San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Optimer, CareFusion, Senomyx & More

10/11/12Follow @bvbigelow

Here’s our latest roundup of news from San Diego’s life sciences community.

—It took awhile, but San Diego’s Pathway Genomics appears to have recovered from the ill effects of a 2010 letter from the FDA that more or less brought its business to a halt. Under a revised strategy, the company has been forming partnerships to provide physicians and their patients with genetic reports that screen for an individual’s response to prescribed drugs, propensity for complex disease, and other genetic conditions. This week, Pathway Genomics said its latest partnership is with the exclusive Scripps Center for Executive Health in La Jolla. That market demographic is quite a contrast from Pathway Genomics’ plan in 2010 to sell a personal genome test kit through Walgreens stores.

—San Diego’s Optimer Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: OPTR) said it is selling its remaining stake in Optimer Biotechnology, its Taiwanese affiliate, for $60 million. In April, Optimer Pharmaceuticals ousted Michael Chang, its chairman and a co-founder, and fired the CFO, and another executive, citing compliance and conflict-of-interest issues related to Optimer Biotechnology shares awarded to Chang. Optimer said proceeds from its 43 percent stake would be used to fund marketing of fidaxomicin (Dificid), its antibacterial drug for Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea.

CareFusion (NYSE: CFN), the San Diego-based medical technology company, said it has agreed to buy Intermed Equipamento Medico Hospitalar, a privately held respiratory equipment maker based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

—In his BioBeat column, Luke argues that the urban density and tight-knit nature of Boston’s life sciences community make it likely that “America’s Walking City” will eventually eclipse the San Francisco Bay Area as the nation’s No. 1 biotech hub. He writes, “When I travel to Boston, all I need is a hotel room, a subway pass, and good walking shoes to pack an amazingly efficient day of meetings with innovators.” In San Francisco or San Diego, he says, “you have to rent a car (often way overpriced) and spend a fair amount of time traveling around suburban office parks, sitting in traffic.”

Senomyx (Nasdaq: SNMX), the San Diego tastemaker (literally!), said the European Union has given its regulatory approval to the biotech company’s four initial “savory flavors,” along with its S2383 flavor ingredient. The company says S2383 is a flavor ingredient that restores the taste profile in products that have reduced amounts of sucralose, the intense artificial sweetener. In a statement, Senomyx CEO Kent Snyder says the savory flavors “can be used in a variety of food products including sauces, frozen foods, cooking aids, soups, and snack foods.”

—San Diego-based Cytori Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CYTX) said the first patient to use the company’s technology for treating a severe form of heart failure began last month in Minneapolis. In a statement, Cytori says it is the first FDA-approved trial in the U.S. to evaluate adipose-derived stem and regenerative cells (ADRCs) for heart disease. Cytori’s therapy uses a patient’s own regenerative cells, processed using the company’s technology.

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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