Anadys Reports Interim Hep C Drug Data, Ligand Collects Milestone Payment, Phenomix’s Diabetes Drug Shows Promise, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

Progress on the drug development front dominated the headlines in the past week, although one company, Phenomix, also had some bad news. Get those details and more here.

Phenomix announced that diabetic patients who took its experimental drug dutogliptin in a clinical trial saw statistically significant drops in their blood sugar. But the company is looking for a new strategic partner to help develop dutogliptin after New York-based Forest Laboratories said it had terminated its alliance with the San Diego biotech.

—My end-of-flu-season wrap up showed some San Diego companies received a temporary revenue boost from sales of products related to swine flu, and at least one company garnered enough funding to continue work on a H1N1 vaccine.

—Luke profiled Amplyx, a startup that is working on redesigning existing drugs to make them more effective or tolerable. The company’s first project is to develop improved protease inhibitors for H.I.V.

—Anadys Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ANDS) reported promising interim clinical trial data for its experimental hepatitis C drug ANA598. The results were announced at the European Association for the Study of the Liver meeting in Vienna, Austria.

—Luke chatted with Nobel laureate Roger Tsien of UC San Diego about his startup company, Avelas Biosciences, which is working on fluorescent molecular tags that surgeons may use to distinguish tumors from healthy tissue.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: LGND) earned a $6.5 million milestone payment from Switzerland-based Roche for advancing its experimental hepatitis C drug RG7348 into clinical trials. Ligand obtained the drug through its acquisition of Metabasis Therapeutics; Metabasis shareholders will receive $2.7 million from the milestone payment.

—The Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute promoted Kristina Vuori to president from her previous position as executive vice president of scientific affairs. John Reed will continue as CEO of the institute.