San Diego Life Sciences News: Trius, Optimer, aTyr, Ligand, and More

8/1/13Follow @bvbigelow

It’s been a week of big deals for San Diego’s life sciences sector. I also got an update on Connect CEO Duane Roth, who remains hospitalized with a head injury.

—Lexington, MA-based Cubist (NASDAQ: CBST) agreed to pay over $1.2 billion to buy San Diego’s Trius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TSRX) and Optimer Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OPTR), which moved its headquarters from San Diego to Jersey City, NJ late last year. Optimer has an FDA-approved antibiotic, fidaxomicin (Dificid) for treating C. difficile-related intestinal infections that are problematic at hospitals and nursing homes. Trius is nearing FDA approval for an antibiotic that treats MRSA, another antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection often acquired in hospitals. Cubist agreed to pay $707 million for Trius, and $535 million to buy Optimer.

Domain Associates, the life sciences venture firm based in San Diego and Princeton, NJ, and Rusnano Mednvest, a subsidiary of the Russian state technology developer Rusnano, joined with other venture investors to sink $55 million in ReVision Optics, a Lake Forest, CA-ophthalmic company. Since Domain and Rusnano formed a partnership last year, they have participated in five U.S. funding deals that totaled $173 million, including investments in San Diego-based Lithera and CoDa Therapeutics.

—San Diego-based aTyr Pharma said it has raised $59 million in a combination of new equity and debt financing. ATyr plans to use the proceeds to stage multiple human proof-of-concept trials of drugs based on a new class of natural proteins called “physiocrines” in treating a variety of auto-immune disorders. Instead of blocking or inhibiting target molecules, physiocrines modulate the body’s natural immune response. ATyr says physicrines offer advantages to existing anti-inflammatory drugs through better selectivity, efficacy, and reduced side effects

Duane Roth, the Connect CEO and former San Diego pharmaceutical executive, remains in intensive care at the UC San Diego Medical Center more than a week after he sustained a head injury while bicycling in the Cuyamaca Mountains east of San Diego. MRI diagnostic imaging showed no apparent brain damage, but he remains sedated, according to his brother, Ted Roth. While doctors see nothing that would prevent Duane Roth from a good recovery, Ted Roth told … 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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