San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Halozyme, Pathway Genomics, Avanir

Xconomy San Diego — 

The short week before the July 4th holiday made for a quick wrap-up of news from San Diego’s life sciences community. Here’s my rundown.

—An important committee of the European Medicine Agency (EMA) gave a positive recommendation for a new formulation of Roche’s trastuzumab (Herceptin) that incorporates Hylenex, the FDA-approved drug delivery method from San Diego’s Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HALO), according to a Halozyme statement. Herceptin already is the world’s leading breast cancer drug, with more than $7 billion in revenue last year. Halozyme has developed a family of proprietary human enzymes, known as hyaluronidases, to temporarily break down cellular impermeability so that drugs can penetrate tissue more quickly and efficiently. The new formulation, called Herceptin HC, could potentially be administered in two to five minutes by subcutaneous injection instead of the 30 to 90 minutes required for an intravenous infusion. The EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use recommended the combination drug.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals, based north of San Diego in Aliso Viejo, CA, agreed to pay as much as $110 million to Yardley, PA-based OptiNose to license a fast-acting, dry-powder form of the pain killer sumatriptan to be used in an intranasal delivery system. Avanir said it is paying $20 million upfront, and the remaining $90 million is tied to future clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones. Avanir is assuming responsibility for advancing the drug-and-device combo for treating migraines, and said it plans to file a new drug application early next year. Last month, San Diego-based Zogenix (NASDAQ: ZGNX) disclosed a co-promotion deal to market dihydroergotamine mesylate (Migranal Nasal Spray) for treating migraines.

—San Diego’s Pathway Genomics said it has partnered with an affiliated business of Parkway Pantai, the largest private healthcare provider in Singapore and one of the largest private healthcare providers in Asia. Pathway provides genetic testing services to physicians and patients for a variety of medical issues such as cardiac health, cancer risk, carrier status for inherited diseases, and food metabolism and exercise response, as well as drug response for specific medications including those used in pain management and mental health.