West Coast Biotech Roundup: Alfred Mann, ResMed, Illumina, & More

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The Los Angeles Times. He was 90. The serial entrepreneur founded a number of device companies that developed breakthrough products, including the first rechargeable pacemaker, an artificial retina, and an advanced insulin pump. MannKind, however, struggled to bring its inhaled insulin product Affrezza to market, only to see its marketing partner Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) ditch the product earlier this year. Mann had recently resigned from the company.

—San Diego’s Renova Therapeutics said it was awarded a $802,500 grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue its preclinical research on a gene therapy treatment for congestive heart failure. The grant] enables Renova to continue its work on the treatment, which is meant to boost the production of a key protein in heart cells and hopefully reverse the degeneration of heart tissue [right?]. Renova intends to eventually move the prospective treatment to human studies.

More CIRM-funded work: Jeanne Loring of The Scripps Research Institute and Nik Schork of the J. Craig Venter Institute, both in San Diego, published work concluding that pluripotent stem cells that are created by reprogramming adult cells should be viable to use in cell therapies. There have long been worries that so-called induced pluripotent stem cells could harbor mutations that, when put into a patient, might cause cancer. But the new study said the process of induced pluripotency is “unlikely to introduce variants that would make the cells inappropriate for therapy.”

—A new clinical trial unit for immuno-oncology is taking shape at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, with the Fred Hutch, the University of Washington, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and Juno Therapeutics (NASDAQ: JUNO) all investing. All its participants’ trials will be consolidated in one space, which should be up and running in mid-2016.

—Caribou Biosciences of Berkeley, CA, signed a nonexclusive license with Integrated DNA Technologies of Coralville, IA, for CRISPR-Cas9 research material.

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