New Health IT Startup Targets Military Programs, Allylix Sniffs New Market for Nootkatone, Biocept Builds Team, & More San Diego Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Diego — 

Much of the local biotech news over the past week was focused on several early stage companies, which are busily raising money and building their leadership teams. We have the latest news for you here.

—A new San Diego health IT startup, Cognitive Medical Systems, recruited a veteran software CEO to serve as president and employee No. 4. Douglas Burke joins founder Mary Lacroix, a longtime health IT executive, as the company develops services for military health IT programs that include consulting, program administration, project management, software engineering, and database design.

—San Diego’s Allylix, which is using the tools of industrial biotechnology to make complex chemicals for the flavor and fragrance market, stands to benefit from a push by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop nootkatone as a natural insect repellent. Allylix CEO Carolyn Frtiz told me her company is one of two with exclusive rights to a CDC patent on the use of nootkatone as a repellent. Allylix is already making nootkatone for the food industry. So you can rub it on or drink it! Nootkatone works wonders!

—If the college of engineering at the University of Washington is any guide, students who graduate with a degree in computer science have a better chance of landing a high-paying job than those with a degree in bioengineering. Luke discusses biotech career prospects in his BioBeat column.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX) has given a trade name to telaprevir, the Cambridge, MA-based company’s three times a day pill for treating hepatitis C. It is Incivek (pronounced in-see-veck). Vertex is expected to win FDA approval on its new drug application by May 23.

—One of San Diego’s hottest life sciences startups is NeuroVigil, which has developed a wireless sensor and related technology to analyze human brainwave patterns. The company announced its first round of seed-stage financing, but wouldn’t disclose the amount of funding or investors.

—San Diego’s Biocept, which is developing advanced technologies for diagnosing cancer, is rapidly building its leadership. The company, which plans to launch a diagnostic test for breast cancer later this year, recruited Hybritech veterans Ivor Royston as a board member and David Hale as executive chairman. Biocept also named Lyle Arnold as a senior vice president and Chief Scientific Officer and Michael Dunn as the senior vice president for corporate development.

—On a tragic note, Christina Donaghy, the communications director for San Diego’s Optimer Pharmaceuticals, was killed in a car wreck about 25 miles north of San Diego Sunday.