San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Halozyme, Sophiris, Arena, & More

7/12/12Follow @bvbigelow

Plans by Bedford, MA-based Hologic to acquire San Diego’s Gen-Probe, are moving ahead. We’ve got the latest details, along with the rest of the innovation news in San Diego’s biotech, diagnostics, and medical device sectors.

—San Diego’s BioNano Genomics, which is getting ready to introduce its nanoAnalyzer System, has raised almost $11.6 million in a mix of equity, rights, and securities that targets almost $14 million, according to a recent regulatory filing. In a statement issued the same day, the company said it has raised $10 million in a Series B-1 round. Existing investors Battelle Ventures, Domain Associates and Gund Investment participated in the round. The company, founded in 2007 as BioNanomatrix, says its single-molecule imaging technology captures extremely long molecules at high resolution, enabling scientists to visualize an entire genome. BioNano Genomics says its approach should provide the context that has been missing in efforts to make the link between phenotypic variation and genomic variation.

Sophiris Bio, which moved to San Diego from Canada last year, plans to meet with FDA regulators this summer to determine the design of pivotal clinical trials for an experimental drug intended to treat enlarged prostate glands. Lars Ekman, a Sofinnova Ventures partner who has stepped in as CEO at the company, told me there will likely be two clinical trials, with 500 to 600 patients in each. Sophiris Bio, which currently trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SHS, also will need to raise additional capital for the trials.

—San Diego-based Gen-Probe (NASDAQ: GPRO) has scheduled a special meeting of stockholders on July 31 to vote on the $3.7 billion buyout offer from Bedford, MA-based Hologic (NASDAQ: HOLX). In a statement released by the two companies, Gen-Probe Chairman and CEO Carl Hull has agreed to serve as a senior vice president and general manager of the combined company’s diagnostics business for at least 15 months.

—San Diego’s Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA) said it has filed an application with regulators in Switzerland to market its lorcaserin weight-loss drug there. It is the third such application that Arena has filed for the drug. U.S. regulators approved the use of lorcaserin (Belviq) last month, and the drug is currently under review with the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Switzerland is not part of the EMA and requires a separate application.

—Steve Flaim, current chairman of Southern California’s Tech Coast Angels, offered some interesting insight about angel investments in life sciences deals when we talked about a new report that shows U.S. angel investing is holding steady so far this year. Flaim said some savvy Web and social media investors are shifting their investment focus to life sciences. “If you kind of sniff around the corners of healthcare,” Flaim said, “you can find opportunities that align within the angels’ framework of investments over three to seven years.”

—San Diego’s Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HALO) made Luke’s list of “the best boring companies in biotech.” In his BioBeat column, Luke explained that he based his list on companies that have accomplished something noteworthy without getting much media attention. Halozyme is focused on what happens outside the cell, in the extracellular matrix, and has developed a family of recombinant human enzymes designed to boost or aid the effects of biologic drugs.

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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