San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Life, BioSurplus, Obalon, & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

[Updated 7/10/12 9:25 am. See below.] It seemed as if much of San Diego’s life sciences industry took the past week off, and I plan to join them next week. If you can’t hold your breaking news until I return on July 30, send your bulletins to editors at

Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE) bought Navigenics, the genetic diagnostics company based in Foster City, CA, giving the Carlsbad, CA-based laboratory instrument manufacturer an entré to the emerging field of clinical genetic testing. Life Technologies did not disclose the value of its Navigenics buyout. The key to the deal is Navigenics’ CLIA-certified lab, which enables Life to offer its lab tests to physicians. (CLIA labs meet standards set by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.)

—[Updated to include announcement from Shire] A spokesman for Shire tells me the pharmaceutical giant has changed the name of San Diego’s Advanced BioHealing to Shire Regenerative Medicine. Shire acquired the company last year and has been operating the business as a subsidiary. The name change follows Shire’s plan to build a regenerative medicine campus in San Diego over the next several years.

—San Diego’s BioSurplus closed on $2.4 million in its first round of outside funding, with Durham, NC-based SJF Ventures accounting for much of the oversubscribed round. BioSurplus provides equipment management services and buys and sells pre-owned laboratory instruments. The company said in May that it had raised $1.5 million, mostly from KI Investment Holdings of San Diego, to expand its services in Boston.

—In a statement released yesterday, Carlsbad, CA-based Obalon Therapeutics confirmed that it has raised $16.5 million to advance its new nonsurgical and reversible medical device for treating obesity. I had noted the financing in May, but there wasn’t much information about Obalon or its technology at that time. Obalon now says its device consists of a capsule containing a balloon that is swallowed and can be inflated in the stomach to create a feeling of fullness, and thus help users eat less. The company has reported that clinical trials outside the United States have resulted in patients losing 34 percent to 45 percent in excess body weight.

Independa, a San Diego health IT startup that helps families and caregivers remotely monitor the elderly, said it plans to integrate Del Mar, CA-based GreatCall’s mobile personal emergency response system into its wireless monitoring platform. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

In a recommended summer reading list for life sciences pros, Luke’s top pick was the “The Emperor of All Maladies” by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. The book is described as a “biography of cancer” and won a 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction. In his BioBeat column, Luke said the book was written with the medical authority of a physician, the long view of a historian, and the kind of deft touch that only comes from treating the terminally ill.