Buyouts, Quantified Health, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

12/1/11Follow @bvbigelow

In the news since the Thanksgiving holiday, we’ve had a fascinating bit of biomedical research from Internet guru Larry Smarr, a criminal conviction, and an extended Q&A with Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter. Your life sciences briefing begins now.

—Under fierce competition in the market for gene expression microarray tests, Santa Clara-based Affymetrix (NASDAQ: AFFX) agreed to pay $330 million to acquire San Diego-based eBioscience, a maker of flow cytometer instruments and chemical reagents used in biomedical diagnostics. Affymetrix said it plans to keep eBioscience’s management team and operations in San Diego.

—Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), the New York pharmaceutical giant, agreed to buy Excaliard Pharmaceuticals, a Carlsbad, CA-spinoff from Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS). Isis said it’s getting $4.4 million upfront, and as much as $14 million over time for its stake in Excaliard, plus additional milestone and royalty payments. Excaliard was founded in 2006 to use Isis’ gene-silencing technology, known as antisense, to curb the activity of certain genes implicated in excessive skin scarring.

—A 23-page article offers an insightful glimpse into the converging future of personalized medicine, health IT, and wireless health. It is titled, “Quantified Health: Toward Digitally Enabled Genomic Medicine: A 10-Year Detective Story of Quantifying My Body.” I’m curious what other experts in these fields think about this bit of scientific research from Larry Smarr, founding director of the UC system’s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (CalIT2). I posted my question-and-answer session with Larry here.

A San Diego jury convicted Kent Thomas Keigwin, a 61-year-old financial advisor, in the first-degree murder of John G. Watson, a retired life sciences CEO and local angel investor. Prosecutors argued that Keigwin killed Watson to steal millions of dollars from Watson’s accounts, by using Watson’s personal information to impersonate him. Keigwin is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 20.

—Amid the celebration of their success with Amira Biosciences (purchased earlier this year for $475 million by Bristol-Myers Squibb), Versant Ventures’ Brad Bolzon and Amira co-founder and CTO Peppi Prasit started a new company, Inception Sciences. Prasit and Bolzon plan to operate Inception Sciences as a holding company for spinning out individual drug development programs as separate corporate entities. I hope to get more details about the venture next week.

—In a ruling issued before Thanksgiving, a federal judge in San Diego declared that San Diego-based Histogen and its Histogen Aesthetics subsidiary are not infringing on a couple of key patents held by Carlsbad, CA-based SkinMedica. In a lawsuit filed in early 2009, SkinMedica alleged that Histogen was infringing on its proprietary “NouriCel” technology for culturing certain types of skin cells in growth media. Both companies use growth factors and other proteins derived from the cells to make skin care products.

—Luke devoted a two-part BioBeat column to his conversation with Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter about the pharma business generally, and Lilly (NYSE: LLY) in particular. In part 1, Luke talked mostly with Lechleiter about ways to get pharma out of its current rut. In part 2, Luke featured the Lilly CEO’s responses to questions that readers relayed to him via Twitter.

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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