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SD Life Sciences Roundup: Arena, PatientSafe, MEI Pharma, & More

Here’s my roundup of new developments from San Diego’s life sciences cluster over the past week.

—After initially rejecting a new drug application from San Diego’s Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA), the FDA approved lorcaserin (Belviq)—the first new weight-loss drug to be approved in 13 years. With some two-thirds of Americans considered overweight or obese, the FDA has been under pressure to approve a new weight-loss treatment. At the same time, U.S. health regulators had set a high bar for approval because of safety problems and even deaths associated with previous weight-loss drugs, such as the fen-phen diet drug combo that was pulled from the market in 1997.

Inhibrx, a stealthy antibody therapeutics startup in San Diego, said it has struck a worldwide licensing agreement with Celgene that could eventually be worth as much as $500 million. Inhibrx says on its website that its drug development programs are focused on cancer, inflammatory and metabolic diseases, but the target of its antibody program with Celgene was not disclosed. In a statement, Celgene’s president of research and early development, Tom Daniel, said, “Inhibrx has developed an antibody with strong pre-clinical study results on a highly validated target with very promising therapeutic potential.”

—PatientSafe Solutions, the startup led by San Diego serial entrepreneur Jim Sweeney, raised almost $5.5 million of a planned $12 million financing round, according to a recent regulatory filing. As I reported last year, the company has developed a souped-up Apple iPod Touch to help nurses manage their clinical care workflow, guide patient care, coordinate tasks—and ultimately reduce medical errors. The latest cash infusion follows a … Next Page »

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