Orexigen’s Diet Drug Springs Back to Life, Independa Gets $1.6M, NuVasive Faces Big Judgments in Patent Dispute, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

9/22/11Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego life sciences research and development, the engine that drives innovation, got some new digs at Isis Pharmaceuticals, and J. Craig Venter started the digging for the construction of a new genomics research headquarters. But we didn’t have to go digging for news; our roundup begins now.

—After meeting with federal regulators, San Diego’s Orexigen Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OREX) said it is restarting work on its experimental diet pill, a combination of naltrexone and bupriopion (Contrave), after declaring in June that it was suspending development of the drug. Orexigen shelved the program after the FDA said the company still needed to conduct a costly, long-term clinical study of more than 60,000 patients to demonstrate that the proposed diet pill wouldn’t increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. Orexigen found a way to move forward, however, by proposing a two-year cardiovascular study that would enroll 10,000 patients. Orexigen said the FDA’s feedback was “reasonable and feasible.”

—San Diego-based Independa, a wireless health startup developing technology to help seniors live independently, raised $1.6 million in an early stage financing round involving Miramar Venture Partners and City Hill Ventures, with an additional $200,000 loan from Silicon Valley Bank. Independa plans to spend the money on development of its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology and to expand its marketing and distribution.

NuVasive (NUVA: NUVA), the San Diego medical device company developing new surgical products and techniques for repairing the spine, said it gave more than it got in a continuing patent dispute with Medtronic. While a formal judgment has not yet been entered, a jury reviewing four of the nine contested patents determined that Medtronic should pay NuVasive $660,000 plus interest for infringing on a NuVasive patent. The jury also found that NuVasive should pay Medtronic $101 million plus interest for infringing three Medtronic patents.

—San Diego scientist J. Craig Venter and local dignitaries attended a ceremony Tuesday as construction began on a new $35 million building to house the West Coast headquarters for the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI). It’s going in near the Salk Institute and the new Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. A JCVI spokeswoman said the 45,000-square-foot building will be support 125 scientists and staff in a state-of-the-art, carbon-neutral building on the UC San Diego campus. The work will be focused on genomic research, including human genomic sequencing and analysis, synthetic genomics, and environmental genomics.

—Carlsbad, CA-based Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS) has completed the consolidation of three R&D facilities into a single corporate and research facility. An Isis spokeswoman said the company’s 320 employees continue to be focused on research and drug development, with technology that enables the company to move three to five new drugs into its pipeline every year. The cholesterol-reducing drug mipomersen is the company’s most advanced drug.

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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