Celladon Enjoys Early Success With Gene Therapy Trial, FDA Gives Digirad Green Light for a Nuclear Camera, Aragon Pharmaceuticals Gets $22M & More San Diego Biotech News

Xconomy San Diego — 

We saw a healthy mix of life sciences news over the past week, with a generous serving of device news, some venture funding, a dash of clinical trial results, and voila! Enjoy!

—San Diego’s Celladon said an experimental gene therapy treatment met its primary goal of showing the treatment was more effective than a placebo in a trial that enrolled 39 heart patients. The experiment tested a single-shot infusion of Mydicar, Celladon’s gene therapy drug.

—San Diego’s Aragon Pharmaceuticals said it raised $22 million in venture funding to advance its lead drug treatment for prostate cancer into an initial clinical trial. The startup is testing a new approach to treating cancers by targeting certain hormones.

—The slicing and dicing of venture capital data from the first three months of 2010 continued this week, with a new MoneyTree report saying life sciences is holding its position as the largest single industry getting venture capital funding nationwide. The report, “Holding the Lead,” says VC firms invested $1.3 billion in 160 deals nationwide—representing 28 percent of all dollars invested and 23 percent of the deals. The report was prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data from Thomson Reuters.

—San Diego’s Digirad (NASDAQ: DRAD) said the FDA gave the Poway, CA, company approval to market Ergo, a nuclear imaging camera system for hospitals that’s smaller and more portable than existing hospital systems.

—Luke profiled San Diego-based NuVasive (NASDAQ: NUVA), which has developed a new approach for repairing damaged or aging vertebrae. NuVasive’s technology enables surgeons to go into the body through a patient’s side, rather that through the front or back, giving doctors easier access to the spine.

—The Flax Council of Canada is investing about $5.5 million through a partnership with San Diego’s Cibus Global to develop a crop strain of flax that is resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the widely used weed killer Roundup. Cibus says it intends to develop a strain that’s acceptable to Europeans opposed to genetically modified crops.