San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Fate, Ligand, BioNano, and More

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Sirenas Marine Discovery, was named a MacArthur Fellow “genius grant” recipient for 2013. Baran and 23 other recipients around the country will each receive $625,000 over the next five years, according to the MacArthur Foundation of Chicago. The awards are intended to honor creative and accomplished individuals in any field with strong potential for future achievements. The foundation noted that Baran recently developed an affordable, elegant method for synthesizing cortistatin A, an unusual, marine-derived steroidal alkaloid that has shown strong potential in treating conditions that range from macular degeneration to cancer.

—San Diego-based Pfenex said the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has exercised an option that adds $8 million to an $18.8 million contract awarded in 2010 to develop a vaccine for anthrax. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services established BARDA to develop countermeasures against biological, chemical, and other pervasive deadly agents.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: LGND) said it earned a $425,000 milestone payment from Pfizer after the FDA gave its approval to conjugated estrogens/bazedoxifene (DUAVEE) to relieve certain symptoms associated with menopause. Ligand developed the drug under a broad research collaboration with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, now a Pfizer subsidiary.

—San Diego-based Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM) said it has submitted a Premarket 510(k) notification to the FDA for its IMPACT Dx System and a related genetic analysis test. Sequenom said it is finalizing plans to commercialize its IMPACT Dx System in a number of European countries that require CE marking.

—San Diego’s Sanitas, a health IT startup operating a social networking platform for use by the chronically ill, their caregivers, friends, and families, said it is introducing a free online program to help ordinary people predict their future health risks. Sanitas said its Family Healthware system helps identify a user’s genetic predisposition to chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, and cancer. The system also provides a personalized prevention plan to help people minimize their future health risks.

—The San Diego Tech Coast Angels gave its grand prize award in its annual quick pitch competition to OvaPal, a San Diego startup that developed wireless technology that enables a woman to optimize the odds of getting pregnant by tracking her temperature. The award included a check for $20,000 from the John G. Watson Foundation.

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