Complete Genomics Goes Public, 23andMe Raises $22M, Genomic Health’s Dx Vision, & More Bay Area Life Sciences News

11/12/10Follow @xconomy

The stock market, and its lackluster appetite for new IPOs, was the story of the week on the biotech beat.

Complete Genomics, the Mountain View, CA-based company seeking to be a leader in the race to deliver complete human genome sequences for $1,000 or less, pulled the trigger on its initial public offering this week. The company (NASDAQ: GNOM) had hoped to set its IPO price at $12 to $14, but settled for $9, and then traded down 11 percent to $8.03 at the close of its first day on the market. This is the same trajectory that sequencing rival PacBio (NASDAQ: PACB) has followed in recent weeks, suggesting that we aren’t exactly seeing the second coming of a genomics bubble.

23andMe, the high-profile consumer genetics company across town in Mountain View, pocketed a cool $22 million in a Series C venture financing led by a blue-chip corporate firm, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, in addition to cash from existing investors New Enterprise Associates and Google Ventures. 23andMe said it plans to use some of the cash to do some hiring, and has posted 20 openings on its site.

BayBio held its annual Pantheon Awards last week, which I’m told drew a record crowd of 700 people. I’m kicking myself a bit that I didn’t travel down from Seattle for this event, in which Amgen and Abbott Laboratories won honors for innovations with new drugs and devices.

Genomic Health has been on a long journey to make the health care system put more weight behind Dx (diagnostics) instead of Rx (pharmaceuticals). I caught up with CEO Kim Popovits to hear her talk about how she thinks the Redwood City, CA-based company (NASDAQ: GHDX) can sustain the early momentum it has built up with its Oncotype Dx product, which predicts whether women with breast cancer are likely to relapse and whether they will benefit or not from chemotherapy.

—Lastly, my Boston-based colleague Ryan McBride posted another interesting update to the legal battle between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and Gatekeeper Pharmaceuticals, a Millbrae, CA-based biotech startup. This is a sticky situation. Dana-Farber indicated in its complaint that the Swiss drug giant Novartis, a longtime supporter of the cancer institute, has indicated that it is the rightful owner of the intellectual property optioned by Gatekeeper—and Dana-Farber now believes that claim to be valid. Naturally enough, Gatekeeper contests the claim—but its board and president differ over how to handle it, sparking another skirmish between them. This case, which Ryan first wrote about late last month, could have an influence over how wide-ranging corporate sponsorships of academic centers get structured.

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