San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Receptos IPO, Isis, Versant, & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

Some of San Diego’s public life sciences companies have been buoyed as the stock market has soared to new heights in recent weeks (for the year, the Dow is up 13 percent and the S&P 500 index 12 percent), but Acadia Pharmaceuticals had an extraordinary ride yesterday. We have details, along with the rest of the area’s life sciences news.

—Shares of San Diego’s Acadia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACAD), a biotechnology company with $5 million in annual sales, jumped by almost two-thirds in heavy trading yesterday after saying it will file for a new drug application (NDA) sooner than expected. Acadia shares closed at $13.11, gaining $5.14 a share, or more than 64 percent. Acadia said it plans to submit an NDA for pimavanserin, its drug for treating Parkinson’s disease psychosis, by the end of 2014.

—It could be described as the ultimate hack: Computational neuroscientist Eugene Izhikevich is reverse engineering the human brain to duplicate its processing power with semiconductors and software. In a Q&A with Xconomy, the founder and CEO of Qualcomm-backed Brain Corp. talks about developing computer systems that model the biological processes of the brain.

Receptos, a San Diego biopharmaceutical developing therapeutics for immune disorders, has disclosed plans to raise as much as $86.3 million through an initial public offering. In a filing with government regulators, Receptos said its lead drug candidate is in late-stage clinical trials as a potential treatment for multiple sclerosis. The five-year-old startup’s investors include Arch Venture Partners, Lilly Ventures, Flagship Ventures, Venrock, and Polaris Ventures. Receptos plans to list its shares on the Nasdaq market under the symbol RCPT.

—Menlo Park’s Versant Ventures is moving to replicate the business model of San Diego-based Inception Sciences, its experimental business model for spinning out new life sciences startups, by deepening its ties in Vancouver, BC, and Basel, Switzerland, according to a report by Paul Bonanos in the In Vivo Blog. Versant operating principal Jerel Davis is set to talk about Inception Sciences with CEO Peppi Prasit today at the Rock Stars of Innovation Summit in downtown San Diego. Davis told the In Vivo Blog Versant established a beachhead in Basel in 2008.

—Carlsbad-based Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS) will get $30 million up-front, and potentially as much as $362 million in future milestone and licensing payments, after reaching an agreement to work with Roche to develop drugs for treating Huntington’s Disease. If the partners successfully commercialize any drugs, Isis also would receive lucrative royalties from future drug sales.

Ambrx, the San Diego firm that has developed proprietary technology for optimizing antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), signed a cancer drug development deal with Japan’s Astellas Pharma that could eventually be worth as much as $300 million. Ambrx has developed a new approach for optimizing compounds that combine a small drug molecule with an antibody that targets tumors in specific ways. Ambrx, which gets $15 million upfront, granted Astellas worldwide rights to develop and commercialize ADCs for oncology.