Life Sciences News Roundup: InflammaGen, HemaQuest, ImThera & More

3/16/12Follow @bvbigelow

A spate of funding deals were disclosed over the past week, including a sizable investment in San Diego’s Allylix, an industrial biotechnology startup.

—San Diego’s HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals said it raised $13 million in an extension of its Series B funding round to support a mid-stage trial of its experimental drug for patients with sickle cell disease. HemaQuest said its lead drug candidate is intended to stimulate fetal hemoglobin expression and red blood cell production, which would reduce the likelihood that sickle cell-disease patients will suffer dangerous “pain crises” that require hospitalization.

—San Diego-based InflammaGen Therapeutics said it’s has begun a mid-stage clinical trial of an experimental treatment that’s intended to prevent multi-organ failure in patients suffering acute shock. InflammaGen, which is an early-stage startup, also has been seeking to establish a strategic partnership with a pharmaceutical company to advance its treatment.

—Germany’s BASF Venture Capital accounted for $13.5 million of $18.2 million in funding raised by San Diego-based Allylix, which is using fermentation technology and genetically engineered yeast to produce specialized flavor and fragrance chemicals. Allylix was founded in 2004 to advance its technology for making terpenes, a group of complex hydrocarbon chemicals typically used as flavor and fragrance enhancers. Avrio Ventures, Cultivian Ventures, and Tate & Lyle also participated in the latest round.

Hello Health, the New York-based subsidiary of Canada’s Myca Health, has been gearing up for a major national expansion of its electronic health records technology, which will be largely subsidized by $10 million in venture funding the company raised earlier this year. As part of its plans, Hello Health formed a partnership in December with San Diego’s Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) to develop a variety of interconnected medical devices.

—Luke’s BioBeat column outlined the benefits of expanding the FDA’s “Accelerated Approval” process, which would enable pharmaceutical companies to launch new drugs targeting serious or life-threatening diseases. Florida Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns and New York Democrat Edolphus Towns have introduced the legislation, H. R. 4132, which was discussed at a public hearing held by the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health.

—In its first commercial launch, San Diego medical device maker ImThera Medical said its implantable neurostimulation device for treating obstructive sleep apnea was approved for use in most of Europe. Imthera CEO Marcelo Lima said the new therapy would become available “to patients at key European centers of excellence in the second half of 2012.” The device won its “CE” mark, which enables Imthera to market its device in the 27 member states of the European Union as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.

—San Diego’s Paul Sonnier, who used LinkedIn to build the Wireless Health Group into a professional social media network with thousands of subscribers, was named to lead digital health strategy at Popper & Co., an M&A advisory and specialty consulting firm based in Sarasota, FL. Sonnier was previously vice president of partner development at the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance, a nonprofit industry group based in San Diego.

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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