Houston’s Waste Management to develop ways of making basic chemicals from landfill gas and other sources.

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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