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

6/20/13Follow @bvbigelow

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retrovirus to produce the enzyme cytosine deaminase (CD) in the brains of patients with brain cancer, including those with the aggressive malignancy known as glioblastoma multiforme. The CD enzyme converts an extended-release formulation of a widely used antifungal drug into 5-fluorouracil, an FDA-approved anticancer drug. The approach has the potential to produce higher concentrations of the anticancer drug in tumor cells.

—San Diego’s MediciNova (NASDAQ: MNOV) said an early stage trial of its experimental compound for treating drug addition, known as MN-166 (ibudilast), is safe and suggests that MN-166 reduces the neurotoxic inflammation caused by methamphetamine abuse. Long-term meth use can lead to memory loss, aggression, psychotic behavior, and other medical problems. The FDA granted “fast track” status earlier this year to ibudilast for treating methamphatamine dependence, after MediciNova had a setback with its lead drug compound.

Verdezyne, an industrial biotechnology company based in Carlsbad, CA, said it has entered into collaboration with Malaysian Biotechnology Corp. to establish its first biochemical production facility in Malaysia. The two companies disclosed no financial terms when they announced the deal at BIO’s 10th Annual World Congress for Industrial Biotechnology in Montreal. In a statement, Verdezyne said it is optimistic that its presence in Malaysia will open new opportunities with a variety of potential partners in the palm oil industry.

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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