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San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Zogenix, Ignyta, AnaptysBio, & More

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important role in bringing together San Diego’s talented people, innovative technology, and capital. In an interview with Mike Freeman of U-T San Diego, McKee said, “It is clear that finding capital has been a challenge, and it is clear that finding great teams has been a challenge. So I believe there is still a lot of relevance for an organization like Connect that is highly focused on the two big constituents, the entrepreneurs and our members.”

—[Updated to show trial is evaluating IV delivery] San Diego-based Tocagen said the first patient has been dosed in a clinical trial evaluating intravenous delivery of its experimental gene therapy for patients with the most common and aggressive form of primary brain cancer, known as high-grade glioma (including glioblastoma multiforme). The multi-center study is evaluating the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of a promising new type of treatment for patients who now have few treatment options, and who typically survive less than eight months. The study is intended to test ascending doses of a new gene therapy that would be administered before, during, and after surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Qualcomm Life, the digital health subsidiary of San Diego-based Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), said its 2net wireless health IT platform has been adopted by Tunstall Healthcare, a UK-based company that provides technology-based healthcare services. Rick Valencia, the general manager of Qualcomm Life, told IDG News that Tunstall is the first company to pick Qualcomm’s Life 2net system over a set of similar products from competitors.  Tunstall provides an electronic lifeline for the elderly and other people suffering from health risks, as well as for remote medical care.

—Shares of San Diego-based La Jolla Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ: LJPC), which had been trading below $11 a share, soared by 65 percent to about $18 after the company reported positive results in a mid-stage trial of its experimental drug candidate for treating severe chronic kidney disease. By the end of last week, trading in the company’s stock had settled below $15 a share . The company said its drug, GCS-100, met its main goal of improving kidney function.

—Debate over the safety of Zohydro ER—the pure hydrocodone painkiller developed by San Diego-based Zogenix (NASDAQ: ZGNX)—intensified last week as pharmacies began dispensing Zohydro over the protests of addiction-treatment advocates and others who fear it will add to the nation’s growing problem of prescription drug abuse. FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told Senate lawmakers at a hearing Thursday that the opioid painkiller fills an “important and unique niche” for treating patients with debilitating, chronic pain. Later that day, the AP reported that Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia introduced a bill that would force the FDA to withdraw the drug and prohibit the agency from approving any similar medications unless the drug has been designed to thwart drug abuse. Meanwhile, Stamford, CT-based Purdue Pharma said it would soon seek regulatory approval to sell a tamper-resistant formulation of hydrocodone.

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