San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Regulus, MEI Pharma, Qualcomm & More

8/16/12Follow @bvbigelow

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small-molecule, anti-cancer drug that targets so-called survival proteins that enable cancer cells to defy a natural mechanism for programmed cell death. Tragara’s investors include Domain Associates, Mitsubishi, Morgenthaler Ventures, Oxford Bioscience Partners, and ProQuest Investments.

—San Diego’s Sonexa Therapeutics raised $2 million in debt, rights, and securities, according to a recent regulatory filing. The company has been developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. The company, headed by Domain Associates partner Eckard Weber, raised $30 million in 2008, according to its website. Investors include Domain Associates, AgeChem Venture Fund, Alta Partners, MC Life Science Ventures, and Scale Venture Partners.

—After moving to San Diego last year from Vancouver BC to continue work on a drug treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate, Sophiris Bio told me in an email that veteran biotech executive Randy Woods has joined as CEO. Woods, who is taking over from Sofinnova Ventures’ Lars Ekman, has almost 40 years of experience, including CEO roles at Sequel Pharmaceuticals, NovaCardia, and Corvas.

—San Diego’s Regulus Therapeutics unwrapped a couple of new Big Pharma partnerships to advance work on its innovative approach to commercializing microRNA therapeutics. In a deal with AstraZeneca, Regulus said it has agreed to collaborate to discover, develop, and commercialize microRNA products for three specific targets that are focused on cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic diseases. AstraZeneca agreed to make a combined $28M upfront payment and equity investment in Regulus, along with potential milestone payments.

—In another deal with Weston, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB), Regulus Therapeutics agreed to identify microRNAs biomarkers for multiple sclerosis in the blood of MS patients. Under the transaction, Biogen Idec, the world’s largest maker of drugs for multiple sclerosis, will make an undisclosed investment in Regulus, along with upfront and milestone payments. Regulus said it believes that microRNA biomarkers could be used to select the ideal patients for clinical trials, to develop companion diagnostics, and to monitor disease progression or relapse.

—The West Health Institute named former Johnson & Johnson executive Nicholas J. Valeriani as its new CEO, and said it has established a new incubator for startups that have been funded by the West Health Investment Fund, which is affiliated with the nonprofit institute.  The institute also renamed itself the West Health Institute, dropping “wireless” from its name, “to better reflect the broad work required to lower health care costs.” The changes extend a shift away from an exclusive focus on wireless health to a broader mission that studies ways to lower healthcare costs.

—Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) said its Qualcomm Life division has rolled out a software development kit for 2net, its technology platform for connecting wireless health devices and technologies to cloud-based services and databases. Qualcomm says its approach enables different radio technologies, device types, applications, and services to share health data and related information. Qualcomm Life said it is working with like-minded collaborators, including A&D Medical’s weight scale and blood pressure monitor, Asthmapolis, BodyMedia’s “Fit Link” armband, Entra Health Systems’ glucose meter, Fitbit devices, FitLinxx devices, RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Nonin, Noom, and Withings devices.

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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