Ambit Files for IPO, Arena Pharmaceuticals Says Weight-Loss Drug on Track, ESRI Launches Medical Place History Map App, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

New money and new product innovations seemed to be the intertwining themes of San Diego’s life sciences news over the past week. See if you agree.

—San Diego’s Ambit Biosciences intends to raise as much as $86.3 million in an IPO, according to a regulatory filing last week. Ambit, which has been developing a drug to treat acute myeloid leukemia, hopes to ride on the coattails of 18 initial public offerings in October, the most in years.

—Bill Davenhall, ESRI‘s global marketing manager for health and human services, talked with me about his 2009 TEDMED talk about the importance of creating a medical place history. One year later, ESRI developed a way to create your own medical place history—an app that is now available for free at the Apple iStore.

—San Diego’s Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA) said initial results from an additional test of its experimental diet pill show that the drug meets federal requirements for prescription weight-loss treatments. The study essentially showed that overweight patients who also have Type 2 diabetes reached all three goals of a clinical trial. Arena will now take this information to its next meeting with the FDA, in hopes that it can persuade regulators to approve the drug for sale. The drug’s initial application was turned down last month.

—San Diego-based Optimer Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OPTR) said it halted a study of an experimental antibiotic for traveler’s diarrhea, after a higher-than-expected rate of skin rashes. Optimer said the drug candidate is in a class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones, which are known to sometimes cause rashes.

—The non-profit West Wireless Health Institute said it has developed its first engineering prototype-a wireless fetal and maternal monitoring device called “Sense4Baby.”

—Shareholders of San Diego’s Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: LGND) didn’t show much reaction after the company said its board approved a 1-for-6 reverse stock split, which is expected to take effect by the end of this month.

—Federal grants to fund therapeutic discoveries under the Affordable Care Act began arriving at nearly 3,000 biotechs across the country over the past week. Keith Darce at The San Diego Union-Tribune published a complete list of 184 biotechs in San Diego County that are getting a total of almost $67.1 million. The biggest beneficiary is Ligand Pharmaceuticals, which is getting a $1.9 million grant.

—Thoratec (NASDAQ: THOR) of Pleasanton, CA, sold its International Technidyne Corp. subsidiary for $55 million to the private equity firm Warburg Pincus, which merged it with San Diego’s Nexus Dx. The San Diego startup is focused on point of care blood diagnostic testing.