West Coast Biotech Roundup: NanoString, Sequenom/Agena, CIRM, & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

In the life sciences, much of the attention was focused in the past week on the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago. We’ll have a separate roundup of that news, starring West Coasters and everyone else in Xconomy’s coverage areas. Happily for this roundup, however, there was plenty of non-ASCO activity in San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. Let’s get to it.

—Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HALO) of San Diego got regulatory relief Wednesday when the FDA lifted a clinical hold on the company’s Phase 2 trial of its recombinant human enzyme PEGPH20 as a first-line treatment in stage IV metastatic pancreatic cancer. Halozyme agreed to add to the trial extra measures and precautions related to the risk of blood clots, and the resumption of the trial lifted its share price 12.5% Thursday.

–Seattle’s NanoString Technologies (NASDAQ: NSTG) announced Tuesday a collaboration with Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) to build a companion diagnostic for the use of Celgene’s lenalidomide (Revlimid) in the treatment of diffuse large B-Cell lymphoma. NanoString receives $5.75 million upfront, and it could also earn $17 million in potential development and regulatory milestones and $22.25 million in potential commercial milestones.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, based in San Francisco, said May 29 it invested nearly $20 million in the development of two stem cell-related treatments, one for spinal cord injury at Asterias Biotherapeutics, the other for HIV/AIDS at Sangamo BioSciences (NASDAQ: SGMO) and City of Hope. The spinal cord program was once the property of Geron, and the first to test in humans a treatment derived from embryonic stem cells. Geron went bankrupt, however, and the program is now owned by Asterias, a division of Alameda, CA-based BioTime (NYSEMKT: BTX).

—Omeros (NASDAQ: OMER) of Seattle said Monday the FDA has approved Omidria, an injection of two agents, phenylephrine and ketorolac, that will dilate the pupil of the eye during cataract surgery and other ocular procedures and reduce post-surgical pain. It is Omeros’s first product approval.

—Seattle’s Kineta said Thursday it had tapped some of its drug development partners to start a $10 million round of funding to finance clinical testing of its compounds, starting with SHK-186 for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. The new funds will be held in a separate entity called KPI Therapeutics.

—Agena Bioscience bought the Bioscience business of Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM) for $31.8 million in cash and $4 million more in possible milestone payments, the companies said May 30. Both are based in San Diego. The deal gives Agena Sequenom’s MassARRAY System, a mass spectronomy-based genetic analysis tool, and its Bioscience facility.

Image courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives via a Creative Commons license.