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San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Vical, Sequenom, Sophiris, and More

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bigger-than-expected losses because of a delay in the collection of diagnostic segment revenues.

—San Diego-based Afraxis and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals signed an agreement that will enable the Marlborough, MA-based pharma to use Afraxis technology to assess the effectiveness of potential drug compounds in treating disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). The new Afraxis technology advances neuroscientists’ ability to rapidly analyze how drugs affect dendritic spines—the pinhead-like protrusions along the neuron’s cell body.

—San Diego’s DermTech said it has raised $5.6 million in Series B founding to develop a non-invasive diagnostic test for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Jacobs Investment, the Del Mar, CA-based investment arm of Qualcomm scion Gary Jacobs, led the new round of financing, which was joined by unnamed new and existing investors.

—Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) completed its billion-dollar buyout of Aragon Pharmaceuticals, the San Diego cancer drug developer. Meghana Keshavan of the San Diego Business Journal reported that former Aragon CEO Richard Heyman and other Aragon executives and staff have formed a new San Diego company, Seragon Pharmaceuticals, that intends to use some Aragon technology to develop a breast cancer treatment. J&J paid $650 upfront to acquire Aragon, with an additional $350 million in milestone payments.

Epic Sciences, the San Diego biotech startup developing advanced cancer diagnostics technology, named Murali Prahalad as president and CEO. Prahalad was previously the vice president of corporate strategy at Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies. Epic is developing technology to detect and identify cancer cells that may be circulating in a blood sample.

—San Diego-based Acadia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACAD) named Terrence Moore as Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. Moore, who reports to Acadia CEO Uli Hacksell, is responsible for leading Acadia’s commercial activities. The company is developing new treatments for disorders of the central nervous system.

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