SD Life Sciences Roundup: Celladon, Vertex, MediciNova, & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

Massachusetts’ Vertex and San Diego’s Celladon are advancing some promising gene therapy treatments. Here’s our roundup of life sciences news over the past week.

—San Diego’s Celladon, which is developing a gene therapy to treat patients with a certain type of heart failure, extended a recent investment round by $10 million. Two new investors, MPM Capital and LSP Life Sciences Partners, increased Celladon’s current round to $53 million. Celladon’s gene therapy is intended to restore a key enzyme that helps a healthy heart maintain a normal heartbeat.

—Cambridge, MA-based Vertex (NASDAQ: VRTX), which has operations in San Diego, reported that a combination of its ivacaftor (Kalydeco) therapy and an experimental drug called VX-809 significantly improved lung function for adult patients with the most common genetic mutation (F508del) in cystic fibrosis. The FDA approved ivacaftor in January for treating CF patients with a different mutation (G551D).

—San Diego’s MediciNova (NASDAQ: MDNV) says it is nearing completion of a mid-stage trial of its lead drug candidate, bedoradrine sulfate. MediciNova licensed the compound from Japan’s Kissei Pharmaceutical, and has been advancing the drug as an intravenous treatment for treating acute asthma attacks. MediciNova expects to report results of its latest trial in the next six weeks or so.

—Luke voiced support in his BioBeat column for legislation known as the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) Act. The bill would provide antibiotic developers an additional five years of market exclusivity for their products.

—Just in time for the Hologic acquisition, San Diego’s Gen-Probe (NASDAQ: GPRO) said the FDA cleared its new molecular diagnostic platform, the Panther system. Gen-Probe says its technology can initially be used to test for the common sexually transmitted infections Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Hologic disclosed its plans to acquire Gen-Probe in a $3.7 billion deal earlier this month.