SD Life Sciences Roundup: Takeda Consolidates, Startups Raise Cash

Xconomy San Diego — 

It’s been a busy week for startup funding, with Obalon Therapeutics, Aperio Technologies, Topera, and Ivera Medical closing on financing deals. We’ve also got drug development news from Ocera Therapeutics and MediciNova.

—Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical said it’s closing its center of excellence in South San Francisco, which has been focused on developing early stage antibody drugs, and consolidating its operations, now known as Takeda California, in San Diego. The company’s San Diego center of excellence, which is focused on structure-based drug discovery, has about 170 employees, according to a report by Gary Robbins of U-T San Diego. Keith Wilson, president and chief science officer of Takeda California, told the U-T that Takeda plans to add about 30 positions in San Diego by the end of the year.

—San Diego-based Qualcomm’s wireless health subsidiary, Qualcomm Life, named 25 members to an advisory council to help the business address key industry issues. The list includes Kleiner Perkins partner Brook Byers, X Prize founder Peter Diamandis, inventor Dean Kamen, Diego Miralles of Janssen Healthcare Innovation, Eric Topol of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, Psilos Ventures partner Lisa Suennen, and Larry Smarr, founding director of the California Institute for Telecommunications & Information Technology (Calit2).

—San Diego’s MediciNova (NASDAQ: MNOV) said its experimental asthma drug failed to meet the main goal of a second mid-stage trial. The drug developer said patients treated with its leading drug candidate, bedoradrine sulfate, showed significant improvement in other ways, but a sell off on Wall Street sent shares of MediciNova down by roughly 50 percent, from $2.75 a share to about $1.40. The company plans to continue development despite the setback.

—San Diego’s Ocera Therapeutics said it won approval from European regulators to market its treatment for diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. The private company, which specializes in gastrointestinal and liver diseases, said it has opened discussions with potential partners to provide sales and marketing in the European Union and certain other countries for its spherical carbon adsorbent, Zysa.

San Diego-based Obalon Therapeutics, which has been developing a “gastric space occupying device” for treating obesity, has raised a $16.5 million equity round, according to a recent regulatory filing. The company has not disclosed much information about its technology, however, and appears to have no website.

—Vista, CA-based Aperio Technologies, which has developed a digital pathology information system along with technology for scanning microscope slides into the system, has raised $5.5 million of a planned $6 million in debt and rights to acquire securities, according to a recent regulatory filing. Aperio has raised more than $47 million altogether, according to VentureWire.

—Carlsbad. CA-based Ivera Medical, which won a new FDA clearance in January for a disinfecting device designed to reduce hospital-acquired catheter-related bloodstream infections, has raised $1.2 million of a planned $2.5 million from investors, according to a regulatory filing.

—San Diego-based Topera, which has developed mapping systems that help identify the electrical source of irregular heart beats, has raised $2.75 million from investors, according to a recent regulatory filing. In its filing, the company shortened its name from Topera Medical. Last year Topera raised a small, undisclosed amount in a Series A funding round from a group of individual investors.