John Mendlein Tries His Hand as a ‘Parallel Entrepreneur,’ Santaris Continues RNA Therapeutics Work for Pfizer, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

The holiday left a void of sorts in San Diego’s life sciences news, or maybe everybody is prepping for J.P. Morgan’s big biotech conference in San Francisco next week. Either way, we’ve got the latest update here.

—Luke profiled John Mendlein as a life sciences jack-of-all-trades who made his name as a CEO in 2007, when he sold Waltham, MA-based Adnexus Therapeutics to Bristol-Myers Squibb for more than $500 million. Mendlein, who is a surfer, scientist, lawyer, and biotech executive, is now a “parallel entrepreneur.” He’s a hands-on board member at three San Diego biotech startups pursuing big ideas: Fate Therapeutics, aTyr Pharma, and Alevium Pharmaceuticals.

—Pfizer agreed to pay $14 million to Santaris Pharma, the developer of RNA-based therapies in San Diego and Denmark, to continue development of drugs that target ribonucleic acid, a new avenue of research. Santaris might get as much as $600 million if it is able to meet certain research milestones, as well as royalties on as many as 10 products Pfizer may develop over time using its RNA technology.

—A report by Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association counted 72 venture-backed IPOs during 2010—including initial public offerings for San Diego’s Trius Therapeutics and Zogenix. Healthcare-related IPOs accounted for 11 percent of all 154 IPOs that took place over the past 12 months, according to Renaissance Capital, which tracks all types of IPOs.

—Even though the 17 new biotech issues that debuted on the U.S. market in 2010 were plagued by lackluster receptions (selling fewer shares well below the pricing range), biotech guru Steven Burrill predicts that at least 25 biotech IPOs, possibly more, will be completed in the US in 2011. Burrill, a California biotech specialist, venture capitalist, and keynote speaker, also says he sees no slow down in Big Pharma’s appetite for biotech partnering.

—The final numbers on drugs approved … Next Page »

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