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SD Biotech Roundup: Life Technologies, KFx Medical, Shire, & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

From dollops of cash to big project announcements, here is our roundup of San Diego life sciences news for the past week.

—Waltham,MA-based Alere (NYSE: ALR) recalled an additional 650,000 Triage cardiology screening tests after a FDA inspection of the company’s San Diego facility raised concerns about quality control. Alere recalled more than 803,000 tests last month, according to the Boston Business Journal. The diagnostic tests are used to diagnose heart failure and other conditions.

—Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE has unveiled plans to establish a design and manufacturing center of excellence in Singapore. It will be the only Life Technologies owned-and-operated instrument manufacturing facility outside the United States, and will produce next-generation genome sequencing and molecular diagnostic instruments. A spokeswoman for Life says the company’s Asia sales rose more than 9 percent last year, and the volume of items shipped per day in the region quadrupled.

—In his BioBeat column this week, Luke described how the movement toward “medical genomics,” also known as “clinical genomics,” has started to take off. Apart from the fierce competition among companies like San Diego’s Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) and Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE) to sequence genomes at $1,000 apiece, Luke said demand for personal genome analyses has been soaring at companies like Cambridge, MA-based Knome and Foundation Medicine.

—Kevin Rakin, the regenerative medicine president at Shire, told me the Irish pharmaceutical giant is spending well over $100 million on the first phase of a new San Diego facility—and he wants Shire’s regenerative medicine business be generating $1 billion in annual sales in five to seven years. Rakin says the goal is to make Shire a leading player in regenerative medicine, and the partner of choice for regenerative medicine startups.

—Carlsbad, CA-based KFx Medical, founded in 2003 to develop ways to fix tissues in a variety of orthopedic surgical procedures, said it got FDA clearance to market its medical device, a 5-millimeter anchor. The company says it will be able to expand into the rapidly growing market for foot & ankle repair. The venture-backed company’s investors include Alloy Ventures, Charter Life Sciences, Arboretum Ventures, Montreux Equity Partners, and MB Venture Partners.

—San Diego’s Sorrento Therapeutics, which is developing biotherapeutics for inflammation, cancer, and other conditions, said it landed a $300,000 Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer grant to advance its antibody treatment for Staph infections. The company says its approach disrupts “quorum sensing,” a bacterial communication process and a key factor in infectious virulence. Staphylococcus aureus infections include potentially the deadly methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) bacteria.

Independa, an emerging wireless health company in San Diego, said it will use the 2net Platform developed by Qualcomm’s (NASDAQ: QCOM) new Qualcomm Life subsidiary it its Artemis suite of monitoring technologies. The 2net technology is intended to help resolve interoperability issues by providing a cloud-based service that enables different wireless devices using different technology standards to share data from medical monitoring devices.

—The UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge awarded its top prize, which includes $57,000 in cash and professional services, to Nasseo, a San Diego medical device startup developing new technology for dental and orthopedic implants. Two startups developing anti-cancer treatments, Sonrgy and Uroboros Technologies, took second and third place, respectively.