San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Receptos, Vital Therapies, & More

2/23/12Follow @bvbigelow

Funding deals accounted for much of the life sciences news over the past week. We’ve got it all wrapped up here.

—San Diego-based Receptos, which is using the structure of cellular G protein-coupled receptors to develop drug candidates for autoimmune therapies, has secured $10.8 million in a funding round that could be as much as $50 million, according to a recent regulatory filing. The biopharmaceutical startup raised about $25 million in a Series A round in 2009 from investors that include Venrock, Arch Venture Partners, Flagship Ventures, and Lilly Ventures, according to VentureWire.

—San Diego’s Vital Therapies, a nine-year-old company developing an artificial liver to support a patient with compromised liver function for as long as 30 days, has raised almost $1 million in a combination of equity, rights and securities, according to a recent regulatory filing. In two separate filings last year, VentureWire reports the company raised $22.6 million toward a possible $60 million Series D round and had increased the size of an offering of convertible promissory notes and warrants to $16.3 million. The company’s investors include Delphi Ventures, DFJ DragonFund China, HBM BioMed China, Heights Capital Management, MedVenture Associates, Toucan Capital, Valley Ventures and Versant Ventures.

—Renato Dulbecco, the Nobel laureate and renowned cancer researcher, died at his home in La Jolla, according to a statement from the Salk Institute, where he was a founding faculty member. Dulbecco shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine with former students Howard Temin and David Baltimore for work that showed how a tumor virus inserted its own genes into a cell and “turns on” the uncontrolled growth that is the hallmark of cancer. In 1986, Dulbecco famously called for the complete sequencing of the human genome.

—San Diego-based Asteres, which has been developing a self-service kiosk for prescription drugs, raised $500,000 in debt and securities, according to a recent regulatory filing. The company’s investors include Forward Ventures, Pacific Venture Group, and Sanderling Ventures, according to VentureWire.

—Roche’s unsolicited takeover bid for San Diego’s Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) could put other genome-sequencing leaders in play, including Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE), according to a Bloomberg analysis. Macquarie Group analysts said Life might be targeted for a takeover as it competes with Illumina to introduce a faster, cheaper gene-sequencing instrument.

—San Diego State University’s College of Extended Studies said it is providing education, training, and job placement services in the region’s life sciences industry for more than 1,000 people, including veterans and laid-off workers. The collaborative BRIDGE project for the San Diego region was made possible through a $4.95 million grant awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. BRIDGE is an acronym for Biotechnology Readiness Immersion (Certificates) and Degrees for Gainful Employment.

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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