San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Life Technologies, Althea, Sorrento

Xconomy San Diego — 

The week’s biggest news just might be a fresh round of rumors concerning a possible buyout at Life Technologies. From the biggest to the smallest, here’s our briefing of San Diego’s life sciences news.

—Reports of a possible private equity buyout of Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE), the Carlsbad, CA-based provider of gene sequencing equipment and lab supplies, surfaced again this week, with both Bloomberg and Reuters citing unidentified sources close to the talks. If such a private equity deal succeeds, Bloomberg said it might rank as the biggest leveraged buyout since the end of 2007. Life’s market value exceeds $10 billion, but wouldn’t Michael Dell’s proposed $24 billion deal to take Dell private be bigger?

—In a provocative BioBeat column, Xconomy’s Luke Timmerman called for a “credible” ranking of U.S. regional biotech clusters. Luke called a recent report from the real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle “deeply flawed” and remarked, “now that everybody’s a publisher, these kind of half-baked analyses tend to be widely shared and commented on without much critical review.” I’ve heard some indignant harrumphing around town, since San Diego was ranked No. 2 in the most recent Jones Lang LaSalle report.

—Japan’s Ajinomoto, a multi-billion dollar specialty chemicals manufacturer, said it is acquiring San Diego-based Althea Technologies, a contract manufacturer of biopharmaceuticals in a deal valued at about $175 million. With the buyout marking its entry into the U.S. biotech market, Ajinomoto said it plans to increase Althea’s annual revenue to $320 million by 2020.

—San Diego-based biopharmaceuticals developer Sorrento Therapeutics, which trades over the counter, said it has agreed to aquire Igdrasol, a Fountain Valley, CA-based developer of anti-cancer agents for treating metastatic breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and other cancers. Sorrento plans to issue 76,199,171 shares to close the deal, which would be valued at about $18.1 million based on the company’s opening price of 24 cents a share. I thought the best explanation of the deal was here.

—Santa Clara, CA-based Agilent Technologies (NYSE: A) and San Diego’s Applied Proteomics said they have agreed to collaborate on technology that uses mass spectrometry to monitor protein reactions. San Diego’s Applied Proteomics has developed diagnostics technology to rapidly collect, analyze, and quantify proteins as a way to detect and monitor disease. The two companies plan to quickly and accurately measure, monitor and analyze large numbers of protein biomarkers in a single test that could be used in clinical diagnostics.

—Square 1 Bank said it provided a $2.25 million loan to San Diego’s Carolus Therapeutics, a five-year-old biopharmaceutical startup backed by San Diego’s Avalon Ventures. Carolus has created what could be a novel and important therapeutic for a host of respiratory diseases, including Cystic Fibrosis.

—Carlsbad, CA-based Synteract, a life sciences contract research organization (CRO), said it has acquired a German CRO, Harrison Clinical Research. The combined company will operate as a global CRO, with offices throughout the U.S., Europe, Israel, Russia, and South America.

Santech, a San Diego wireless health startup using health IT, social networks, and wireless technology to improve chronic care and health care wellness programs, said it has integrated its SanText mobile messaging technology with Qualcomm’s 2net Platform. Financial terms were not disclosed. Santech was founded by Kevin Patrick, a professor of family and preventive medicine at UC San Diego, with two UCSD colleagues, James Sallis and Karen Calfas.