San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Arena, Organovo, Isis, & More
[Corrected 6/15/13, 11:45 pm. See below.] It seemed to be a week of positive news for San Diego’s life sciences community. We have the details wrapped up here.
—CalBio 2013 convened at the San Diego Convention Center yesterday with an opening keynote talk by J. Craig Venter, the human genome pioneer and founding CEO of San Diego’s Synthetic Genomics. In response to a question about the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to prohibit patents on naturally occurring genes, Venter said, “It sort of reaffirms what all of us thought was the situation, which is that naturally occurring DNA, natural human genome sequences, natural genes, are not patentable material.” Venter called the ruling, which says synthetically created DNA strands are patent-eligible, “a very positive position for the biotech industry.” The conference ends today.
—San Diego’s Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA) began marketing lorcaserin hydrochloride (the long-awaited weight-loss drug known as Belviq) this week, with the help of Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai. Arena submitted its new drug application for the compound in 2009. Arena said it has received $65 million in milestone payments from Eisai and is eligible to get almost $1.2 billion in purchase price adjustments and other payments based on annual net sales of the drug. Eisai has estimated that Belviq sales could amount to $150 million over the next six months.
—[Corrects spelling of Tamar Howson] San Diego’s Organovo, which has been developing technology for a 3-D bioprinter, said a couple of recent changes on its board has made the company eligible to move from the over-the counter-market to a listing on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq. The company named Tamar Howson, a well-known pharma business development executive, as a board member. Organovo also said that SternAegis Ventures CEO Adam Stern, who joined the board in early 2012, had resigned—leaving a majority of directors classified as independent.
—As a case study in frugality, San Diego’s Orphagen Pharmaceuticals has run counter to the conventional business model for a drug development startup. Instead of raising hundreds of millions of dollars to fund R&D for drugs that target orphan receptors, Orphagen has scraped by on federal grants and one crucial pharmaceutical partnership.