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San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Evoke, Halozyme, Biocept, and More

Xconomy San Diego — 

The life sciences are on a roll in San Diego, as more companies line up to go public. We have the latest on local IPOs, along with the rest of the local industry news.

—Healthcare IPOs are back, according to EY’s U.S. IPO Insights Report. The quarterly report issued by the firm previously known as Ernst & Young says healthcare was the most active industry sector during the third quarter, with 21 healthcare IPOs generating more than $2.4 billion in proceeds. The cumulative total for all types of IPOs throughout the country so far this year is 160, a number that already surpasses the 137 IPOs for the entire year of 2012. It is the highest volume since 2007.

—Speaking of IPOs, San Diego’s Evoke Pharma (NASDAQ: EVOK) began trading Wednesday, opening at $11.15 after pricing 2.1 million shares of its common stock at $12, the low end of the expected range of $12 to $14, and yielding an initial market cap of roughly $69 million. Investors include Domain Associates, Latterell Venture Partners, and Windamere Venture Partners. Evoke shares closed at $11.70 in regular trading today. One extraordinary aspect of the offering is that Evoke has only two full-time employees, and has outsourced development of its only product, a new formulation of metoclopramide as a nasal spray for treating symptoms associated with acute and recurrent diabetic gastroparesis.

Biocept, a San Diego company with technology for collecting and analyzing circulating tumor cells, said in a filing disclosed earlier this week that it looks to raise as much as $23 million in an initial public offering. Biocept was founded in 1997, and plans to list on the Nasdaq market under the symbol BIOC. Renaissance Capital said Biocept submitted its plans for an IPO confidentially on August 19.

—San Diego-based PatientSafe Solutions, which provides technology that helps improve nursing care, said it has raised an additional $7 million from EDBI, the investment arm of the Singapore Economic development Board. With this latest cash, Patient Safe has raised a total of $27 million in a new Series C round disclosed in January. PatientSafe developed a handheld smart device to help nurses manage their clinical care workflow, guide patient care, coordinate tasks and communicate with other nurses and doctors, and to collect and record patient vital signs and other data.

—San Diego’s Lumena Pharmaceuticals said it has initiated a global clinical program to evaluate its drug candidate LUM001 in children with Alagille syndrome, a genetic disorder that can affect the liver, heart, and other parts of the body. Lumena said the first patient was enrolled in a mid-stage trial being done in the UK. In a separate statement, Lumena says the FDA designated LUM001 as an orphan drug for treatment of four rare cholestatic liver diseases, including Alagille, progressive familial intraheptic cholestasis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and primary scherosing cholangitis.

—San Diego’s Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HALO) said the commercial introduction of trastuzumab (Herceptin) using Halozyme’s recombinant human hyaluronidase has triggered a $10 million milestone payment from Roche. Halozyme said the drug was launched on Aug. 28 when the European Commission approved it for the treatment of patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

Janssen Healthcare Innovation introduced a free mobile app and Web-based platform designed to help anyone with almost any type of cell phone take their medications as prescribed. The Care4Today Mobile Health Manager was developed in San Diego and is intended for people who forget to take their meds—which is about half of us.

Curtana Pharmaceuticals, a San Diego biotech founded earlier this year, said it has secured a licensing agreement from UC San Diego for a new class of small-molecule drugs that target cancer stem cells as a potential treatment of glioblastoma (GBM) and other cancers. The original research was done in the lab of Santosh Kesari, who specializes in neurology and neuro-oncology. Sova Pharmaceuticals founder Gregory Stein is the founding CEO of Curtana.

—San Diego’s Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM) said it has hired Jefferies to review potential strategic alternatives for its genetic analysis business segment. The company said it does not plan to disclose or comment on developments regarding its review of strategic alternatives until further disclosure is deemed appropriate.

—San Diego-based Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) named Dr. Richard Klausner as senior vice president and Chief Medical Officer, reporting directly to CEO Jay Flatley. Illumina said Klausner will lead Illumina’s strategies for advancing genomics into clinical medicine and public health.

—Germany’s BASF acquired Verenium, the San Diego specialist in industrial enzymes, for about $62 million. Verenium holds a catalog of enzymes collected around the world, and generates more than $50 million from sales of certain enzymes that are used as industrial to make certain biochemical reactions and processes possible.

—San Diego’s Aethlon Medical said the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has exercised an option to extend work on a dialysis-like device that could be used to reduce the incidence of sepsis, a potentially fatal bloodstream infection. Aethlon said the extension would provide more than $1.5 million to advance the program.