San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Vical, Fate, Arcturus, and More

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the patented portfolio of Unlocked Nucleobase Analog (UNA) intellectual property from Marina Biotech. Financial terms of the UNA agreement were not disclosed. Arcturus, which moved into space at the Janssen Labs life sciences incubator, said the use of UNAs to silence aberrant gene expression through in RNA interference (RNAi) is a promising new approach in treating disease. Using UNA technology could improve potency, selectivity, and duration of action, according to Pad Chivukula, the startup’s chief scientist.

—San Diego’s Torrey Pines Investment said it’s committing as much as $20 million to BioMotiv, a Cleveland, OH-based business accelerator, to help commercialize life sciences breakthroughs from anywhere around the world over the next seven years. The 11-year-old investment firm, which has close ties to the Russian and Ukrainian pharmaceutical industries, said it also will provide its expertise in contract research to startups formed to advance new technologies. BioMotiv is an accelerator associated with The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, a $250 million program at the University Hospitals of Cleveland.

Biocom, the San Diego life sciences trade association, has joined a chorus of calls for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to resign following a series of sexual harassment complaints. In a statement, Biocom CEO Joe Panetta said, “Nothing even vaguely resembling this level of behavior would ever be tolerated in the private sector. At a time when the life science community in San Diego has enjoyed unprecedented success, the city of San Diego itself has effectively become a punch line, and the mayor’s credibility has been damaged beyond the point of any reasonable expectation of rehabilitation.”

—After partnering with Pfizer in 2011 to create a private online marketplace that enables scientific research providers to bid for research contracts, San Diego-based Assay Depot said it is extending the project for three years with an improved technology platform. In a statement, Assay Depot said its enhanced Pfizer Research Exchange now serves as an end-to-end sourcing, purchasing, and tracking system for research projects. Assay Depot also has developed similar online exchanges for the National Cancer Institute (announced last week) and AstraZeneca. The company said it has deals with two other large pharma partners that have not yet been formally announced.

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