SD Life Sciences Roundup: Illumina, Applied Proteomics, & Tocagen

Xconomy San Diego — 

—It wasn’t exactly news when the board at San Diego-based Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) said it had rejected the $5.7 billion hostile takeover offer from Swiss drug maker Roche. Now Wall Street’s arbitragers are placing their bets on whether Roche can prevail. The most intriguing news about the deal, however, came from The Wall Street Journal, which revealed potential conflicts of interests with Illumina’s key adviser, Goldman Sachs.

A new molecular diagnostics startup stepped into the light in San Diego. Applied Proteomics named Peter Klemm as CEO, and disclosed it raised $22.5 million in venture capital last summer from Vulcan Capital and Domain Associates. Applied Proteomics also said it moved to San Diego last June from the Los Angeles area, and double its staffing over the next year.

—San Diego-based Tocagen and Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics disclosed a partnership that will begin with Siemens’ support of clinical trials Tocagen has planned for its viral gene therapy treatments for primary brain cancer. Siemens said it will help provide companion diagnostics that are intended to help doctors decide the best course of treatments for patients, based on their unique genetic characteristics.

—San Diego’s OncoSec Medical, which was created out of a reverse merger less than a year ago, is beginning mid-stage trials of a treatment that combines electroporation and immunotherapy in patients with three types of skin cancer. Electroporation is a technology that causes cancer cells to take up higher concentrations of anti-cancer drugs by administering pulses of electricity directly to the cancer cells. OncoSec is trying it on patients with metastatic melanoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

Brooks Life Science Systems, a Poway, CA-based division of Brooks Automation, (NASDAQ: BRKS), said it had established a development and commercialization partnership with The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). Brooks plans to manufacture and commercialize a microplate imaging system under an exclusive licensing agreement with the biomedical research institute.

—San Diego-based Prometheus Laboratories Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical and diagnostic company, said it signed a research and collaboration agreement that provides its proprietary cancer diagnostic technology to an unnamed global pharmaceutical. Financial terms were not disclosed. Prometheus said its technology can detect the activation of specific cancer pathways with high levels of sensitivity and specificity.

—San Diego-based Synthetic Genomics and Ipswich, MA-based New England Biolabs (NEB) said they signed a non-exclusive licensing agreement allowing NEB to commercialize the “Gibson Assembly Master Mix,” a one-step, isothermal approach to enable the rapid assembly of multiple DNA fragments. The companies said Daniel Gibson and colleagues at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) developed the technology as part of a program sponsored by SGI. Financial terms were not disclosed.