SD Biotech Roundup: Astute Raises $40M, Correlation Tries New VC Model
Here’s a short, but interesting roundup of life sciences news over the past week.
—San Diego-based Astute Medical, which targets certain biomarkers to rapidly diagnose sepsis and other acute conditions, says today it has raised $40.4 million in a Series C Financing led by MPM Capital and Kaiser Permanente Ventures. The company raised roughly the same amount in its Series B Financing. Astute says it plans to use the proceeds to commercialize its first product, expand R&D, and continue to validate its approach. Apart from sepsis, the company’s areas of interest include abdominal pain, acute coronary syndromes, cerebrovascular injury, and kidney injury. Existing investors include De Novo Ventures, Delphi Ventures, Domain Associates, and Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation
—A new San Diego venture capital firm, Correlation Ventures, is not deeply studying the merits of a prospective deal but instead uses analytic software to correlate the relative risks—and likelihood of a successful return on investment. The firm operates only as a co-investor with other VCs, and bases its investment decision on how well certain variables align with previous VC deals. One negative variable, for example, is an excessive number of VC partners on a company’s board—the optimum number is two. David Coats, a founder and the managing partner who specializes in life sciences deals, says the VC firm spent more than six years and invested millions of dollars to compile a database of key variables from more than 60,000 venture financing deals covering roughly 98 percent of all U.S. venture investments since 1987.
—San Diego’s Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AMLN) is going for round 2 after soliciting bids that range from $25 to $29 a share from prospective pharmaceutical buyers. Such bids would value Amylin at $4.1 billion to $4.7 billion. Bloomberg reports that AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Merck, Pfizer, and Bristol-Myers Squibb made first-round proposals to acquire the diabetes drug specialist, although Pfizer is reportedly withdrawing from further bidding. A sale could be concluded by next month.
—San Diego-based Trovagene (NASDAQ: TROV) said it has completed a complex transaction that enabled the company to move trading of its shares from the over-the-counter market to the NASDAQ Capital Market. A spokeswoman for the company, which specializes in molecular diagnostics, says Trovagene raised more than $9 million in gross proceeds of a public stock offering. The company also completed a 1-for-6 reverse stock split as part of its move to NASDAQ.
—San Diego’s Tocagen was the subject of an interesting piece in Bloomberg Businessweek (along with ImmunoCellular Therapeutics (NASDAQ: IMUC) of Woodland Hills, CA, about companies developing new treatments for glioblastoma multiforme, the type of brain cancer that killed Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy. Tocagen, which has maintained a relatively low profile in San Diego, has reached early stage human testing, uses a virus that is injected into the brain to replicate and become “a sticky landing pad” for an oral antibiotic. The combination serves as a powerful chemotherapy. The story is here.