Cypress Rejects Ramius—Again, Federal Health Sciences Funding at 2-Year High, Opthonix Raising More Venture Capital, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

An economic report shows federal funding for medical research has become a substantial factor in fueling the innovation economy in San Diego. And as if on cue, the National Cancer Institute issued a couple of grants here. We have the rest of your life sciences news in queue here:

—The board at San Diego’s Cypress Bioscience (NASDAQ: CYPB) unanimously rejected a slightly higher buyout offer from Ramius Value and Opportunity Advisors, a private equity firm in New York. In a nod to unhappy shareholders, though, Cypress said its board would conduct a broad evaluation of the biotech’s strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value. The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Keith Darcé provided an in-depth look at the situation.

—Federal health sciences funding for research in San Diego increased by 38 percent over the first quarter of 2010, to $341 million during the quarter that ended June 30, according to the Connect Innovation Report. That was the highest level in more than two years. But the almost-40-page report shows that venture capital investing in San Diego continues to be anemic.

Ophthonix, a vision correction technology company based in Vista, CA, raised $5.4 million toward a $12.1 million round of equity, rights and securities.

—The National Cancer Institute has renewed a grant for the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute that will provide a total of $21 million through 2015. That’s a 21 percent increase over the cancer institute’s previous grant, according to the Sanford-Burnham.

—The National Cancer Institute also awarded $3 million to Advanced Targeting Systems, a privately held San Diego company that specializes in reagents for neuroscience researchers. ATS has developed a reagent called SP-PAP that targets chronic pain transmission, and the company plans to use the funding to initiate clinical trials for treating cancer pain.

—San Diego’s Amira Pharmaceuticals has filed an FDA application to begin clinical trials of a new drug for fibrotic disorders in the lungs. The company is seeking to run tests in healthy volunteers on AM152, an experimental blocker of a target called LPA1.