San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Zogenix, Isis, Cellana, and More

Much of the life sciences news this week was coming out of the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago. Yet San Diego somehow managed to generate a lot of other news as well.

—Finland’s Biotie Therapies said it has an exclusive option to acquire San Diego’s Neurelis, a biotech that specializes in developing drugs for treating epilepsy and other disorders of the central nervous system. The two companies agreed to collaborate in the development of Neurelis’s lead drug candidate, a proprietary formulation of diazepam to be delivered by a nasal sprayer for treating seizures. As part of the deal, Biotie said it would pay $1 million for an exclusive option to acquire all outstanding Neurelis shares. Biotie would pay an additional $8.75 million if it decides to exercise the option.

—San Diego-based Zogenix (NASDAQ: ZGNX) cut its headcount by more than a third to extend its cash while it waits for the FDA to act on the company’s new drug application for its extended release formulation of hydrocodone bitartrate (Zohydro). Zogenix said the cutbacks would eliminate 55 full-time-equivalent employees (out of a workforce of 148 people).

—San Diego’s BioNano Genomics said it is presenting results of its new Irys System technology in Paris this weekend at the European Human Genetics Conference. The company says its genetic sequencing technology uses much longer strands of DNA than conventional DNA sequencing equipment, enabling scientists to prepare “de novo” maps of human genomes. BioNano Genomics says technologies that can sequence only short DNA strands aren’t good at determining precise variations in genomes, such as multiple repeats or translocations. The company says its de novo maps are proving to be crucial to fully characterize genomes.

—Finland’s Neste Oil, the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel, said it has signed a contingent commercial off-take agreement with Cellana, an algae biofuels developer based in San Diego and Kona, HI. The new partners said their deal would enable Neste Oil to purchase green crude made from algae by Cellana in the future. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

—Carlsbad-based Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS) said it received a $10 million milestone payment from London-based AstraZeneca after the pharmaceutical giant decided to expand their cancer drug collaboration. Isis also said underwriters of … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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