SD Biotech Roundup: Wireless Sensor Prize, Zogenix, Sangart, & More

5/31/12Follow @bvbigelow

The X Prize Foundation’s Peter Diamandis came to San Diego to announce the formation of a new incentive prize competition, while a variety of companies disclosed new funding deals. It’s all part of our roundup of local life sciences news.

—San Diego-based Sangart, which has been developing an oxygen-carrying compound for treating the effects of traumatic blood loss, raised $50 million from its biggest investor following an interim evaluation of a second mid-stage trial. An independent data monitoring committee unanimously recommended that Sangart should move to complete a second mid-stage trial without making any changes to its study.

—In a bid to stimulate the development of a new generation of wireless health sensors, the X Prize Foundation and Nokia unveiled the $2.25 million “Nokia Sensing X Challenge” in San Diego last week during the Wireless-Life Sciences Convergence Summit. X Prize founder and CEO Peter Diamandis told the audience, “My car, my airplane, and my computer have more biometric sensing capabilities that we do as humans. We should be creating gigabytes of data per day about our bodies’ health, monitoring every single moment, every single second of what we do.”

—San Diego-based Zogenix (NASDAQ: ZGNX) said it has submitted an investigational new drug (IND) application for a drug-and-device combo—the company’s needle-free DosePro drug injector and a once-monthly formulation of risperidone (Relday) for treating schizophrenia. Zogenix said initial clinical trials are planned to begin in the second half of the year, with results expected by year-end.

—Xconomist Evan Snyder, a leading stem cell researcher at San Diego’s Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, provided an overview of research and development in regenerative medicine and related efforts to commercialize stem cell technology. Snyder said developing new stem cell therapies can be a hard sell among private biopharmaceutical companies because the target patient populations are often small, which makes it hard for private companies to justify the costs of development. As Snyder puts it, there are reasons why the government needs to be involved with these diseases.

—San Diego-based Astute Medical, a diagnostics company focused on community and hospital-acquired acute infections and conditions, has raised $2 million in a combination of convertible loans, warrants, and securities, according to a recent regulatory filing. Astute Medical raised $39.5 million in a Series B financing that included Domain Associates, Delphi Ventures, De Novo Ventures, and Johnson & Johnson Development, according to VentureBeat.

Cryoport, with offices in San Diego and Lake Forest, CA, raised more than $5.2 million in a combination of equity, rights to acquire securities, and securities, according to a recent regulatory filing. Cryoport provides a liquid nitrogen shipping container and logistics services that enable biomedical research labs and life sciences startups to manage the entire process of shipping biological samples.

Polynoma, a San Diego biotech developing new cancer therapies, named former Arana Therapeutics CEO John Chiplin as CEO. Polynoma, which is part of Hong Kong-based CK Life Sciences, recently began a late-stage clinical trial of POL 103A, a new vaccine for treating melanoma.

—San Diego’s West Wireless Health Institute named Rodger Currie as senior vice president of government affairs, a new policy position that’s intended to focus on implementing non-partisan solutions to lower health care costs. Currie was previously a partner in the healthcare and government strategies practice groups of the Foley Hoag law firm. Before that, Currie was a senior vice president for Dean Kamen, the renowned inventor and entrepreneur.

NanoSort CEO Jose Morachis told me his startup just landed a $1 million small business innovation research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health to advance development of a new generation of flow cytometers and cell sorters. With the latest funding, NanoSort has raised a total of $2.4 million for technology that uses innovative optics and a closed microfluidic chip to sort cells at high speed.

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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