West Coast Biotech Roundup: Mapp Bio, Calico, Alder, VentiRx & More

9/4/14Follow @alexlash

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not based on any new data, but that “the projected profile” of the drug “did not meet [Bristol's] criteria” to start a Phase 3 trial. Alder shares closed Wednesday at $14.52, down 14.5 percent.

—Roche CEO Severin Schwan got personally involved in his company’s final push to acquire Brisbane, CA-based InterMune (NASDAQ: ITMN) for $8.3 billion in a deal that was announced August 25. After InterMune rejected Roche’s $70-per-share offer, which was $13 more than any competing bid, Schwan called InterMune CEO Daniel Welch in mid-August with the final $74-per-share figure. For his stubbornness, Welch has earned a payout of nearly $36 million. More details are in a regulatory document InterMune filed August 29, which was reported the next day by the San Francisco Business Times.

—Danish diabetes specialist Novo Nordisk said Tuesday it was ending its inflammatory disorder R&D program, which means a loss of 63 jobs at its Seattle Inflammation Research Center, a company spokesman told Xconomy. The spokesman added, however, that Novo isn’t bolting Seattle altogether. Its research center will stay open, and the 63 positions being cut don’t constitute all of the jobs there. (He didn’t specify how many people staffed the site.) Novo will cut 400 employees total, with other job losses occurring in Denmark and China.

—San Diego-based Conatus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CNAT) said it began two mid-stage clinical trials for its lead investigational compound, emricasan. One trial will examine the drug in patients with liver cirrhosis; the second will evaluate the drug in cirrhosis patients with portal hypertension. The company said data from both trials are expected by the second half of 2015.

—San Diego’s Sophiris Bio (NASDAQ: SPHS) said it has completed enrollment in a late-stage trial for its lead drug candidate proaerolysin, a genetically-modified recombinant protein under development to treat enlarged prostates. In a statement, CEO Randy Woods said the pivotal trial is on schedule and a preliminary analysis should be done later this year. A complete data analysis would take another year. Sophiris has been developing proaerolysin as an alternative treatment to existing drug therapies that can lead to erectile dysfunction or cardiovascular side effects.

—Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) said this week it has submitted two drugs to European regulators for marketing approval. The first is talimogene laherparepvec, an immunotherapy that Amgen wants to sell as a treatment for metastatic melanoma. If approved, Amgen claims it would be the first oncolytic viral immunotherapy to reach the market. It would also provide at least some validation of Amgen’s billion-dollar acquisition of Woburn, MA-based BioVex in 2011. Amgen’s second submission this week is evolocumab, a monoclonal antibody that inhibits PCSK9 and could help people with high cholesterol clear the “bad” type of cholesterol, or LDL, from their blood.

—Edico Genome, founded in San Diego last year to accelerate the way genomic data gets processed, said it has sold its first Dragen Bio-IT processor to Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM), a San Diego company that provides prenatal diagnostics services. Edico says its technology can reduce the time required to analyze whole genome sequencing data from next-generation sequencers from 24 hours to 18 minutes. Edico and Sequenom recently completed a proof-of-concept study that compares results from the Dragen processor with Sequenom’s standard analysis software. Results will be presented at the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting in October.

—San Diego’s Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA) said the FDA has granted orphan drug status to APD811, a new drug candidate the company has been developing to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. In a statement, senior vice president Craig Audent said that Arena aims to move APD811 into a mid-stage trial later this year. The orphan drug designation enables Arena to claim a variety of drug development incentives, like longer market exclusivity.

—BioLegend, a private San Diego company that provides antibodies and reagents for biomedical research, said it acquired Covance Antibody Services, a business operated by Dedham, MA-based Covance. Covance Antibody develops and manufactures antibodies and research reagents for neuroscience, immunopathology, cell biology, epitope tags, and immunohistochemistry detection. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Xconomy San Diego Editor Bruce V. Bigelow contributed to this report.

 

 

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

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