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San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Acadia, RQx, and Venture Funding

Xconomy San Diego — 

Venture funding for life sciences startups has been gradually declining in recent years, and Xconomy’s Luke Timmerman took a look at what that means in biotech hubs in San Diego and elsewhere. We have that news and more.

—The price of shares in Acadia Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ACAD) more than doubled (to more than $5 a share) in record trading Tuesday, after the San Diego company reported encouraging results of a late-stage trial of pimavanserin, its drug candidate for treating Parkinson’s disease psychosis. It was the biggest one-day increase in Acadia’s share price ever. Acadia said the drug met the primary and key secondary endpoints in the pivotal, late-stage trial, which the company had repeated at a cost of roughly $15 million, after a similar trial failed in 2009.

San Diego ranked third among the top five metropolitan regions receiving life sciences venture capital funding during the third quarter that ended Sept. 30, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, based on MoneyTree survey data we’ve already reported. The San Diego metro region raised $183 million in life sciences deals, while Boston raised $344 million and San Francisco landed $366 million. The report, which takes a closer look at life sciences funding nationwide, says the top five regions (which includes Chicago and Philadelphia) got two-thirds of the dollars invested in life sciences during the quarter. Biotech deals captured 83 percent of the dollars invested in the top five regions.

—In his BioBeat column, Xconomy’s Luke Timmerman provided a different take on VC investing in the life sciences, which has been declining in recent years. In a search of databases and other sources, he compiled a list of only 29 biotech startups in North America and the United Kingdom that have “a big idea, credible founders, and raised at least $5 million in first-time financing in 2012.” Luke wrote that he could find no companies in either San Diego or Seattle that met his criteria. Biocom CEO Joe Panetta told me there were numerous life sciences startups funded in San Diego this year. In an e-mail, Panetta told me, “We are collecting as complete a body of information as we can, and pondering how best to respond.”

—San Diego’s RQx Pharmaceuticals is looking for a big pharmaceutical partner, after spending the past year identifying hundreds of analogs of arylomycin, a natural compound that might represent a new class of broad-spectrum antibiotics. RQx Pharmaceuticals was founded last year on work done in the laboratory of Floyd Romesberg at The Scripps Research Institute, with funding from San Diego’s Avalon Ventures and Correlation Ventures.

—San Diego Xconomist Diego Miralles, who also heads J&J’s Janssen Healthcare Innovation, wrote in the Xconomist Forum about some of the steps that Janssen and other big pharmaceutical companies have been taking to foster innovation in the life sciences industry. Miralles said more than 200 companies around the world have inquired about space in the Janssen Labs accelerator, and 15 companies have now moved in.