Halozyme Deal Could Yield $83M, Wireless Health Leaders Converge, Readers Vote on Worst Drug Names, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

5/12/11Follow @bvbigelow

Much of the action this week was taking place downtown, at the 6th annual Convergence Summit hosted by the nonprofit Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance. The three-day conference included CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors, executives, and innovators—and we’ve got the highlights of that and other area life sciences news wrapped up here.

—San Diego’s Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), the largest wireless chipmaker in the world, said during the summit that it’s helping the X Prize Foundation set the ground rules for a proposed $10 million Tricorder X Prize. X Prize organizers want a real-life medical tricorder—like the one Dr. McCoy used on Star Trek—that is portable, uses wireless sensors, and has the capability to rapidly diagnose patients better than or equal to a panel of board-certified physicians.

Eric Topol, the Scripps Health cardiologist and director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, said during his talk at the convergence summit that he wants to start a new medical school for tech-minded students in San Diego. Topol says medical students should be learning how to handle new wireless technologies and genomics in their practice. Topol was instrumental in founding the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine in 2002.

—Exton, PA-based ViroPharma (NASDAQ: VPHM) agreed to pay San Diego’s Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HALO) as much as $83 million to license Halozyme’s recombinant human hyaluronidase. ViroPharma wants to develop the Halozyme compound as an experimental injection medication for a rare genetic disorder that causes potentially life-threatening swelling.

—San Diego’s Meritage Pharma said its experimental drug for a little-known condition called eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) passed a mid-stage clinical trial of 71 children. The study found that a medium and high dose of the Meritage drug reached the main goal, reducing inflammation and symptoms by half or more, when compared to a placebo.

—Luke explained in his BioBeat column why so many drug names are so unpronounceably awkward. In addition to all the marketing considerations, the FDA has been rejecting four out of every 10 name proposals. In our informal readers’ poll, the five worst drug names (and number of votes each received) are: Xgeva (27), Yervoy (20), Edarbi (16), Viibryd (10), and Incivek (8). Our readers said the five best names are: Provenge (39), Benlysta (27), Prolia (21), Incivek (10), and Horizant (9).

—San Diego’s Jitterbug launched a mobile personal emergency response system during the wireless health summit. Jitterbug’s new service enables certain subscribers to easily connect with an on-call agent trained to deal with medical problems and other emergencies.

Nukona, a San Diego startup that specializes in security management software for mobile devices, said during the wireless health summit that it’s working with Newport Beach, CA-based Integer Wireless to provide HIPAA-compliant wireless networks for hospitals, physician groups, and other healthcare providers.

—Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical made an unspecified investment in Fate Therapeutics, the San Diego developer of stem cell technology. The announcement came a few weeks after regulatory filings by Fate showed it had increased its current equity funding to $36 million, not including another $1 million in debt financing.

—San Diego’s ImThera Medical, which is developing an implantable neurostimulation device for treating obstructive sleep apnea, raised about $1.8 million of a planned $2 million financing round. ImThera plans to use the funding for the next phase of trials in the European Union, and to advance the company’s FDA request for an investigational device exemption.

—San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AMLN) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation plan to collaborate in a series of clinical studies to investigate the feasibility of mixing pramlintide, an analog of the human hormone amylin, with insulin to treat type 1 diabetes. The idea is to see if a combined formulation works as well at controlling blood sugar levels as separately injected doses, which is currently the only FDA-approved method for administering the two drugs.

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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