The annual International CES in Las Vegas again featured a Digital Health Summit, which included a number of San Diego-based startups. Rick Valencia of Qualcomm Life posted an interesting blog here, and an end-of-year report from Rock Health showed that investments in digital health startups increased more than 44 percent in 2012, to $1.4 billion from $968 million in 2011. We have a rundown, along with the rest of the week’s life sciences news.
—Novato, CA-based BioMarin Pharmaceutical (Nasdaq: BMRN) said it acquired San Diego’s Zacharon Pharmaceuticals for $10 million, with potential milestone payments that were not disclosed. Zacharon, backed by San Diego’s Avalon Ventures, specializes in developing small-molecule drugs that interact with complex carbohydrates known as glycans, which are thought to be promising drug targets for rare diseases. Zacharon is working on treatments aimed at mucopolysaccharidosis disorders, as well as genetic disorders such as Tay-Sachs and Sandhoff disease.
—The FDA approved 39 new drugs in 2012, and life sciences companies in California developed nine, according to the annual California Biomedical Industry Report. The 2013 report found the biomedical industry ranked as California’s No. 1 industry in jobs (269,997), venture capital investments ($1.98 billion through the first three quarters), and federal research funding through the National Institutes of Health ($3.3 billion).
—San Diego-based CoDa Therapeutics, which received $20 million earlier this month from a fund administered by Domain Associates and Moscow-based Rusnano, said its once-a-week topical treatment for venous leg ulcers greatly improved healing in a mid-stage trial. The company said the gel’s active ingredient, an unmodified antisense oligonucleotide (Nexagon), was safe and increased complete healing. The treatment dampens the inflammatory response, leading to reduced inflammation, swelling, and scarring.