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

8/1/13Follow @bvbigelow

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me by phone yesterday his caregivers are moving slowly to give him time to heal.

—A pre-clinical trial of a gene therapy treatment that uses a nebulizer-like inhaler to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension is breathing new life into San Diego-based Celladon. The company said research done by scientists at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai showed that a deadly condition known as pulmonary arterial hypertension might be reversible by using an inhalable form of Celladon’s gene therapy product candidate. The study was published in the July 30 issue of the journal Circulation.

Sapphire Energy, the industrial biotech developing algae biofuel technology, has paid off the entire $54.5 million loan guarantee awarded to the company by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2009. Sapphire said it used the financing to develop its Columbus, NM-based “Green Crude Farm” to produce renewable crude oil—and completed the project “on time and on budget.”

—San Diego’s Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: LGND) said it expects to receive $2.7 million in potential development and regulatory milestone payments after licensing a new oral formulation of lasofoxifene to Azure Biotech. Ligand says it also stands to receive a 5 percent royalty on future net sales, and has retained rights to the drug originally developed by Pfizer.

—San Diego-based Trovagene (NASDAQ: TROV) said it closed a private sale of its common stock to an unidentified institutional investor, which generated gross proceeds of $15 million for the company, which has been developing molecular diagnostics technology. In a separate statement, Trovagene said it has adopted a digital a gene-sequencing system developed by RainDance Technologies of Billerica, MA, for eventual use in its CLIA laboratory.

—San Diego-based Medistem said it has entered into a collaboration with Reza Abdi, a kidney transplant specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Medistem will provide its Endometrial Regenerative Cells (ERCs) for Abdi’s research, which is expected to support FDA clearance to initiate clinical trials to use ERCs as a treatment for Type 1 Diabetes. The company said it currently has FDA clearance to initiate an early stage trial to use ERCs in patients with critical limb ischemia, a complication of diabetes.

—The price of shares in San Diego-based Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM) plunged by more than a third, to $3.30 from $4.69 a share, after the medical diagnostics specialist reported lower-than-expected revenue of $34.9 million and a bigger-than expected loss of $31 million in the second quarter. The company said a change in how it bills for diagnostic services led to a backup in accounts receivables, or money owed, for business transactions that had been booked.

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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