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Intrigue, Fraud Surround Death of Biotech Angel Investor, Neurocrine Biosciences Signs Two Big Deals, Regulus Therapeutics Signs Sanofi-Aventis Deal, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego’s life sciences community and angel investors are watching transfixed as investigators unfold the suspicious death of La Jolla resident John G. Watson. We also saw some huge funding deals over the past week, and we’ve summarized it all for you here:

—Carlsbad, CA-based Regulus Therapeutics announced a lucrative partnership with Sanofi-Aventis, the Paris-based pharma giant, to discover, develop, and someday co-market microRNA drugs. Sanofi agreed to pay Regulus as much as $750 million in milestone payments, eclipsing the $600 million deal Regulus struck with GlaxoSmithKline in 2008.

Kent Keigwin, a 59-year-old financial advisor, appeared in a San Diego County Superior Court yesterday to face identify theft, grand theft and forgery charges. San Diego Police say Keigwin posed as John G. Watson, a retired biotech executive and local angel investor, and illegally transferred $7.5 million out of Watson’s brokerage account. Watson, who was 65, was found dead in his La Jolla home on June 8.

—San Diego’s Neurocrine Biosciences (NASDAQ: NBIX) granted worldwide rights to experimental diabetes drugs to German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim in a deal that could be worth as much as $225 million. In a separate deal, the U.S. drug giant Abbott Laboratories agreed to pay Neurocrine up to $575 million for global rights to its experimental drug for endometriosis.

Bryan Roberts, a Venrock partner in San Francisco who oversees the firm’s life sciences and health IT investments, told a San Diego audience that the healthcare industry is projected to spend only a fourth as much as the financial services industry on new IT infrastructure.

The West Wireless Health Institute announced it will collaborate with the Carlos Slim Health Institute in Mexico City to advance wireless health solutions in the United States, Mexico, and Latin America. The institute also forged technology and education partnerships with CareFusion (NYSE: CFN), Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), and Medtronic (NYSE: MDT).

—San Diego’s Cadence Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: [[ticker:CADX CADX), which has been developing an intravenous form of acetaminophen for pain relief in hospitals, said it got an exclusive option to acquire Incline Therapeutics of Redwood City, CA.

—The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research gave San Diego’s Ceregene $2.5 million to help fund a mid-stage gene therapy study that aims to deliver the neurotrophic factor neurturin to improve the status of degenerating neurons in the brain.

—Existing investors committed as much as $20 million to San Diego’s Nereus Pharmaceuticals needed to fund a mid-stage trial of a drug candidate for treating non-small cell lung cancer. The company specializes in developing drugs from marine microbes.