Topera Maps Abnormal Currents of the Heart, Novalar Plans Shutdown, New Verenium CEO Drafts Strategy, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego’s life sciences community took two steps forward last week, as two new startups stepped into the light with new medical device technologies, and then one step back with the closure of another company founded in 2000. We have all the latest moves for you, plus a lot more.

—San Diego’s Topera Medical, which has maintained a low profile since it was launched three years ago, established a Lexington, MA-headquarters to commercialize technology developed by UC San Diego cardiologist Sanjiv Narayan. Topera, which hired former Boston Scientific executive Edward Kerslake as CEO, has technology designed to map the heart’s abnormal electrical currents, which occur with irregular heartbeats like atrial fibrillation.

—San Diego-based OncoSec, which was created March 1 through a reverse merger with a dormant public company, says it has licensed drug delivery technology from Innovio Pharmaceuticals to improve the efficacy of certain anti-cancer drugs. Inovio’s electroporation technology uses brief pulses of electricity to temporarily increase the permeability of cell walls, making it easier for OncoSec’s conventional chemotherapy drugs to penetrate cancerous tumors.

—San Diego’s Novalar Pharmaceuticals sold its only product, an FDA-approved drug for reversing the numbing effects of dental anesthesia, and will shut down in coming weeks. The French dental medication company Septodont acquired Novalar’s OraVerse for an undisclosed payment to Novalar and its investors, to be followed by milestone payments and royalties from continuing OraVerse sales.

—Incoming Verenium CEO James Levine told me the company must “go forward to profitability” as it moves its headquarters from the Boston area to San Diego and shifts its strategic focus to using biotech tools to develop industrial enzymes. Levine wants Verenium to broaden and diversify its product line, sign up new corporate partners, improve manufacturing processes, control expenses, get at least two products submitted for regulatory approval, and pay down its corporate debt. And that’s just this year.

—Luke offered a bit of evidence in his BioBeat column to refute critics who said the Obama Administration’s healthcare reform law would put a damper on new drug development. A Government Accountability Office report issued a year after the law was enacted shows that brand-name drug prices climbed by an annual average of 8.3 percent from 2006 through the first quarter of 2010.

—San Diego’s Accelrys (NASDAQ: ACCL) signed a partnership agreement with Oxford Nanopore Technologies that will make it possible to get real-time analyses of experimental data from Oxford’s single molecule analysis system.