San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Regulus, MEI Pharma, Qualcomm & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

Against a backdrop of declining VC activity in the life sciences, it’s heartening to see several financing deals come through for companies in the San Diego region. Here’s our rundown.

—The Midwest isn’t the only place experiencing a drought. Venture funding for life sciences startups throughout the U.S. fell 39 percent in the second quarter, compared to the same quarter of 2011, according to a just-released MoneyTree report called “Dollar Drought.” This marks the sector’s fourth straight quarterly decline in dollars and deals. The amount of capital invested in both biotech and devices fell to 20 percent of the overall total of VC dollars. The report, which is available here, is focused more specifically on life sciences than the latest venture capital survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the National Venture Capital Association, and Thomson Reuters.

—San Diego cancer specialist MEI Pharma (NASDAQ: MEIP) said it has reached an agreement to buy exclusive worldwide rights to a potential best-in-class drug that is a selective inhibitor of a group of enzymes called histone deacetylases (HDAC). MEI plans to issue $500,000 of common stock to Singapore’s S*Bio under an agreement that includes potential milestone payments of $75.2 million and other contingent earn-outs. The experimental compound, Pracinostat, has shown potential effect in patients with certain blood cancers and solid tumors.

Elcelyx Therapeutics, founded in San Diego two years to develop new treatments for obesity and diabetes, said it has $4 million of a planned $7-million extension of its Series B round of financing. The additional cash is needed to fund late-stage trials of its nutritional supplement and a delayed release formulation of generic metformin HCL (NewMet) for patients with Type 2 diabetes. Elcelyx has raised a total of $20 million from Morgenthaler Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Technology Partners.

—Carlsbad, CA-based Tragara Pharmaceuticals has raised $4 million of a planned $6 million round of debt and rights, according to a recent regulatory filing. The company’s work is focused on a … Next Page »

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