San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Vical, Sequenom, Sophiris, and More

8/23/13Follow @bvbigelow

There was a lot of news for this cowboy to round up in San Diego’s life sciences sector this week. Applied Proteomics and Acutus Medical each raised $28 million from venture investors, while Vical and Sequenom disclosed substantial staff cuts. Here’s my rundown of the good, bad, and ugly.

—San Diego’s Vical (NASDAQ: VICL) said it would lay off 47 employees, or roughly 39 percent of its workforce, as part of a restructuring following the recent failure of its lead drug candidate in a late-stage trial of patients with melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Vical CEO Vijay Samant said the restructuring is needed to conserve the company’s available cash, which was $70 million at the end of June. Vical will have about 74 employees following the restructuring, which is intended to focus on infectious disease vaccine programs.

—San Diego’s Applied Proteomics raised $28 million in a Series C round of financing to advance diagnostics technology—an ambitious idea that combines the capabilities of advanced mass spectrometry with big data. The company, founded by USC cancer specialist David Agus and computing visionary Danny Hillis, said it will use the capital to commercialize its system for accurately measuring all the protein fragments in a drop of blood. The Malaysian conglomerate Genting Berhad led the latest round, and was joined by existing investors Domain Associates and Vulcan Capital, the investment vehicle of billionaire Paul Allen.

—San Diego’s Acutus Medical said it closed its Series B round at $28 million, adding another $7 million since June 25th, when Acutus said it had raised $21 million from a new investor, OrbiMed Advisors and existing investors Index Ventures and Advent Ventures. The announcement adds GE Ventures as another lead investor in the round. The medical device company is developing a minimally invasive cardiac catheter for treating cardiac arrhythmias.

—Shares of San Diego’s Sophiris Bio (NASDAQ: SPHS) have regained some yardage lost last Friday, when the company made its IPO debut on the Nasdaq market (in a switch from the Toronto Stock Exchange). The biotech, which is developing 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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