San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Optimer, Zogenix, MediciNova, & More

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$54 million in so-called sequestration of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. Kristiina Vuori of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Scott Lippman of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, and Tony Hunter of the Salk Institute issued the call yesterday. With more than $850 million in NIH grants awarded here each year, they say the mandated 6.4 percent cut is equivalent to the annual salaries of 1,465 graduate students and postdocs.

—San Diego-based Synthetic Genomics says SGI-DNA, a subsidiary created with Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) of Coralville, IA, has moved to focus its operations exclusively on commercializing a wide range of synthetic DNA products and technologies. Synthetic Genomics and IDT began co-manufacturing synthetic gene products a year ago in small batches—as many as 5 kilobases (5,000 base pairs of DNA or RNA). The partners said they now are expanding to produce co-branded, cloned synthetic DNA constructs up to 2 Mbp, a product offering that was not previously available.

—San Diego’s Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: LGND) said it received a $1.4 million milestone payment from Retrophin under a 2012 licensing agreement for the development of Retrophin’s lead drug candidate. The drug is under development for the treatment of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare disease that attacks the kidney’s filtering system.

—San Diego’s Tandem Diabetes Care said the FDA has cleared “t:connect,” its Web-based data management application for use in the United States. The app, which is both iOS and PC-compatible, is intended to serve as the data management companion to Tandem’s t:slim insulin pump. The company says pump users will be able to download the app from Tandem’s website by the end of March.

—San Diego-based Ignyta said Silicon Valley Bank has added $1 million in venture debt to a $500,000 financing deal signed last summer. Ignyta CEO Jonathan Lim told me a few months ago that the startup plans to begin clinical studies this year to validate its new type of molecular diagnostic for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the chronic and systemic inflammatory disorder that afflicts more than 1.5 million Americans.

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