San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Santarus, Shire, Illumina, & More

9/6/12Follow @bvbigelow

An appellate court ruling could spell relief for the heartburn that Santarus has been feeling over the past couple of years. We have the latest developments, along with the rest of San Diego’s life sciences news.

—San Diego-based Santarus (NASDAQ: SNTS) said it partially won a federal appeals court ruling regarding patents Santarus had asserted for omeprazole sodium bicarbonate (Zegrid). Santarus CEO Gerald Proehl welcomed the ruling, which sent the case back to the trial court. Santarus cut more than a third of its workforce two years ago after a competitor started selling a cheaper generic version of the drug, which is used to treat chronic heartburn.

Shire (NASDAQ: SHPG), the Irish drug giant, said the lead product of its new San Diego-based regenerative medicine division (previously known as Advanced BioHealing) has made its first move in a global commercialization strategy. The company said Canadian regulators have approved Dermagraft, a skin graft derived from human fibroblasts, for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. In June, Shire unveiled plans to build a campus in San Diego for the business known as Shire RM.

—San Diego-based Histogen, a regenerative medicine startup, said the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has issued the company’s first patent. The patent covers Histogen’s method of growing cells under low oxygen and suspension conditions to produce naturally secreted proteins. It represents a milestone for Histogen, which is developing a hair-loss therapy and other products based on the manufacturing process.

—As I read Luke Timmerman’s fearless football and biotech picks for 2012, I despaired that San Diego’s life sciences industry had failed to make a showing, much like the San Diego Chargers. But at the end of his BioBeat column, Luke awarded his Tom Coughlin Coach of the Year honor to Illumina CEO Jay Flatley, who rallied his players at the San Diego maker of genome sequencing instruments to hold the line in a hostile takeover attempt by the Swiss medical giant Roche.

—San Diego-based ImThera Medical said a study of its implanted medical device for treating obstructive sleep apnea showed that the device improved the conditions of most patients. ImThera said 10 of 13 patients in a clinical study in Belgium responded to the therapy, which uses electrical neurostimulation to keep the tongue from blocking the airway of sleeping patients. The company said its treatment did not awaken patients and was not painful. The device has been approved for use in much of Europe, but not in the United States.

—San Diego-based MediciNova (NASDAQ: MNOV) said the National Institute on Drug Abuse has awarded funding for a mid-stage clinical trial to study the use of ibudilast for the treatment of methamphetamine addiction. The support builds on preliminary work the company has done with UCLA. Preclinical studies have shown the drug may prevent the activation of certain cells in the central nervous system that have been linked to drug dependence.

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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