Martino Joins Ambit, Nordhoff Leaves Gen-Probe, Swarmology Raises $1.2M, and More San Diego Life Sciences News

11/17/11Follow @bvbigelow

It was a week of beginnings and endings—and fundings—in San Diego’s life sciences sector. There’s a beginning to our roundup as well, and you are there now.

—San Diego’s Ambit Biosciences named Michael Martino as CEO. Martino spent the previous 30 years overseeing new product launches, drug development, funding, and other business activities at CareFusion, Arzeda, and Sonus Pharmaceuticals. Ambit has been working with Astellas Pharma to develop its lead drug candidate, quizartinib, for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia.

—Gen-Probe (NASDAQ: GPRO), the San Diego diagnostics company, said Henry “Hank” Nordhoff is retiring. Nordhoff served as Gen-Probe CEO from 1994 to 2009, when Carl Hull was named as chief executive. Nordhoff plans to retire from the board, where he has served for the past 17 years, at the end of December.

—San Diego-based Swarmology, a startup providing social media analytics for healthcare clients, raised initial funding of $1.2 million, mostly from the San Diego chapter of the Tech Coast Angels. Swarmology CEO Malcolm Bohm told me the company’s Web-based technology mines  online comments posted on a particular health topic and provide a social media marketing strategy.

—In his BioBeat column this week, Luke said University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel delivered a brutally honest message that a lot of people attending the Personalized Medicine Conference at Harvard Medical School needed to hear. First and foremost, the industry needs to focus on reducing healthcare costs. And for personalized medicine to work, Emanuel proposed a 1-100-0 plan—treatment that is truly tailored for a single individual, almost 100 percent effective, and with almost no side effects.

—As part of a shelf registration, San Diego’s Cadence Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CADX) priced a public offering of 19 million shares at $3.75 per share. After deducting costs related to the offering itself, Cadence estimated its share of the proceeds would be about $67.4 million. The company said it needed the funding to help pay for the commercialization of its first medication, an intravenous formulation of the pain-killer acetaminophen.

—San Diego-based Adventrx Pharmaceuticals (NYSE Amex: ANX) said it raised about $17 million in gross proceeds after closing its public offering of nearly 21.3 million shares of its common stock and warrants exercisable for as much as 10.6 million additional shares. The company said it plans to use net proceeds of $15.7 million to fund late-stage clinical trials of two drug candidates, ANX-514 and ANX-188, and for general corporate purposes.

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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