Astute Medical Nabs $13M, Roth Capital Hosts Conference, Kaldor Joins Versant, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

3/10/11Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego’s life sciences sector must have been lying low over the past week, as there was scant news from local biotech, diagnostics, and medical device companies. Our roundup is here.

—Biopharma executive Stephen Kaldor, who was CEO at San Diego-based Ambrx from 2007 to 2010, has joined Versant Ventures as a venture partner. The firm has offices in San Francisco, Menlo Park, CA, and Newport Beach, CA, but Kaldor, who joined in January, will remain in San Diego, according to the Versant website. Kaldor is currently the acting CEO of a Quanticell, an early stage biotech focused on combatting cancer resistance.

—San Diego’s Astute Medical which raised $26.5 million in a Series B venture round last May, says it has extended the round and raised an additional $13 million to develop new diagnostic tests for acute conditions that require rapid diagnosis. The company raised $6.2 million in its Series A round of venture funding in 2008. The startup, founded in 2007 by CEO Christopher Hibberd and chief scientific officer Paul McPherson, has been working to identify protein biomarkets that could be used to help diagnose kidney injury, acute coronary syndromes, cerebrovascular injury, abominal pain, sepsis, and other acute conditions.

—San Diego-based Aethlon Medical, which has been developing therapeutic blood filtration devices for treating infectious disease and cancer, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the company’s request to export its “Hemopurifier” device to India. The FDA’s approval was granted under a section of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that allows the export of certain medical devices that have not yet received premarket approval in the U.S. by the FDA.

—Newport Beach, CA-based Roth Capital’s annual growth stock conference is bouncing back this year. The 23rd annual OC Growth Stock Conference, which begins Monday at the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point, CA, is billed as Roth’s largest conference to date, with more than 430 presenting companies—including 135 biotech, specialty pharmaceutical, and medical technology companies. About 350 companies presented last year, and 212 companies presented in 2009. Among the small cap life science companies attending the three-day, invitation-only conference for institutional investors are San Diego’s Ardea Biosciences (NASDAQ: RDEA), Avanir Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AVNR), Dexcom (NASDAQ: DXCM), Inovio Pharmaceuticals (AMEX: INO), Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS), Neurocrine Biosciences (NASDAQ: NBIX), NuVasive (NASDAQ: NUVA), Senomyx (NASDAQ: SNMX), Somaxon Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SOMX), Trius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TSRX), Santarus (NASDAQ: SNTS), and Volcano (NASDAQ: VOLC).

—The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., UC San Diego Extension, and the San Diego Workforce Partnership have been collaborating to develop a growth strategy for the region’s cluster of healthcare information technology companies. Researchers at UC San Diego Extension have been conducting interviews with health IT industry leaders and surveying health IT employers. The data collected is intended to help determine the cluster’s potential, identify important issues, trends, and key economic and legislative factors that drive growth of the sector. The EDC has organized a series of workshops this month to review the preliminary findings and collect feedback from industry leaders.

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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