San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Aragon, Santarus, Tocagen, and More

6/20/13Follow @bvbigelow

The $1 billion buyout of San Diego’s Aragon Pharmaceuticals is expected to greatly expand Johnson & Johnson’s drug pipeline for treating prostate cancer. We have that at the top of San Diego’s life sciences news, along with other developments over the past week.

—Moving to capitalize on the success of its prostate cancer drug, abiraterone acetate (Zytiga), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) signed a definitive agreement to acquire San Diego-based Aragon Pharmaceuticals for an upfront cash payment of $650 million and as much as $350 million in milestone payments. Aragon specializes in developing drugs for hormone-driven cancers, and the deal could extend J&J’s reign with Aragon’s pipeline of drugs targeting castration-resistant prostate cancer. Before the deal closes, Aragon said it plans to spin out its drug program targeting metastatic breast cancer in a newly formed biotech called Seragon Pharmaceuticals. The billion-dollar deal had one major side-effect—the share price of San Francisco-based Medivation (NASDAQ: MDVN) took a hit on the news. Medivation is a rival developer of drugs for hormone-driven prostate cancer.

—San Diego-based Santarus (NASDAQ: SNTS) said the FDA has accepted the application it submitted with partner Pharming Group NV to commercialize recombinant human C1 esterase inhibitor (Ruconest) in the United States. The biologic was developed as a treatment for a rapid, dangerous swelling of the skin known as hereditary angioedema. The FDA’s response is expected by April, 2014.

—In a separate announcement, Santarus CEO Gerald Proehl was named as the 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in life sciences in San Diego.

Voices Against Brain Cancer, a nonprofit group based in New York, awarded a $300,000 grant to San Diego-based Tocagen to support its experimental gene therapy treatment for patients with recurrent glioma brain cancer. Tocagen is now enrolling patients in an early stage clinical trial that uses a … Next Page »

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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