Optimer Raises $77.6M, Former Sequenom Patent Agent Pleads Guilty, IPO Lineup Includes San Diego’s Ambit and IASO Pharma, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

2/17/11Follow @bvbigelow

With San Diego’s Optimer and Conatus Pharmaceuticals successfully raising capital, and Sanderling Ventures reportedly planning to raise a new fund, it would be easy to think that the capital markets are opening a little for the life sciences sector. You decide.

—San Diego’s Optimer Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OPTR) completed a secondary public offering of 7.8 million shares, including all 900,000 shares granted to underwriters for overallotments. Optimer sold 6.9 million shares for $11.25 a piece in the offering announced last Thursday. The company raised aggregate gross proceeds of $77.6 million before expenses. Optimer has been developing a new antibiotic treatment for C. difficile, a potentially deadly intestinal infection.

—A former patent agent for San Diego-based Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM) and his brother pleaded guilty to federal charges of passing inside information about the genetic test maker to two Florida men who collected $646,000 from illegal stock trading, according to the FBI. Aaron Scalia of San Diego and his older brother Stephen Scalia of Baltimore, MD, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit securities fraud as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

—San Diego-based Conatus Pharmaceuticals closed on $20 million in an equity funding round led by AgeChem Venture Fund of Montreal. Conatus plans to use the proceeds to advance development of a new drug for treating hepatitis C.

—The San Diego-based West Wireless Health Institute named Ed Cantwell as a senior vice president, responsible for creating low-cost technology for delivering wireless health care in hospitals and other medical facilities. Cantwell was previously director of 3M’s wireless business and the founding chairman and CEO of Texas-based InnerWireless.

—San Diego’s Sanderling Ventures intends to raise a seventh fund, according to a report from PE Hub. The venture firm, which specializes in funding life sciences startups, raised $421 million for its previous fund in 2004.

—The number of IPOs in registration for U.S. exchanges increased to 121 at the end of 2010, according to a report from Ernst & Young. Among the 22 California companies waiting to go public are two San Diego life science companies: Ambit Biosciences and IASO Pharma.

—San Diego-based Genomatica signed a strategic agreement with Houston’s Waste Management to develop technology that can turn syngas into commercial chemical products. Landfills produce syngas, which is mostly carbon monoxide and hydrogen, as waste is broken down by exposure to high heat, pressure, and bacteria. Genomatica plans to create proprietary organisms and manufacturing processes that use syngas as the raw material for making certain industrial chemicals.

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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