San Diego Life Sciences Roundup: Auspex, Biocept, Halozyme & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

There was a certain symmetry in the great circle of life that played out in San Diego’s life sciences industry over the past week, with two IPOs and two buyouts. Here are the details, along with the rest of the local life sciences news.

—San Diego’s Auspex Pharmaceuticals priced its IPO at $12 a share, raising gross proceeds of $84 million. The biopharmaceutical is developing longer-lasting versions of small-molecule drugs already approved by the FDA for central nervous system disorders. Trading in Auspex (NASDAQ: ASPX) opened above $15 on Wednesday, and traded up slightly. The stock closed at $15.97 in regular trading yesterday, gaining 31 cents, or almost 2 percent, for the day. The company’s lead drug candidate is a deuterium-based analog of tetrabenazine (Xenazine), a drug the FDA approved four years ago for treating the involuntary movements, or chorea, associated with Huntington’s disease and other neural disorders.

Biocept, a San Diego developer of diagnostic tests for circulating tumor cells (CTC), raised $19 million in its IPO, which offered 1.9 million shares at $10 a share. The price of Biocept (NASDAQ: BIOC) shares has been drifting downward since the IPO pricing, and closed in regular trading yesterday at $8.65 a share, down 75 cents, or nearly 8 percent for the day. The company is developing its technology as a more precise diagnostic test for different types of breast cancer. The company faces substantial financial challenges, however, including an accumulated deficit of approximately $120 million at the end of September, according to a regulatory filing.

—After clearing regulatory hurdles in the United States and Europe, Waltham, MA-based Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO) said it has completed its $13.6 billion purchase of Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies. Mark Stevenson, who was previously the COO of Life Technologies, will take over the business as executive vice president of a new division, called Life Sciences Solutions.

—San Diego-based Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HALO) priced a secondary public offering of nearly 7.7 million shares of common stock at $13 a share. The offering is expected to close next week, subject to customary closing conditions. Halozyme also granted underwriters a 30-day option to purchase more than 1.1 million additional shares.

—-Accelrys (NASDAQ: ACCL), the San Diego provider of lifecycle management software used in scientific and industrial innovation, said it has developed ScienceCloud, a new Web-based service for information management and research collaboration. The French software developer Dassault Systèmes is acquiring Accelrys for $750 million in cash. In an interview with Bio-IT World, Accelrys CEO Max Carnecchia said after the deal closes, expected in two to three months, the Accelrys name will likely go away and Dassault Systèmes will announce a new brand for the business.

—San Diego-based Ichor Medical Systems, said it has entered into a collaboration and licensing deal with Pfizer that will use Ichor’s electroporation technology to administer DNA-based vaccines. Electroporation is a method that uses electrical pulses to create temporary pores in cell membranes. The idea is to make it easier for cells to take in a DNA-based vaccine or other substance.

—San Diego’s Leading BioSciences, a pharmaceutical startup developing new treatments for acute shock and organ failure, named Robin Jackman as CEO. Jackman was previously a senior vice president at Vical. Leading BioSciences, previously known as Leading Ventures, now has five employees and has raised a total of about $6 million, according to Hank Loy, a top executive. Leading BioSciences operates InflammaGen, which I profiled in 2011.