San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Optimer, Ambit, AnaptysBio, & More

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technology for developing antibody drugs—including a monoclonal antibody for treating rheumatoid arthritis. RuiYi CEO Paul Grayson said the company has signed partnership deals with arGEN-X, CMC Biologics, and Genor BioPharma to commercialize novel biologic drugs in China to treat autoimmune diseases and cancer.

—San Diego’s AnaptysBio landed a government contract to produce batches of antibodies to counter the deadly effects of ricin, a biological agent that is relatively easy for bioterrorists to make. AnaptysBio CEO Hamza Suria said the company would deliver its ricin antibodies to the U.S. Army’s Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center, a Maryland-based agency regarded as the U.S. bulwark for chemical and biological defense.

—An international team of scientists that included Synthetic Genomics founder and CEO J. Craig Venter said it demonstrated a new method for developing synthetic vaccine viruses for use in flu vaccine development that took just four days and four hours. The new approach could enable a much more rapid response to pandemics, according to a May 15 study in the journal Science Translational Medicine. In comparison, it took nearly seven months to develop a vaccine for the H1N1 flu outbreak of 2009.

—[Clarifies that Optimer moved headquarters to Jersey City] The share price of Optimer Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OPTR), which moved its headquarters to Jersey City, NJ, late last year from San Diego, soared following a Bloomberg report that AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN), Japan’s Astellas Pharma, and Cubist Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CBST) made first-round bids to acquire Optimer. The company makes the antibiotic fidaxomicin (Dificid) for treating intestinal infections caused by C. difficile bacteria. Optimer shares soared on a similar report in early April.

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