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San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Tandem Diabetes, Santarus, & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

How the health care community reacts to the arrival of the nonprofit Nutrition Science Initiative could be an interesting experiment in itself. We have details about NuSI, along with the rest of San Diego’s life sciences news.

—San Diego insulin pump maker Tandem Diabetes Care has raised $36.4 million in a new round of equity financing targeting as much as $50 million, according to a recent regulatory filing. The FDA cleared the company’s wearable insulin pump in November. The latest cash infusion brings total venture capital funding for the company to more than $100 million. Existing Investors include Delphi Ventures, Domain Associates, HLM Venture Partners, Second Technology Capital Investors, and TPG Biotech.

—A nonprofit organization with the lofty goal of using rigorous and nonpartisan science to clearly explain how diet affects obesity, diabetes, and related diseases announced that it’s setting up camp in San Diego. The Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) intends to fund nutrition research that applies rigorous scientific experimentation to the field, and communicate its findings to the public and decision makers. The initiative is backed by a multi-million dollar commitment for two years from a foundation created by the billionaire hedge fund manager John Arnold. Co-founder Gary Taubes blogs about the idea here.

—Georgia Proton Treatment Holdings, a subsidiary of San Diego-based Advanced Particle Therapy, has raised $30.8 million of a planned $93 million financing, according to a regulatory filing. The company is building the first proton therapy facility in the state of Georgia. The $200-million project with Emory Healthcare is expected to be the first facility in Georgia to offer advanced proton therapy for cancer patients. Advanced Particle Therapy has been working to build similar facilities throughout the U.S. In San Diego, construction of the Scripps Proton Therapy Center began in mid-2010.

—San Diego-based Santarus (NASDAQ: SNTS) said that rifamycin, its experimental antibiotic treatment for travelers’ diarrhea, met the main goal in a late-stage trial. The company said its drug was generally well tolerated. Santarus acquired rights to develop and market rifamcin in the United States in 2008 from Cosmo Technologies. About 10 million international travelers develop diarrhea primarily caused by bacteria every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nasseo, the San Diego-based startup that won the UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge in June with its bonding technology for dental and orthopedic implants, has raised $154,000 from investors, according to a recent regulatory filing. The company, which plans to raise a total of $308,000, says its technology provides implant-to-bone bonding that is significantly stronger than conventional bonds.

SpectraScience, a San Diego medical device company developing “optical biopsy” technology for detecting cancer, has raised about $260,000 of a planned round of $1.5 million, according to a recent regulatory filing. The company’s technology combines a low-power, fiber-optic blue laser with computerized spectroscopy. Since I profiled the company in 2009, Michael Oliver has stepped in as CEO.

— The National Institutes of Health named two scientists at the Salk Institute, Björn Lillemeier and Axel Nimmerjahn, as recipients of the 2012 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, part of a “High Risk-High Reward” program the NIH began in 2007. The Salk Institute said Lillemeier and Nimmerjahn will each receive $1.5 million over a period of five years. Nimmerjahn is a physicist and the award will support his research into microglia, the resident immune cells in the brain. Lillemeier is a biochemist studying signal transduction in the plasma membrane of T lymphocytes.