Last week, there was only a trickle of life sciences news out of San Diego. This week the dam broke, and there’s a lot of news—including two IPO filings by San Diego biotechs.
—San Diego’s Sophiris Bio, a startup developing a new drug treatment for benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate, plans to raise almost $75 million through an initial public offering. Sophiris plans to use the proceeds to begin two pivotal trials of its drug, a genetically modified recombinant protein, with the first study scheduled to begin by mid-year.
—After dropping plans for an $86 million IPO two years ago, San Diego’s Ambit Biosciences is back again. The biopharmaceutical, focused on kinase-inhibiting drugs for cancer, autoimmune, and inflammatory diseases, hopes to raise $57.5 million, according to a regulatory filing. Ambit’s lead drug candidate, quizartinib, is under clinical development in patients with relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and in newly diagnosed AML patients.
—Saying “Our society needs more heroes who are scientists and researchers and engineers,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and other high-tech leaders named the first 11 recipients of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. The inaugural list includes Napoleone Ferrara, senior deputy director for basic sciences at the University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center. The prize comes with a $3 million cash award for each recipient.
—Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) said it is closing one of its R&D sites, which the world’s largest pharmaceutical company created in San Diego with its acquisition of CovX in late 2007. A Pfizer spokeswoman confirmed the CovX closure, which affects about 100 staffers, to Fierce Biotech and U-T San Diego. CovX specializes in drugs that combine a bioactive peptide, such as oxytocin or leptin, with an antibody.