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San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Arena, Organovo, Isis, & More

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option to an exclusive worldwide license for XEN701, an antisense drug candidate intended to suppress the production of hepcidin, the peptide hormone (produced by the liver) that helps to regulate iron levels in the blood, anemia, and the body’s inflammatory response. The move triggers a $2 million payment from Xenon, which plans to develop the drug for patients with chronic kidney disease.

—Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE) said it has acquired Life Science Korea (LSK), a leading instrument distributor based in Seoul, South Korea. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Life Technologies, which is itself being acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific of Waltham, MA, in a $13.6 billion deal announced in April, said the LSK acquisition dovetails with its purchase of consumables distributor KDR and is part of the company’s strategy to sell directly to consumers in South Korea.

—San Diego’s Oberon Fuels, which has technology to produce a cleaner-burning alternative to diesel fuel, said it received a $500,000 grant from California’s San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to produce fuel-grade dimethyl ether (DME) at its small-scale production facility in Brawley, CA. Beginning this month, Oberon said its plant initially will produce 4,500 gallons of DME per day, which will be used in field trials by two heavy-duty Volvo trucks driven by Safeway. Until Oberon developed its new technology for DME production, the company said the fuel was too expensive for use as a transportation fuel in North America.

Domain Associates, the venture capital firm that specializes in life sciences investments, said Nimesh Shah has been promoted to partner in the firm’s San Diego office. Shah joined Domain in 2006. He is a co-founder and board member of Zyga Technology, and on the board of Benvenue Medical, Cotera, Miramar Labs, Sequent Medical, and Twelve (Foundry Newco VII). He also serves as a board observer at NeuroPace, ReVision Optics, and Tandem Diabetes Care.

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