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West Coast Biotech Roundup: Arena, Frazier, Kura, and Theranos

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groups of American and European scientists called for a unified effort to advance microbiome research.

—San Francisco software company Enlitic is building a computer system to help doctors make faster, more accurate diagnoses, and it’s gotten its first major customer in the Australian radiology provider Capitol Health. Capitol also is leading Enlitic’s $10 million Series B round of funding. Capitol, which has 51 clinics, will begin feeding its archives of MRIs, X-rays, and other diagnostic images into Enlitic’s system, which uses “deep learning” technology to make diagnoses.

—San Diego-based Vital Therapies is looking to raise $30 million in a follow-on offering of shares. Vital Therapies will use the money as working capital, to support general corporate functions and to advance its external liver assistance device, a cell-based system to treat acute liver failure.

—In third-quarter financial results posted last week, Shire said it had agreed to pay the former shareholders of San Diego’s Lumena Pharmaceuticals a total of $90 million in a negotiated deal covering all future contingent milestone payments. When Shire’s buyout of Lumena was announced last year, Shire agreed to pay $260 million upfront for the company, but details about milestone payments were not disclosed. Lumena was developing new oral drugs for four rare liver diseases, each arising from metabolic disorders that lead to a build-up of bile acid in the liver.

—San Diego’s Arcturus, which agreed to a worldwide research collaboration with J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals in June, has signed another partnership deal for work on rare diseases with Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ: RARE). Ultragenyx agreed to pay Arcturus $10 million upfront to discover and develop messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics. A spokeswoman says it’s the biggest monetary deal for Arcturus since the specialist in RNA interference (RNAi) technology was founded two years ago.

—Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS) said it earned a $5 million milestone payment from partner GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) that was triggered by the initiation of an early stage clinical trial of its experimental drug ISIS-GSK4-Lrx.

—Antiviral drugmaker Gilead Sciences of Foster City, CA, reported third quarter earnings that indicate sales of its blockbuster hepatitis C drugs are slowing down. But the biggest number of the report was $25 billion: the dollars Gilead has banked.

—Amgen of Thousand Oaks, CA, got FDA approval for the skin cancer drug known as T-Vec (talimogene laherparepvec).

—South San Francisco, CA-based Cytokinetics and its development partner Amgen reported positive Phase 2 results for their chronic heart failure drug omecamtiv mecarbil.

—Santa Monica, CA-based Kite Pharma (NASDAQ: KITE) said it signed a research and licensing agreement with Alpine Immune Sciences, a private biotech in Seattle developing ways to harness the body’s own immune system to target cancer and autoimmune disease. Kite will make an upfront payment of $5 million to Alpine, and agreed to make other payments, for rights to research, develop, and commercialize engineered autologous T cell therapies from Alpine.

—UC San Francisco is now enrolling women who face breast cancer surgery in a clinical trial for AVB-620, a diagnostic agent developed by San Diego’s Avelas Biosciences that helps surgeons differentiate cancerous tissue from healthy tissue in real time.

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