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San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Ambit, Zogenix, Aethlon, and More

Xconomy San Diego — 

Assessing the extent of long-term brain damage from concussions in football and other impact sports can be difficult (to say the least) if the only way to determine whether an individual is suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is by autopsy. So it’s interesting when a little-known life sciences company like San Diego’s Aethlon Medical starts working with Boston University to develop a blood test for the kind of brain damage caused by blunt force trauma. We have that and the rest of San Diego’s life sciences news.

Daiichi Sankyo agreed to acquire San Diego’s Ambit Biosciences (NASDAQ: AMBI) for $315 million, adding the leukemia drug quizartinib, Ambit’s leading drug candidate, to the Japanese drugmaker’s lineup of cancer treatments. Daiichi Sankyo agreed to pay additional milestone payments that could bring total buyout costs to $410 million.

Zogenix (NASDAQ: ZGNX), the San Diego biotech that has come under criticism from addiction experts for its painkiller Zohydro, said it is seeking FDA approval for a new version that would be more difficult for drug abusers to snort or inject. Zogenix developed Zohydro as an extended-release formulation of pure hydrocodone in response to FDA warnings about drugs that combine hydrocodone with acetaminophen.

—San Diego’s Acutus Medical said it completed a $26.2 million financing round to advance development of its technology for imaging the heart and treating patients with an irregular heartbeat like atrial fibrillation. The company said it also plans to use the funding to expand its product line to include diagnostic catheters and new therapeutic products.

—San Diego-based NeuroGenetic Pharmaceuticals said the FDA has approved its application to begin clinical trials on NGP 555, a compound intended to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. NeuroGenetic was founded in 2009. The company said NGP 555 is its first compound to enter clinical trials.

— San Diego-based Aethlon Medical said it’s working with its subsidiary and the Boston University CTE Center to develop a diagnostic blood test that could identify the type of brain damage being found among deceased NFL football players. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that currently can only be diagnosed in an autopsy. If successful, Aethlon’s test could be used to detect CTE in living individuals.