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West Coast Bio Roundup: Cowboys, UCSD v. USC, Global Blood & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

[Corrected, 7/13/15, 12.33pm. See below.] How often does one of our roundups feature a real roundup? In my In Translation column this week, I profiled San Francisco Bay Area neuroscientist Ted Yednock, who is taking on the desert to rehabilitate a cattle ranch in central Nevada (above). He and his partner are also taking on their neighbors in a battle over water rights in their spring-fed valley. It’s a confluence of science, politics, and culture that doesn’t always favor the scientist, as Corey Goodman—another Bay Area neuroscientist-turned-entrepreneur-turned-rancher profiled in the piece—can report.

Before you head out to pasture this weekend, catch up with the rest of the week’s West Coast news…

—UC San Diego and the University of Southern California continued their tug-of-war over the $100 million Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study based at UCSD. UC alleges that former UCSD scientist Paul Aisen and USC conspired to hijack the study while USC was recruiting Aisen to lead its new Alzheimer’s institute. UCSD hired Aisen in 2007 to oversee the federally funded study, which was established at UCSD 24 years ago.

—Global Blood Therapeutics of South San Francisco, CA, filed for a $115 million IPO and said in its paperwork that it’s in the middle of a roughly 100-person Phase 1/2 trial for sickle cell disease, its lead program.

—San Mateo, CA-based Afferent Pharmaceuticals rounded up a $55 million Series C financing to push forward its lead drug, a treatment for chronic cough that should produce Phase 2b data in September. Fidelity led the round with participation from Jennison Associates, Redmile Group, New Leaf Ventures, and others.

—Tocagen, a San Diego biotech using gene therapy to treat brain cancer, said it received a “fast track” designation from the FDA for Toca 511 and Toca FC, in development to treat recurrent glioblastoma and anaplastic astrocytoma, respectively.

—San Francisco’s Medicines360, a non-profit developer of a contraceptive IUD, named medical device veteran Jessica Grossman as its new CEO. Earlier this year, Xconomy profiled the company’s efforts to launch its IUD with a unique hybrid business model. [A previous version gave the wrong first name of the company’s new CEO.]

—San Diego’s Sorrento Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SRNE) and NantBioScience, a majority-owned subsidiary of Patrick Soon-Shiong’s NantWorks, have formed a joint venture to develop cancer drugs against difficult targets such as mutant versions of the proteins KRAS, RAL, cMyc, and HIF-1 alpha.

—Sorrento also licensed rights to a cancer drug from Globavir Biosciences of Los Altos, CA, for up to $80 million in various milestones.

—Aethlon Medical, the San Diego medical device maker of a biofilter that provides dialysis-like treatment to patients with life-threatening diseases, said its shares would begin trading on the Nasdaq Monday, July 13, under the ticker symbol AEMD. Shares of Aethlon previously traded on the over-the-counter market.