Arena Prepares to Release Big Obesity Study, Minnow Medical Goes Into ‘Commercialization Mode,’ Metabasis Hires Strategic Adviser, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA) plans to announce results of a 4,000-patient clinical trial of its obesity drug lorcaserin this month. But Northern California rival Vivus (NASDAQ: VVUS) announced results of its own obesity drug first. Get the skinny on all this and the rest of San Diego’s life sciences news.

San Diego’s Arena Pharmaceuticals is set to release the results of a major study that was designed to see whether a high or low dose of its experimental drug lorcaserin can help patients lose weight. As Luke reported, Arena has a lot riding on the outcome. The company has raised almost $1 billion and spent 12 years developing its drug.

—Meanwhile, Mountain View, CA-based Vivus set high expectations yesterday when it reported that a high dose of its drug, which is a combination of phentermine and topiramate, helped patients lose an average of more than 10 percent of their body weight.

—After six years of development, San Diego’s Minnow Medical is working to commercialize technology that founding CEO Tom Steinke describes as an exciting advance in balloon catheters, which are used in angioplasty. After raising $22 million and expanding Minnow Medical to 28 employees, Steinke is seeking additional capital from prospective investors.

—Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme (NASDAQ: [[ticker: GENZ]]) paid $7 million to acquire a lot of patents and proprietary know-how in gene therapy from Seattle’s Targeted Genetics (NASDAQ: [[TICKER:GENZ]]). Targeted Genetics delivered the intellectual property earlier this week to San Diego, where Genyzme operates a gene therapy facility.

—San Diego’s Metabasis Therapeutics (NASDAQ: [[ticker: MBRX]]) said it has received a Nasdaq delisting notice, which may be the least of its worries. The ailing biotech said last week it hired a financial firm to evaluate its strategic options. Metabasis also announced the resignation of Mark Erion, the company’s CEO, chief scientific officer, and director. Chairman David Hale is overseeing what appears to be the company’s end game.

—San Diego’s Anadys Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: [[ticker: ANDS]]) said it has started a mid-stage clinical trial of its lead drug candidate for patients with hepatitis C. The company said results of the experiment should be available by year-end, with more follow-up data to come in 2010.