San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Tandem, Sorrento, Volcano, & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

[Updated 11/14/13 3:40 pm to show that Celladon postponed its IPO.] Another San Diego life sciences company completed its IPO, and at least one more local IPO (Biocept) is waiting in the wings for its moment in the spotlight. (San Diego’s Celladon has postponed its IPO.) We have details, along with the rest of the news.

—San Diego-based Sorrento Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SRNE) is taking another step in a turnaround saga that began four years ago when the biotherapeutics company merged with an inactive public company, Florida-based QuikByte Software. In a statement today, Sorrento says it is acquiring San Diego’s Concortis Biosystems in a stock deal valued at roughly $12 million. The buyout gives Sorrento proprietary linkers and toxins for creating antibody-drug conjugates. As part of its transformation, Sorrento has completed a $35 million financing in recent months, acquired the late stage cancer drug Cynviloq (a new formulation of Abraxan) and acquired resiniferatoxin, an early stage, non-opiate painkiller.

—Shares of San Diego’s Tandem Diabetes Care (NASDAQ: TNDM) began trading sharply higher on the Nasdaq exchange this morning, after the medical device maker became the seventh life sciences company in the region to go public this year. Tandem Diabetes Care, which makes a next-generation insulin pump, increased the size of its initial public stock offering yesterday, from 7.1 million shares to 8 million shares, and sold at $15 a share—at the high end of its expected range. Early trading today was above $19 a share.

—Engaged Capital, a Newport Beach investment firm headed by former Relational Investors partner Glenn Welling, has acquired a 5.1 percent stake in San Diego medical device company Volcano (NASDAQ: VOLC), according to a regulatory filing—and encouraging buyout speculation. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Welling said Volcano “is a very attractive acquisition candidate for the large medical device players within the cardiac space.” Potential buyers include Abbott and Medtronic. Welling said his firm has been talking with Volcano about ways to increase the stock’s value. Volcano makes products that help improve cardiac procedures.

—I got a chance to talk with Arena Pharmaceuticals CEO Jack Lief a few days after the San Diego diabetes drug developer said it had expanded its drug commercialization agreement with the Japanese drug giant Eisai. The revised deal enables Arena to work more broadly with Esai to evaluate other potential uses of lorcaserin, Arena’s weight-loss drug, such as helping smokers to quit.

—San Diego-based Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) named Francis deSouza as president, a new executive position. DeSouza, who was previously the president of products and services at Symantec, will lead Illumina’s business units and “core functions that envision, develop, and produce the company’s products.” He will report to Illumina CEO Jay Flatley, and also be responsible for directing the company’s strategy, planning, and operations.