San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Isis, Neurocrine, MEI, and More
Isis Pharmaceuticals extended its reach in neurological drugs this week by signing its fourth collaboration agreement with Biogen Idec. We have that and the rest of San Diego’s life sciences news wrapped up here.
—Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB), the Weston, MA-based maker of multiple sclerosis drugs, agreed to pay $100 million to antisense specialist Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS) of Carlsbad, CA, as part of a six-year collaboration to develop neurology drugs. It is the fourth deal in what both Isis and Biogen described as a series of successful partnerships. Isis COO Lynne Parshall told analysts during a conference call, “This program exemplifies the synergy between the two teams and the speed with which we can create new drugs.” Isis and Biogen signed their first deal to work together on spinal muscular atrophy a little more than two years ago.
—Neurocrine Biosciences (NASDAQ: NBIX) stock plunged by $4.96 a share, or nearly 30 percent, after the San Diego biotech reported its experimental drug for treating abnormal involuntary movements failed to meet the primary goal in a mid-stage trial. In a statement late Monday, the company said a lower dosage of Neurocrine’s tardive dyskinesia drug didn’t help patients improve symptoms, although a higher dose was effective.
—Solulink, a San Diego startup that supplies biochemistry tools for life sciences labs, named Jack Ball as CEO. Ball was previously the chief commercial officer at Accuri Cytometers of Ann Arbor, MI, before it was acquired by BD Biosciences in 2011. Before that, and he was the CEO of Seattle’s Amnis Corp. before it was acquired by Life Technologies.
—Biocept, a San Diego diagnostics and laboratory services company that specializes in identifying circulating cancer cells, named Michael Nall as CEO. The San Diego biotech investor David Hale has been serving as Biocept’s executive chairman since early 2011. Stephen Coutts, who was CEO when I profiled the company, left Biocept at the end of 2010. Nall was most recently the general manager of North American sales and marketing for Clarient, the GE healthcare company.
—San Diego’s MEI Pharma (NASDAQ: MEIP), said it acquired a cancer drug candidate designated PWT143 from privately held Pathway Therapeutics for an undisclosed upfront payment and no future milestone or royalty obligations. MEI Pharma said the compound is a kinase inhibitor, with a target that plays a critical role in the proliferation and survival of hematologic cancer cells. MEI Pharma said it plans to file an Investigational New Drug application for the compound by the end of 2014.