West Coast Biotech Roundup: Lumena/Shire, Isis, Janssen Labs & More

5/16/14Follow @alexlash

A new wave of buyout fervor included the acquisition of San Diego’s Lumena Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Labs unveiled plans for a new incubator in South San Francisco, and Statos Genomics raised capital in Seattle. Here is the past week’s roundup of news up and down the left coast.

—San Diego’s Lumena Pharmaceuticals, founded in 2011 to develop oral drugs for treating rare liver disorders, agreed to a $260 million-plus buyout offer from Irish drug maker Shire. The deal helps Shire expand its business in gastrointestinal drugs. In addition to paying $260 million in cash upfront, Shire agreed to make an additional payment for the cash on Lumena’s balance sheet when the deal closes, as well as milestone payments as two Lumena drugs advance through clinical trials. The acquisition comes amid a wave of big pharma deal activity.

—Janssen Labs, part of the Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) healthcare empire, announced a new 30,000 square foot life sciences incubator in South San Francisco that could house up to 50 companies and potentially double the group’s nationwide capacity. Janssen Labs’ three current sites are in San Diego, San Francisco, and Cambridge.

—Xenoport (NASDAQ: XNPT) of Santa Clara, CA has licensed its alcohol abuse deterrent arbaclofen placarbil to Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals of Richmond, VA, for $20 million upfront and $125 million in potential milestone payments, plus royalties. Reckitt receives exclusive worldwide rights to the drug and plans to move it into a Phase 2b clinical study.

—Shares of Carlsbad, CA-based Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS) surged after the company reported encouraging results in a mid-stage trial of its antisense drug GCGRRx in patients with type 2 diabetes. Isis said patients achieved statistically significant reductions in blood sugar levels, with absolute mean reductions in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) greater than 2 percent at 200 milligrams and 1 percent at 100 milligrams after 13 weeks of treatment.

Stratos Genomics, a Seattle-based developer of low-cost gene sequencing technology, has raised $10 million of a planned $16 million investment round, according to a recent regulatory filing. The company previously raised over $13 million in the seven years since it was founded to advance its proprietary “sequencing-by-expansion” nanopore technology for both targeted and whole-genome sequencing.

—University of California, San Francisco researcher Alex Marson contributed work to a drug discovery program with ambitions to produce a treatment for multiple autoimmune diseases. Still a long way from human testing, the program, as Xconomy reported Monday, is the property of GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) via its Cambridge, MA-based subsidiary Tempero Pharmaceuticals.

—Tacoma, WA-based Revalesio has raised $13.5 million of a planned $40 million investment round to advance its technology, which generates charge-stabilized molecules in medical grade saline solution. The company, founded in 2000, says it is advancing the use of its novel product, which does not contain a traditional active pharmaceutical ingredient, for intravenous use in treating inflammatory diseases.

—Human Longevity, the genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic company founded in San Diego by human genome pioneer J. Craig Venter, named three leaders to its core scientific team. Details are here.

—San Diego-based Owaves, a digital health startup founded a year ago, introduced a calendar app for the iPad that is intended to help guide users to a healthier standard of living. The seed-stage company plans to use wireless health technology to help users adopt new measurements for health and wellness.

Bruce Bigelow and Ben Romano contributed to this roundup.

Alex Lash is Xconomy's National Biotech Editor. He is based in San Francisco. Follow @alexlash

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