San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Isis, Elevation, Proacta, and More
As the time draws near for the annual J.P. Morgan Global Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, it seems as if there has been a surge in deals for local life sciences companies. Here’s our rundown:
—Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) agreed to pay Carlsbad, CA-based Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS) $29 million, with the potential for more payments down the road as part of a new drug development partnership. Biogen and Isis agreed to collaborate to advance an experimental drug that Isis has identified for treating spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic disease that causes severe muscle atrophy and weakness in newborns. The deal could eventually be worth as much as $299 million for Isis.
—Denmark’s Novo Ventures led a $30 million Series B financing for San Diego-based Elevation Pharmaceuticals to fund development of an aerosol therapy Elevation has been developing for patients living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Heath Lukatch, a San Francisco-based partner of Novo Ventures told me the funding should be enough to carry development of Elevation Pharmaceutical’s aerosolized bronchodilator drug to the threshold of final-stage trials.
—San Diego-based Santarus (NASDAQ: SNTS) asked the FDA to approve its new drug application for budesonide (Uceris), an oral tablet it has been developing with Italy’s Cosmo Technologies for treating mild cases of ulcerative colitis. If the FDA accepts the new drug application for review, Santarus says it has agreed to make a $4 million milestone payment to Cosmo. Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that causes painful inflammation and ulcers inside the colon.
—Proacta, a San Diego-based cancer-drug developer has raised $500,000 toward a $3 million round of financing, according to VentureWire. The biotech was founded at least six years ago to advance a new group of anti-cancer molecules that are active in hypoxic tissue, which were identified by researchers at New Zealand’s University of Auckland and Stanford University. The company says it has raised $43 million through two private financings, and its investors include Alta Partners, Clarus Ventures, Delphi Ventures, Endeavour Capital (New Zealand), GBS Venture Partners (Australia), Genentech, No 8 Ventures (New Zealand) and Roche.
—San Diego-based Afraxis, which is developing drugs to treat Fragile X syndrome and autism, secured $300,000 toward a $2 million round of debt, rights and securities, according to a recent regulatory filing. The startup is pursuing a treatment strategy that was identified by Susumu Tonegawa, a Nobel laureate and MIT professor of biology and neuroscience, and has been funded by San Diego’s Avalon Ventures.
—Cibus Global, a San Diego-based agricultural biotech, raised about half of a $2 million round of equity and rights, according to a recent regulatory filing. As we’ve previously reported, the company has been developing proprietary technology to develop a desired genetic trait, such as resistance to a widely used weed killer, in certain high-value crops.
—San Diego-based Asteres, which is developing an automated kiosk for dispensing prescription and over-the-counter drugs, raised $750,000 in debt and securities, according to a regulatory filing. Asteres was founded at least six years ago by Linda Pinney, a longtime vice president for business development at Pyxis (now part of CareFusion). Astere’s venture investors include Forward Ventures, Pacific Venture Group, and Sanderling Ventures.
—Abbott Biotech Ventures made an undisclosed investment in Del Mar, CA-based NeuroGenetic Pharmaceuticals, a two-year-old startup developing a drug intended to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. NeuroGenetic says its experimental drug is expected to prevent the deposition of amyloid plaques in the brain, thereby precluding neuronal cell death and the dementia associated with Alzheimer’s. The funding is intended to advance pre-clinical development to the point of enabling the startup to initiate clinical trials.