San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Tandem Diabetes, Ligand, and More

10/10/13Follow @bvbigelow

The IPO market for life sciences startups in San Diego and elsewhere remains hot, and diabetes device maker Tandem Diabetes Care joined the local parade of IPOs. We’ve got the overview, along with a wrap-up of the rest of San Diego’s life sciences news.

—San Diego-based Tandem Diabetes Care filed for a $100 million IPO, and plans to use the proceeds to expand its sales and marketing, fund additional R&D, and expand manufacturing of its innovative insulin pump, designed as a consumer friendly “smart” device. Tandem Diabetes plans to trade on the Nasdaq market under the ticker symbol TNDM.

—San Diego’s PharmAkea Therapeutics said it had reached a comprehensive funding and partnering agreement with Celgene to identify and develop new small molecule drugs for treating cancer and fibrotic diseases. Celgene said it would provide $35 million to PharmAkea for the next three years, with an option to extend their partnering agreement and provide additional funding. Celgene also will take an equity stake in PharmAkea and holds an exclusive option to acquire the company. At the same time, PharmAkea said it had secured $10 million in venture funding from San Francisco-based Bay City Capital. Creached a separate funding deal

Independa, a San Diego healthcare IT startup providing Web-based services to help families monitor their elders, said it has secured $1.85 million of a $2.25 million Series B financing round led by City Hill Ventures, the San Diego life sciences venture firm. City Hill also provided most of the $5 million Series A financing that Independa disclosed at the beginning of the year. Independa plans to use the latest capital to expand its sales and marketing, innovation and product development, and look for strategic partnership opportunities.

—San Diego-based NeuroVigil said it is opening a research lab at NASA Research Park in Mountain View, CA, where it plans to develop innovative technologies that can help patients with ALS and other disorders affecting the central nervous system. The wireless diagnostics company has developed technology that can be used to characterize brain activity, and to test patients’ brainwaves for telltale signs of neurodegenerative disorders, brain tumors, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other neurological ailments.

—At the BIO Investor Forum in San Francisco, Dave Thomas, BIO’s director of industry research and programs, argued in his opening remarks that the proliferation of life science IPOs represents a “boom,” not a “bubble.” In a BioWorld account of the talk, Thomas said, “If it was a bubble, the smallest companies, and the riskiest, would be outperforming.” Instead, market attention has been directed to larger companies that are producing results, and the smaller companies have actually been lagging in investment dollars. “This is not the type of behavior you’d see in a bubble,” Thomas said.

—San Diego’s Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: LGND) said it has obtained FDA approval to initiate clinical development for its Glucagon Receptor Antagonist program with LGD-6972 for treating type 2 diabetes mellitus. The company plans to initiate Phase I clinical testing in the fourth quarter of 2013.

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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