SD Life Sciences Roundup: Gen-Probe, Zogenix, & the Innovation Economy

Xconomy San Diego — 

Here’s our wrap-up of life sciences news over the past week, along with some life sciences data from the latest Connect Innovation Report.

—Bedford, MA-based Hologic (NASDAQ: HOLX) agreed to pay $3.7 billion, or $82.75 a share, for Gen-Probe (NASDAQ: [[GPRO]]), San Diego’s venerable, 29-year-old clinical diagnostics company. At a 20 percent premium, the Hologic-Gen-Probe deal represents good news for investors. But Hologic said it also expects to squeeze $75 million in cost savings by consolidating the two companies’ operations, and it’s unclear how that will play out for Gen-Probe’s 1,400 employees.

—San Diego’s Zogenix (NASDAQ: ZGNX) said it is seeking approval from federal drug regulators for its extended-release formulation of hydrocodone bitartrate (Zohydro) for managing chronic pain. In submitting its new drug application for the opioid pain-killer, Zogenix is keeping to the schedule it outlined last year. If approved, Zohydro says its drug could be the first 12-hour hydrocodone pain-killer that poses no risk of acetaminophen-related liver injury

—San Diego’s AnaptysBio said it has formed a partnership with Foster City, CA-based Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: [[ticker:GILD) to discover and optimize therapeutic antibodies, using its proprietary technology. Gilead agreed to pay AnaptysBio an undisclosed upfront fee as well as milestone and royalty payments for products that advance under the partnership. The companies did not identify what the focus of their drug developments would be. AnaptysBio, which was founded in 2005, previously signed collaboration deals with Celgene, Roche, Novartis, and Merck.

—In this week’s BioBeat column, Luke explained why his pessimism about life sciences IPOs is relaxing a bit to allow maybe just a tiny glimmer of cautious optimism. Arch Venture Partners’ Bob Nelson told Luke, “I’d say there are some rumblings of positivity.”

—In an expansion beyond its initial target market of military health programs, San Diego’s Cognitive Medical Systems said it plans to implement a wireless clinical support system for the Perinatal Quality Collaborative of North Carolina. Cognitive Medical Systems said it will integrate its health IT system and analytics platform with handheld devices that doctors and other health care providers can use to improve the care of mothers and infants at participating hospitals.

Connect, the San Diego nonprofit for technology and entrepreneurship, released its Innovation Report for the fourth quarter and 2011. Drawing from the report, here’s a snapshot of the local life sciences sector, by the numbers:

—$67.5 million. The total amount of federal grants awarded to San Diego biomedical researchers by the National Institutes of Health in the fourth quarter—a 75 percent drop from the $275 million awarded by the NIH in San Diego during the previous quarter. Connect said the plunge was due to NIH restrictions under a continuous resolution signed by President Obama in November, so the agency is essentially operating without an approved budget.

—67. The number of new life sciences companies created in San Diego in 2011 (with 21 established during the fourth quarter), a 6 percent decline from the 71 life sciences companies started in 2010.

—5,978. The total number of innovation companies in San Diego. The report counts about 600 life sciences companies in San Diego, which accounts for about 10 percent of the total.

—30,100. Total life sciences jobs in San Diego. Of the 138,000 technology employees of all stripes, life sciences represents the biggest sector.

—$95,351. Average annual wage in San Diego’s life sciences sector. The average annual wage for all types of technology employment here is $97,715.

—$269 million. Total venture capital investments in 23 deals in the San Diego area during the fourth quarter. Venture funding for San Diego pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies amounted to $193 million in 17 deals, or almost 72 percent of total invested capital.