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Ramius Buys Cypress Bio, Genoptix Reportedly Exploring Possible Sale, Anaphore Gets Japanese Partner, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

It’s less than 10 days before Christmas, but San Diego’s life sciences community doesn’t seem to be ready for vacation. The business news wires have been crackling with reports of buyouts, rumored buyouts, deals, and major product launches. Fortunately, we’re here to sort it all out for you.

—As corporate courtships go, the unsolicited offer by New York’s Ramius group for San Diego’s Cypress Bioscience (NASDAQ: CYPB) was more tempestuous than romantic. But Ramius finally came up with a proposal that swept Cypress off its feet. At $6.50 a share, the hedge fund’s $255 million offer was 63 percent higher than the original proposal of $4 a share five months ago, and about 160 percent higher than Cypress’ share price of $2.50 on July 16, before the Ramius offer became public.

—Is Genoptix (NASDAQ: GXDX) negotiating with a secret suitor who wants to buy the Carlsbad, CA, medical diagnostic company? Bloomberg News reported that Genoptix has hired Barclays, the British investment bank, and buyout speculation has been driving the company’s stock higher. Genoptix runs a centralized laboratory that performs tests on blood samples of patients with blood disorders and cancers.

—Another Carlsbad company, Life Technologies, (NASDAQ: LIFE) has started selling what it calls the Ion Personal Genome Machine, a molecular diagnostic instrument for sequencing genomes. The first commercial sequencing machine uses semiconductor technology, rather than imaging, to sequence genes, and was developed by Ion Torrent Systems of Guilford, CT. The machine sells for a shade under $50,000, about one-tenth the price of today’s most high-powered gene sequencing instruments.

—San Diego’s Avalon Ventures has put about $1 million in funding to launch RQx Pharmaceuticals, which plans to develop a new class of antibiotics. Founding CEO Court Turner, an Avalon Venture Partner, says there isn’t much to say so far about RQx, which appears to be using technology developed by Floyd Romesberg, an associate professor of chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute.

Connect, the San Diego non-profit group dedicated to supporting technology innovation and entrepreneurship, hosted more than 800 people at its “Most Innovative New Product” awards luncheon. In the life sciences categories, Connect gave trophies to San Diego-based NeuroVigil for iBrain, a non-invasive wireless technology for recording brain wave data, and to Zogenix (NASDAQ: ZGNX) for Sumavel DosePro, a needle-free drug injection device.

—San Diego’s Anaphore said it formed a partnership with Japan’s Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma to help create a new generation of protein drugs for autoimmune disorders. Anaphore said it will get $5 million in upfront cash, research support, and as much as $110 million in potential milestone payments.

MedNetworks, a startup based in Newton, MA, has recruited U.S. San Diego’s James Fowler to serve on its scientific advisory board with Harvard’s Nicholas Christakis. The two are co-authors of “Connected,” an acclaimed book about social networks. Fowler’s research at UCSD has explored the genetic underpinnings of certain political behaviors

—A former certified public accountant, Kent Thomas Keigwin, was ordered to stand trial on charges that include murder for financial gain. He was arrested in June in connection with the untimely death of John G. Watson, a retired biotech executive and San Diego angel investor.

—Italy’s Silicon Biosystems has established the headquarters for a new U.S. subsidiary in San Diego, adding to the small-but-growing number of genetic and molecular diagnostics equipment makers . The Silicon Biosystems subsidiary views clinical and diagnostic researchers throughout North America as an ideal market for its DEPArray technology.