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San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Topera, Afraxis, Trovagene, & More

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feasibility and practicality of developing a broad spectrum DNA vaccine for immunizing people against three strains of equine encephalitis virus. The agency provides funding to develop medical countermeasures for biodefense agents and emerging pathogens. Ichor has been collaborating with partners to develop technology for electroporation-mediated delivery of DNA drugs and vaccines in humans.

—Under an agreement with PerkinElmer Health Sciences, San Diego-based Trovagene (NASDAQ: TROV) said it will design a diagnostic test to determine an individual’s risk for developing hepatocellular carcinoma. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Trovagene said their agreement includes milestone payments. Trovagene has developed a proprietary method for isolating fragments of nucleic acids that pass through the kidneys—and uses its technology to test for specific genetic material in urine samples. The company disclosed its collaboration in a regulatory filing.

—-San Diego’s Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: LGND) said it paid $3.5 million to acquire more than 15 biologic drug development programs from Selexis, the drugmaker based in Geneva, Switzerland. Ligand said each program is fully funded by a development partner, and the assets include drug candidates for treating cancer, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases. Ligand agreed to pay an additional $1 million in one year.

—A team of computational biologists and computer scientists working under the guidance of Trey Ideker, chief of genetics at the UC San Diego School of Medicine (and a San Diego Xconomist) completed a comprehensive update of Cytoscape—the leading open source visualization software supporting systems biology. Although it was originally designed for biological research, UCSD said Cytoscape has become a general platform for complex network analysis and visualization, with additional applications in software engineering and the study of social networks. There are about 6,000 downloads a month.

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