Polaris Prepares for Liver Cancer Trial, Goal Draws Near for Hepatitis C Drug, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

Is sentiment coming together to push for FDA regulatory reform? Luke’s BioBeat column described industry efforts to shake up the FDA, and U.S. Rep. Darell Issa convened a hearing in San Diego last to collect life sciences testimony on needed reforms. We have details on all that and more.

In a run-up to an FDA public advisory meeting today in Silver Springs, MD, Luke reported that an FDA staff analysis of data submitted for a new hepatitis C drug under development at Cambridge, MA-based Vertex shows a cure rate as high as 79 percent among patients getting their first-round of treatment. That’s better than the 75 percent cure rate reported by Vertex, which has substantial operations in San Diego. The question lingering today is whether two side effects cited by the FDA—rash and anemia—will affect the advisory panel’s recommendation concerning the Vertex drug, telaprevir.

Dow Jones VentureSource provided more details about first-quarter venture capital activity in San Diego, including data about local life sciences deals. In contrast to the MoneyTree Report, which shows a sharp decline, Dow Jones says venture funding in San Diego was relatively flat, with $213.9 million invested in 26 deals. That includes $119.6 million invested in 13 healthcare companies in San Diego, which is almost even with the $121.6 million that was invested in 12 healthcare companies during the same quarter of 2010.

—San Diego’s Polaris Group, which seemed to spring out of nowhere, is moving to begin a late-stage clinical trial of ADI-PEG 20 for treating the most common type of liver cancer. The drug, also known as pegylated arginine deiminase, is intended to deprive tumor cells of arginine, an essential amino acid they need to survive and grow.

—San Diego’s Fate Therapeutics, which is developing stem cell therapies, has increased the size of its current equity round to $36 million and arranged for $1 million in debt financing, according to a couple of recent regulatory filings. Fate said in February that chairman John Mendlein was stepping in to run the company following the departure of CEO Paul Grayson, who is leaving to … Next Page »

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