Isis Snags Glaxo Deal, Orexigen Heads to FDA, Cyntellect Pockets $3M & More San Diego Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

This week I traveled here for Xconomy’s big event on the 20-year future for San Diego’s life sciences cluster. My wrap-up on that event is probably going to have to wait until Friday, but there was plenty of other news from San Diego biotech to keep the site buzzing.

—Carlsbad, CA-based Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS) struck a big deal this week with GlaxoSmithKline. Isis will pocket $35 million upfront, and could stand to rake in as much as $1.5 billion if it hits every milestone for all six drug development programs covered under the deal. Of course, that’s unlikely, but even in “biodollars” that’s no small deal.

—San Diego-based Orexigen Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OREX) has formally asked the FDA to clear its first product for sale in the U.S. Orexigen’s new drug application is for a combination of bupropion and naltrexone (Contrave), which it says has been studied in more than 4,500 people. If Orexigen wins FDA approval, it could be following fast behind a couple other rivals—San Diego-based Arena Pharmaceuticals, and Mountain View, CA-based Vivus.

—San Diego-based Somaxon Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SOMX) has been riding a wave of enthusiasm since it won FDA approval for its insomnia drug, but as Denise points out in this follow-up story, the hard job of commercialization begins now.

—A couple of small venture financings crossed our biotech desk this week. Biocept, a San Diego biotech company developing cell separation technology, has raised $3.6 million out of a $4 million round, according to a regulatory filing. The SEC filings also showed that Cyntellect, a San Diego-based company working on technologies to analyze, purify and process cells, raised $3 million from the sale of debt, equity and options or warrants.

Richard Pops, the CEO of Waltham, MA-based Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS), offered up a guest editorial on a relevant issue for biotechies all over the country—the renewal of the Prescription User Fee Act that governs relations between drugmakers and the FDA. Pops’s company has a major connection to San Diego, because it provides key enabling technology to Amylin Pharmaceuticals‘ exenatide once-weekly treatment for diabetes.

—“Cost-effectiveness” is a term we’re all going to hear more in years to come because of healthcare reform, and Denise nailed a timely profile of a San Diego company that is looking to seize on that trend. NextImage Medical is seeking to increase the efficiency of radiology exams, which is one of the culprits driving up the cost of worker’s compensation premiums in California.