Nestlé Acquires Prometheus, Trius Raises $30M in Private Placement, Canaan’s Bloch Discusses Advanced BioHealing Deal, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

5/26/11Follow @bvbigelow

We’ve been seeing some big life sciences deals in recent weeks, the latest being Nestlé’s acquisition of San Diego’s Prometheus Labs. Here’s our wrap-up of the past week.

Switzerland’s Nestlé Health Science agreed to acquire San Diego’s Prometheus Laboratories in what one analyst estimated as a $1.1 billion deal. The Nestlé subsidiary has been on a buying spree, acquiring CM&D Pharma, which is focused on cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases, in February; and Vitaflo, which develops treatments of inherited metabolic diseases, last August. San Diego’s Prometheus, which has been in registration for an IPO since late 2007, also is a specialty pharma and diagnostics company focused on cancer and gastrointestinal disorders.

—San Diego-based Trius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TSRX), which is developing a new generation of antibiotics for treating multi-drug resistant infections, surprised me yesterday by disclosing plans to raise $30.2 million through a private stock placement. I recently talked with Trius CEO Jeff Stein about the company’s travails in raising capital through an IPO last year, and how government R&D contracts are supporting the biotech’s early stage drug development.

La Jolla Pharmaceutical has been an icon of San Diego’s biotech community, but preliminary data from a preclinical study of a compound the company has been studying for repairing scar tissue could spell the end of the company’s 21-year run. In a statement Monday, the biotech says its LJP1485 compound will not show a statistically significant improvement compared to a placebo. CEO Dierdre Gillespie told me in an e-mail yesterday that it will still be a few days before another update is available. The biotech has raised $428.1 million without producing any commercial therapies, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

—San Diego-based ResMed ( NYSE: RMD), which provides technology for treating sleep apnea, said it is forming a new strategic business unit, called ResMed Ventures and Initiatives, to focus on heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases related to sleep-disordered breathing. The move is part of a sweeping reorganization at the company.

ResMed also launched a free iPhone app that’s designed to help people determine if they suffer from a sleep disorder. The app asks a series of questions about sleeping habits, and also can be set to record a person’s snoring pattern while they sleep.

—I talked with Stephen Bloch, who is a general partner in the Westport, CT, office of Canaan Partners, about Shire’s $750 million acquisition of San Diego’s Advanced BioHealing (ABH). Bloch and Canaan stepped in to lead what became a $40 million investment to restart ABH. Now Shire is reported to be in buyout talks with Lexington, MA-based Cubist Pharmaceuticals, which is best known for an antibiotic used to treat drug-resistant skin infections.

—In his BioBeat column, Luke talked with Jim Posada of Seattle-based Resolve Therapeutics about a new business model for venture-backed biotechs. Posada has set up Resolve as a limited liability corporation to distribute returns to investors by eventually signing a licensing deal with a Big Pharma company.

—The FDA cleared Cambridge, MA-based Vertex, which has operations in San Diego, to begin marketing telaprevir (Incivek) as a new treatment for patients in the U.S. with hepatitis C. The new drug is now approved as a first-round treatment for patients diagnosed with the liver-damaging virus.

—An Ernst & Young study of first-quarter IPO filings showed that two San Diego life sciences companies, Ambit Biosciences and IASO Pharma, are preparing to go public. The accounting firm said 125 companies were ready to go public at the end of March, a 56 percent increase over the 80 companies that were registered for IPOs at the end of the first quarter of 2010.

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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