Nodality’s Personalized Medicine Recipe, Relypsa Pockets $70M, Big Oil Likes Seaweed Biofuel, & More Bay Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Francisco — 

One of the best things about covering life sciences innovation is weeks like this when we get to write about topics as diverse as seaweed biofuel and personalized cancer treatment. Get caught up on the week’s biotech headlines here.

—One fascinating new take on personalized cancer treatment is emerging in South San Francisco at Nodality, a company I profiled yesterday. Nodality, which uses sophisticated instruments and software to spot patterns in biological pathways of individual tumors, is getting ready to take its technology to the marketplace in a couple of months. CEO David Parkinson says he has secured a couple of Big Pharma partnerships, which haven’t yet been announced, and he’s in discussions with a couple more companies that want in.

The latest version of the Fierce 15 awards came out this week, and it’s a bit of a letdown for the Bay Area. Only two of these private biotech companies, considered by FierceBiotech as the among the most promising in the world, are from the Bay Area—South San Francisco-based iPierian and Berkeley, CA-based Plexxikon. New England claims the bragging rights as this year’s regional hotspot, as home to nine of the top 15.

—Seaweed isn’t usually the first place biofuel companies look to get their raw materials, but this concept got some important validation this week. Berkeley, CA-based Bio Architecture Lab secured a three-year partnership with Norway-based Statoil to develop capabilities to make ethanol from seaweed off the Norwegian coastline. Bio Architecture Lab has now pinned down more than $33 million in support from VCs, government grants, and strategic partners.

—Here was one news blurb from Seattle with a Bay Area connection. Genentech CEO Ian Clark said he’s resigning from the board of Seattle-based Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN), the developer of the first treatment to actively stimulate the immune system against cancer. In a statement, Clark said he doesn’t have enough time to serve on the board anymore. He joined the Dendreon board 11 months ago.

—The big venture deal of the week in Bay Area biotech happened at Santa Clara, CA-based Relypsa. This company raised $70 million to run clinical trials designed to show its new drug can get rid of excess potassium in the blood, a problem sometimes found in patients with failing kidneys.

—There was a whole slew of biotech readers out there who had things to get off their chest in the op-ed section of Xconomy. There was Stephen Bloch of Canaan Partners on why his firm likes to invest in antibiotics even when many firms don’t; Reg Kelly of QB3 on “the social contract of science;” Randy Osborne of Deloitte Recap on how cancer drug developers might speed up a historically slow process; and Jim Prutow of management consulting company PRTM on how life science tool companies can tap into new opportunities by branching out from the research customer base and moving into more regulated markets.

If you’ve got something to say that’s relevant for biotech readers, includes a strong opinion that’s not completely obvious conventional wisdom, and you can write it in a clear and conversational way, please send it along to me at or Xconomy San Francisco editor Wade Roush at