San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: IPOs, Illumina, KFx Medical, & More
The surge in U.S. initial public offerings has continued. According to the IPO experts at Renaissance Capital, there have been 44 healthcare IPOs across the country so far this year—the most in any sector. By my tally, at least 10 San Diego companies have filed for IPOs. Details on the latest filings are here, along with the rest of the local life sciences news from the past week.
—Celladon, the San Diego biopharmaceutical developing a gene therapy treatment for heart disease, has registered to go public. In a statement from the company, Celladon says the number of shares to be offered and pricing terms have yet to be decided. Celladon says it has filed its IPO registration statement with the SEC, but the filing has not yet become effective. Dozens of supporting exhibits are available on the SEC website, but not Celladon’s S-1 filing itself.
—San Diego’s Vital Therapies filed for an $86.3 million IPO, according to its SEC filing. The company said it is now conducting three late-stage clinical trials with its technology, an artificial liver. The company said its therapy is designed to help the patient’s own liver regenerate to a healthy state, or to stabilize the patient until transplant. Vital Therapies plans to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “VTL.” It did not disclose the stock price or volume it expects to trade.
—The flurry of S-1 registrations, which covers IPOs and other types of new stock offerings, also has included some convoluted life sciences deals. Mirati Therapeutics, for example, is a new San Diego biopharmaceutical company developing a line of oral cancer drugs based on kinase inhibitors that target specific mutations found only in cancer cells. In a filing with government regulators, Mirati says its stock began trading on the Nasdaq this summer (under the ticker symbol MRTX) following a stock swap with Montreal-based MethylGene that enabled the Canadian company to consolidate its operations and start over as a subsidiary of Mirati.
—Carlsbad, CA-based KFx Medical said a federal court jury in San Diego awarded KFx $29 million in a patent infringement lawsuit against Arthrex of Naples, FL. In a statement, KFx said the jury upheld the validity of its patents and found that Arthrex had infringed the KFx patents by promoting its SutureBridge and SpeedBridge rotator-cuff repair procedures. Privately held KFx is backed by Alloy Ventures, Charter Life Sciences, Arboretum Ventures, Montreux Equity Partners, and MB Venture Partners.
—Synthetic biology pioneer J. Craig Venter shared his vision of designing new biological systems with science writer Zoe Corbyn, who wrote an in-depth profile of Venter published by The Observer, the London Sunday newspaper. Venter is granting some interviews as he prepares for the grand opening of the new J. Craig Venter Institute facility in La Jolla, and to promote his second book, Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life.
—San Diego-based Illumina has licensed technology developed by scientists at the University of Washington that is capable of reading the sequence of a single DNA molecule. In the diagnostic system, DNA is pulled through a nanopore while an ion current transmitted through the pore electronically reads the DNA’s sequence. Illumina got exclusive worldwide rights to develop and market the technology, according to a UW statement.
—San Diego-based Trovagene (NASDAQ: TROV) said it will collaborate with an unnamed pharmaceutical company to evaluate its proprietary technology for detecting certain types of lung cancer mutations in patient urine samples. Trovagene says its diagnostic technology can identify specific types of epidermal growth factor receptor mutations from short fragments of DNA and RNA that spill out of diseased cells and pass into urine.
—Research findings published by a team of scientists from the UC San Diego School of Medicine identify a new biochemical marker in urine that is tied to diabetic kidney disease. The findings detailed in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology also serve as the foundation for a new clinical metabolomics platform being developed by ClinMet, an early stage company housed at the Janssen Labs facility in San Diego. UCSD’s Kumar Sharma, who led the research team, is ClinMet’s scientific founder. The company says its technology is identifying new biomarkers for kidney function and could be used to sharpen drug development and clinical trials related to chronic kidney disease, as well as to diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.