San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: IPOs, ResMed, Ventrix, CovX, & More

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cardiac function in pigs following a heart attack. The company reported its preclinical findings in the journal Science Translational Medicine. A spokeswoman for the company said Ventrix, which has seven employees and consultants, raised $5 million last year in a Series A round funded by private investors.

—Following a flurry of innovation in high-speed DNA sequencing, Luke reported that San Carlos, CA-based Natera is the latest of four companies to offer a simple, noninvasive, maternal blood test for prenatal genetic screening. Natera’s diagnostic test is going up against competing services from San Diego-based Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM) and Illumina’s Verinata unit (NASDAQ: ILMN), as well as San Jose, CA-based Ariosa Diagnostics.

—San Diego-based Santarus (NASDAQ: SNTS) said it began U.S. sales of its extended release drug for treating patients with ulcerative colitis. Santarus combined the steroid drug budesonide with drug delivery technology that releases budesonide along the length of the colon. The drug, marketed as Uceris, won FDA approval in January.

—Carlsbad, CA-based Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ISIS) said it earned a $7.5 million milestone payment from GlaxoSmithKline. Isis said the milestone payment came after the partners began a mid-stage clinical study of ISIS-TTRRx, an antisense drug in development for the treatment of transthyretin or TTR amyloidosis, a severe and rare genetic disease characterized by progressive dysfunction of peripheral nerve and/or heart tissues.

—Following the lead set by Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs in 2005, Carlsbad, CA-based ResMed (NYSE: RMD) said founder Peter Farrell is resigning as chief executive so that his son, Michael “Mick” Farrell, can take over as CEO on March 1. Peter Farrell will stay on as executive chairman until the end of 2013, when he plans to take a less active role as non-executive chairman. Jacobs’s third-eldest son Paul succeeded him as Qualcomm CEO. Paul Jacobs added the chairman’s role in 2009.

—San Diego-based Sanitas said the FDA has cleared Wellaho, its Web and mobile platform, as a class II medical device for supporting outpatients who are chronically ill. Sanitas founder Naser Partovi said Wellaho serves as a secure Web-based platform for gathering vital signs and other information from patients who are dealing with long-term health issues.

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