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Healthcare Venture Investment Deals Climbing Back, Halozyme Sells Its Diagnostics Business, Dry Lab Biotechs Cluster in Carmel Valley, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

We took a long Columbus Day weekend here at Xconomy, but it didn’t shorten our roundup of life sciences news much. Here’s your latest update.

—Healthcare venture capital deals continue to climb back from their first-quarter plunge during the three months that ended September 30, according to the latest report from CB Insights, a New York firm that tracks investments in private companies. Venture firms invested $1.75 billion in 184 healthcare deals during the quarter, which sounds good, but it’s below the $1.9 billion that went into 192 healthcare companies during the same quarter of 2009.

—San Diego-based Synthetic Genomics and the nonprofit J. Craig Venter Institute are forming a new company called Synthetic Genomics Vaccines that will use the latest advances in synthetic biology and genomic sequencing to develop next-generation vaccines. The Venter Institute is contributing science and scientists, but no money.

—Albuquerque, NM-based Exagen Diagnostics is buying the San Diego-based diagnostics business of Cypress Bioscience (NASDAQ: CYPB) for as much as $8 million in upfront and milestone payments. Cypress also hopes to get additional future payments in the form of royalties on product sales.

—San Diego’s VentiRx, which also has operations in Seattle, said its lead drug candidate for nasal allergies helped to relieve common allergy symptoms in a clinical trial of 80 patients who were exposed to allergens in a scientifically controlled environment. The VentiRx drug is intended  to be the first once-weekly nasal spray for allergies.

—Luke found the geography of biotech has shifted as the business model has shifted toward the lean virtual company model. With biotechs outsourcing more and more of their research and development to clinical research organizations and others, he found a mini-cluster of more than a dozen biotechs that have no wet labs in the High Bluff Drive neighborhood of Carmel Valley.

—San Diego’s Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HALO) is restructuring its business to concentrate on three experimental drugs still in the pipeline, a strategic move that requires the company to lay off about 30 employees, or 25 percent of its workforce.

Aneesh Chopra, the nation’s first federal chief technology officer, talked about health IT and entrepreneurship in a speech last week in the San Francisco Bay Area. Chopra also talked to Xconomy San Francisco Editor Wade Roush about health IT, how entrepreneurs can benefit from government data sharing, and incentive prizes.