Exelixis Gets $60M from Bristol, Genentech Surpasses Original Herceptin, Synosia Pockets $30M, & More Bay Area Life Sciences News

10/15/10Follow @xconomy

News on cancer drugs, stem cells, and the rare item about promising drugs for Parkinson’s disease crossed our desk this week.

—South San Francisco-based Exelixis (NASDAQ: EXEL) rebounded a bit from its rough summer when it said this week it has raked in a $60 million payment through a new partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb. Back in June, Bristol walked away from a deal to co-develop Exelixis’ lead cancer drug candidate, and CEO George Scangos left for the top job at Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec shortly thereafter.

Fate Therapeutics, the San Diego-based stem cell company co-founded by Stanford University researcher Phil Beachy and a bunch of other big-name scientists, said this week it struck its first big partnership with Becton Dickinson to distribute its technology. The two companies will seek to get Fate’s technology for making induced pluripotent stem cells into the hands of more academic and industry labs.

Synosia Therapeutics, a biotech with operations in South San Francisco and Basel, Switzerland, said this week it formed an alliance with Belgium-based UCB to develop a couple of drug candidates for Parkinson’s disease. The deal could be worth as much as $725 million in milestone payments over time. Synosia also said it filled up the corporate coffers with a $30 million venture round (with $20 million of that coming from UCB).

—South San Francisco-based Genentech shared some very impressive data at a European medical meeting which showed its supercharged version of trastuzumab (Herceptin) was able to beat the original drug in a head-to-head study. The experimental treatment, T-DM1, is designed to carry potent toxins directly to tumors, a form of targeted chemotherapy. Data is still preliminary, but the new drug was better at shrinking tumors, and offered patients fewer side effects than a regimen of the original drug and standard chemo.

Cell Biosciences, the Santa Clara, CA-based maker of life sciences instruments, supplies and software, said this week it has acquired Toronto-based Convergent Bioscience for $12 million, and also raised $20 million in venture financing in connection with the deal.

—And lastly, we had a couple of op-eds from San Francisco biotech leaders well worth checking out if you missed them. QB3′s Reg Kelly talked about how universities can help address “Big Pharma’s Wicked Problem,” and BayBio’s Gail Maderis argued against Proposition 24, a ballot initiative that she says will hurt all sorts of businesses in California if it passes.

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