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West Coast Biotech Roundup: Otonomy, Oncothyreon, Gilead, & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

Life sciences news pummeled the West Coast last week like a series of storms barreling out of the North Pacific. Here’s our roundup:

—Otonomy (NASDAQ OTIC), a San Diego biotech developing new treatments for diseases and disorders of the ear, said Friday the FDA approved its antibiotic gel for treating ear infections among children. It’s the company’s first drug to win FDA approval. Otonomy’s ciprofloxacin otic suspension (Otiprio) was approved as a single-dose, physician-administered treatment among children undergoing tympanostomy tube placement.

—Oncothyreon (NASDAQ: ONTY), a Seattle microcap developing new cancer therapeutics, got a lesson in writing clearly last week, after releasing results from ongoing trials of its drug for treating HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. Oncothyreon’s share price fell over 25 percent as analysts struggled to understand what was described as a “muddled press release” and “confusing data.” Oncothyeron’s stock was trading around $3.13 a share before the announcement and around $2.35 at the end of week.

Cerberus Capital Management invested $105 million for a majority stake in Redwood City, CA-based PaxVax, a specialty vaccine company focused on infectious diseases. The deal enables PaxVax to eliminate debt, and allows the company to grow its business for Vivotif, an FDA-approved typhoid vaccine licensed in 27 countries, and to launch Vaxchora, its vaccine for cholera. Cerberus plans to retain the PaxVax management team and says it supports the company’s R&D strategy and commitment to expanding access to vaccines in the developing world.

—Laguna Pharmaceuticals, which relocated to San Diego from Cleveland, OH, in February with $30 million in new venture funding, shut down after safety concerns emerged in a Phase 3 clinical trial for its drug, intended to treat atrial fibrillation. The drug—a 1,4-dialkylpiperazine derivative (Vanoxerine)—was the only drug Laguna had under development.

—The La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology and San Diego’s HardTech Labs have formed a joint venture called HTL Life to operate a accelerator program for healthtech startups developing next-generation technologies in … Next Page »

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