San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Orexigen, Volcano, MediciNova, & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

Like an unwelcome advance, an offshore monsoon has San Diego in a hot and humid headlock that is expected to improve only gradually by the Labor Day holiday. Try to stay classy San Diego… Oh! And here is my life sciences briefing.

—San Diego-based Orexigen Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OREX) said it expects to collect enough new data in coming months to resubmit its new drug application for its anti-obesity pill, bupropion/naltrexone (Contrave). The FDA asked Orexigen to conduct an additional assessment of its weight-loss drug to rule out excess cardiovascular risk in overweight and obese patients. Orexigen said it would also submit an application for European approval.

—A federal appellate court panel upheld a lower-court ruling that favored San Diego-based Histogen in a patent infringement lawsuit filed by SkinMedica, a cross-town rival based in Carlsbad, CA. The litigation over skin care technology nearly put Histogen out of business. The six-year-old regenerative medicine startup was on the verge of closing on $2.4 million in funding in 2009 when SkinMedica filed the patent suit.

—San Diego’s Carolus Therapeutics joined forces with a non-profit patient advocacy group in Miami called The Alpha-1 Project to accelerate work on diseases associated with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. In patients with the genetic disorder, inflammatory enzymes run amok—causing an excessive breakdown of tissue in the lungs and elsewhere. Carolus Therapeutics did not disclose terms of the agreement, but said it includes a research collaboration and an equity investment in the drug and diagnostic startup.

Volcano (NASDAQ: VOLC), the San Diego medical device company that specializes in endovascular technology, said it is buying a diagnostic ultrasound catheter from Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) in a deal structured as an asset purchase. Financial terms were not disclosed. Volcano has been providing its intravascular ultrasound technology with Medtronic’s Pioneer Plus line of products for many years. The technologies enable medical teams to clear blockages in blood vessels without requiring surgery.

—San Diego’s MediciNova said the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health, will fund a clinical trial of ibudilast, one of the company’s leading drug candidates, for use in treating alcohol dependence. The amount of funding was not disclosed. The drug also is in mid-stage trials at Columbia University and UCLA as a treatment for opioid and methamphetamine dependence. The alcohol-dependence study will be conducted at UCLA.