Qualcomm Exec Helps Start Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance, Lawsuit Entangles La Jolla Pharma, Sorrento Raises Cash & More San Diego Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

We saw several San Diego biotechs raising cash over the past week, which might be a sign that some green shoots are emerging in the regional economy. Read up on that and the rest of San Diego’s life sciences news.

—Less than three months after its debut, San Diego’s new West Wireless Health Institute says its first clinical trial will test wireless heart monitoring technology developed by San Jose, CA-based Corventis. The multi-center trial will be supervised by Eric J. Topol, a cardiologist who is the institute’s chief medical officer, as well as the chief medical officer at Scripps Health in San Diego.

Don Jones, who oversees Qualcomm’s wireless health initiatives, has been one of San Diego’s key figures in the convergence of healthcare and wireless technologies. Jones worked with Rob McCray, a former healthcare colleague, to form the Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance. McCray told me 2009 could be an inflection point for wireless life sciences in San Diego.

—San Diego’s La Jolla Pharmaceutical said in recent regulatory filings that worries over a lawsuit filed by former partner BioMarin Pharmaceutical of Novato, CA, have spooked an unidentified party that was interested in buying La Jolla Pharmaceutical. BioMarin, which acquired a stake in La Jolla as part of a partnership deal to co-develop a lupus drug, sued the San Diego biotech in an effort to dispose of its La Jolla shares more rapidly. The La Jolla drug failed in a big trial just a few weeks after BioMarin bought its stake.

Accumetrics CEO Timothy Still says two developments expected later this year could expand the market for the San Diego medical device maker’s automated diagnostic instrument for measuring the effectiveness of anti-clotting drugs. One is a regulatory waiver that lowers the technical training required to use its device to test the effectiveness of clopidogrel (Plavix), one of the most-prescribed drugs in the U.S. The other is the expected launch of a new anti-clotting drug by Eli Lilly, called prasugrel.

A new San Diego biotech startup, Sorrento Therapeutics, has raised $2.3 million in an equity investment. The investor wasn’t identified in the company’s regulatory filing, but Miami-based OpkoHealth said earlier this month it made an undisclosed investment in Sorrento, which is developing new methods for making fully human monoclonal antibodies.

—San Diego’s Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HALO) raised more than $38 million earlier this week by selling more than 6 million shares of its stock through a secondary public offering. Halozyme specializes in developing and commercializing products targeting the extracellular matrix—a key component of connective tissue in animals. Halozyme aims to make products for the endocrinology, oncology, dermatology and drug delivery markets.

—San Diego’s Cytori Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CYTX) says it plans to sell as many as 7.15 million shares of its stock over the next 12 months through a private placement agreement to Seaside 88, a fund managed by Orlando, FL-based Seaside Capital Management. Cytori, which raised $850,000 in its first sale earlier this week, could raise a total of $20 million, depending on its share price.

—San Diego’s Vical (NASDAQ: VICL), which is developing DNA vaccines for cancer and infectious disease, says it has received a $1.5 million milestone payment from Merck for its development of a cancer vaccine based on Vical’s technology. Vical also met a mid-stage milestone in its own development of technology that can produce millions of doses of vaccines in a few days to fight pandemic diseases.