San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Ex-CEO Shoots Two, OncoSec, & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

[Updated 9/21/13 8 pm. See below.] It was a quiet week for life sciences news in San Diego, except for a shooting spree in La Jolla that wounded two people, including a prominent UC San Diego cancer scientist. Here’s my rundown.

—[Updated to show statement by Petersen about Traversa IP is in dispute] Hans Petersen, who was CEO of the defunct San Diego biotech Traversa Therapeutics, is being held without bail following his arrest yesterday in connection with a shooting spree that wounded two people in La Jolla. Police told U-T San Diego that Petersen, who was valedictorian of his 1998 University of San Diego MBA class, shot Steven Dowdy, a prominent UC San Diego cancer biologist and business partner at Traversa, and Ron Fletcher, a real estate investor and Petersen’s estranged brother-in-law. Traversa, which raised $10.5 million in venture equity and debt financing, filed for bankruptcy last year. Petersen wrote in his LinkedIn profile that some of Traversa’s proprietary technology in RNA interference was licensed to Dowdy’s company, Solstice Biologics. But that claim is disputed by investor Corey Goodman of VenBio, according to a BioWorld account. In an interview with the NBC affiliate in San Diego, Petersen’s ex-wife Bonnie Fletcher said she was terrorized by her ex-husband, who also blamed Dowdy for firing him and ruining the company.

OncoSec Medical, a San Diego company with electroporation technology for treating solid tumors, said it raised about $12 million through a public offering that included nearly 47.8 million shares of common stock at 25 cents a share and warrants to purchase another 23.9 million at 35 cents a share. OncoSec, which trades on the over-the-counter market under the ticker symbol ONCS, plans to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, including clinical trial expenses and R&D.

—The San Diego-based Gary and Mary West Foundation said it has provided an undisclosed grant to fund a new independent nonprofit organization, the Center for Medical Interoperability, to help hospitals make different types of medical technology work together. The center will be established with personnel and royalty-free technology licensed from the Gary and Mary West Health Institute. The Center will focus on developing and promulgating standards-based technical solutions to drive adoption of medical interoperability, so that health information to be seamlessly shared among medical devices and enterprise health systems to optimize health care delivery. The center’s executive director is Ed Cantwell, previously lead of the medical grade wireless utility at the West Health Institute.

—In a new strategic initiative, San Diego’s Aethlon Medical said it is launching a new business based on a “dormant and unvalued diagnostic” to diagnose and monitor the progression of cancer, infectious disease, and other life-threatening conditions. The company’s subsidiary, Exosome Sciences, has technology to detect exosomes produced by diseased cells. CEO Jim Joyce said Aethlon’s primary focus would remain commercializing its hemopurifier technology. Aethlon trades on the over-the-counter market under the ticker symbol AEMD.

—San Diego’s Prometheus Laboratories named Lisa Miller as CEO. She was previously a corporate vice president at DAKO, an Agilent Technologies company based in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she was responsible for their global cancer diagnostics business. Miller has more than 25 years of experience in medical diagnostics and devices.