San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Life’s M&A Deal, Santarus, & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

By far, the biggest life sciences news in the San Diego region over the past week was Thermo Fisher Scientific’s $13.6 billion acquisition of Life Technologies. I’ve compiled a special edition roundup of the deal, along with everything that happened in San Diego.

—In one of the biggest corporate buyouts San Diego has seen, Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO) of Waltham, MA, agreed to pay $13.6 billion to acquire Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE), in a move intended to position the company to reap the gains of next-generation genetic sequencing technology. Both boards already have approved the deal.

—A replay of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s conference call to discuss their definitive agreement to acquire Life Technologies can be found here. The press release is here.

—Did the buyout represent a good deal for Life Technologies? The laboratory equipment and materials supplier’s stock traded at less than $55 a share before it disclosed that it was shopping for a buyer on Jan. 18. Thermo Fisher’s buyout offer of $76 a share represents a 38 percent gain from there, but as one stock-watcher wrote, Life shares are now “priced for perfection at high earnings multiples while the balance sheet will be highly leveraged.”

—The deal also poses implications for San Diego’s Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN), which last year spurned advances from the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche.

—U-T San Diego reporter Paul Sisson recalls the history of Life Technologies, beginning with Invitrogen, a company started in Encinitas, CA, by three San Diego scientists to sell kits that researchers could use to isolate and clone DNA.

—In other life sciences news, San Diego’s Pfenex and Agila Biotech of Bangalore, India, said they have entered into a joint venture to develop and commercialize interferon beta-1b, a genetically engineered protein product for treating multiple sclerosis, and five other biosimilar products. In a statement, the partners said they plan to advance their initial pipeline of drugs from preclinical through late stage clinical trials and commercialization.

Santaris Pharma, the Danish biopharmaceutical with R&D operations in San Diego, said it had established a worldwide strategic alliance with Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) to discover and develop new medicines. Santaris said it would get an upfront payment of $10 million, and up to $90 million per product in potential milestone payments, as well as potential royalty payments for commercialized products.

—As if life wasn’t confusing enough already, the San Diego-based biopharmaceutical Santarus (NASDAQ: SNTS) said it submitted a new drug application to the FDA for a biologic called recombinant human C1 esterase inhibitor (Ruconest). Santarus (which is not related to Santaris Pharma) has been working with the Pharming Group (a Dutch pharma based in Leiden) to develop the drug, which treats a rare genetic disorder called acute angioedema, a protein deficiency that results in unpredictable and debilitating episodes of intense swelling. The drug has already been approved in Europe.

—The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) said SAIC founder J. Robert Beyster and Betty J. Beyster will donate approximately $2.5 million to support the completion of the new J. Craig Venter Institute sustainable laboratory under construction at UC San Diego. In recognition of their gift, the third-floor ocean view conference room and terrace will be named the “Bob and Betty Beyster Conference Room” and the “Bob and Betty Beyster Terrace”.

—San Diego’s Aethlon Medical said it has entered into a subcontract with Battelle under a $22.8 million prime contract awarded by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to integrate component technologies developed under DARPA’s Dialysis-Like Therapeutics program. Aethlon was previously awarded a $6.8 million contract to develop two technology components under the program, which is intended to develop technology that can be used to filter septic precursors, bacterial toxins, and other harmful particles from the bloodstream. Aethlon said it also asked the FDA to allow the company to use its blood filtration device in a clinical feasibility study of Hepatitis-C (HCV) infected patients.