West Coast Biotech Roundup: Alder IPO, Exelixis, Corcept, and More

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combines the experimental Exelixis drug cobimetinib with Roche’s approved drug vemurafenib (Zelboraf) in patients with advanced melanoma. For 63 patients who had never received vemurafenib previously, the combination of vemurafenib and cobimetinib led to an anti-tumor response of some kind in 87 percent, with 10 percent showing a complete disappearance of the cancer. Exelixis received its first drug approval in 2012 for the thyroid cancer treatment cabozantinib.

—Menlo Park, CA-based Corcept Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CORT) said it halted a late-stage trial for its psychotic depression drug mifepristone after an interim analysis showed the trial would not meet its goal of quickly reducing psychotic symptoms. Corcept shares fell by more than 50 percent after the announcement, ending regular trading Wednesday at $1.99 a share.

—Santa Clara, CA-based ProteinSimple disclosed its plans for an IPO, although the company said the number of shares to be offered and the price range has not yet been determined. ProteinSimple makes proprietary systems and consumables used in protein analysis.

—San Diego’s Ambrx hopes to raise as much as $86 million through an IPO to advance its technology for developing protein therapeutics for treating cancers, diabetes, and other diseases and disorders. Ambrx specializes in antibody-drug conjugates, and is working independently and under strategic partnerships signed with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Eli Lilly, Zhejiang Medicine, and others.

—A spokesman for Solana Beach, CA-based Evoke Pharma (NASDAQ: EVOK), which has been developing a nasal spray formulation of metoclopramide for treating gastroparesis in women with diabetes, told me by e-mail that results of a mid-stage study showed its drug was well-tolerated and patients exhibited “statistically significant symptomatic improvement.” Evoke Pharma’s data was presented last weekend in Chicago at Digestive Disease Week 2014. Diabetic gastroparesis is a complication of diabetes in which the stomach doesn’t empty food into the intestine quickly enough, leading to abdominal pain, bloating, and vomiting.

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