Roche Acquires Anadys, Wests Create $100M Fund, Johnson & Johnson Makes Room for 20 Startups, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

10/20/11Follow @bvbigelow

Between the formation of the new $100 million West Health Investment Fund and the new wet-lab space Johnson & Johnson is hosting for as many as 20 startups, you’d have to say it’s been a good week for life sciences innovation in San Diego. Get briefed here or get left behind.

—San Diego’s Gary and Mary West, who provided $90 million to establish the West Wireless Health Institute, established the $100 million West Health Investment Fund to invest solely in startups that promise to drive down the cost of health care. Don Casey, the fund manager and West Wireless CEO, vowed that the fund would not cause a “balloon squeeze,” where innovation moves the cost from one part of the health system to another.

Johnson & Johnson has refurbished part of its Pharmaceutical Research & Development facility in San Diego to provide lab and office space for as many 20 life sciences startups. Each startup will have to make monthly payments to stay at the Janssen Labs at San Diego, but J&J says there is no “quid pro quo,” and each tenant will get office space and access to a common area with wet lab research equipment that would be difficult for a company to afford on its own.

Anadys Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ANDS), the San Diego-based biotech developing antiviral drugs for treating hepatitis, agreed to an all-cash buyout offer worth $230 million from Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant. Roche’s offer to pay $3.70 for each Anadys share was a 256 percent premium over the previous trading day’s close of $1.04. Anadys had just released encouraging results from a mid-stage clinical trial of its lead hepatitis C drug.

Venture capital firms invested $6.95 billion in 876 deals throughout the United States—including $202 million in 21 venture deals in the San Diego area—during the three months that ended Sept. 30, according to the MoneyTree Report. The third-quarter survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the National Venture Capital Association, and Thomson Reuters also highlighted a shift in VC activity, with a pullback in funding for life sciences. That was also true in San Diego, where nine life sciences companies got $26 million, or 13 percent of total VC investments here.

—Following a two-year setback, San Diego’s Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM) rolled out a laboratory-developed blood test that can determine with … Next Page »

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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