Hyperion Nails Pivotal Trial, ChemoCentryx Aims High Against Crohn’s, Vivus Shot Down by FDA, & More Bay Area Life Sciences News

Who am I kidding about the importance of biotech news this week? The San Francisco Giants and the election owned the news cycle, and rightfully so. I hear from a reliable source that Xconomy founder Bob Buderi, a Bay Area native and lifelong Giants fan, is “very happy.” But in case you missed a few biotech dispatches, here’s a chance to catch up.

—Rare diseases are hot these days, and we saw some strong evidence to support the idea from South San Francisco-based Hyperion Therapeutics. The company, which raised $60 million a year ago, passed its pivotal clinical trial with a new drug for urea cycle disorders, and plans to file an application with the FDA before the end of September.

—Mountain View, CA-based ChemoCentryx is starting to show it might have created an effective oral pill for Crohn’s disease, after raising more than $330 million over the past 13 years. ChemoCentryx partner GlaxoSmithKline presented some eye-opening data from a mid-stage clinical trial late last month.

Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR), the San Carlos, CA-based biotech company, said it has struck a $50 million agreement with Amgen to make polymers that are a key ingredient in pegfilgrastim (Neulasta), the hit drug Amgen markets to help stimulate infection-fighting white blood cells for cancer patients.

—The obesity and diabetes drug business has been reeling the last few weeks, and the latest data point came from Mountain View, CA-based Vivus (NASDAQ: VVUS). Vivus’ application to market a new obesity drug was turned down by the FDA, which asked for more evidence on whether the drug is linked to birth defects or miscarriages.

—Last but not least, a Boston biotech CEO turned in a gem of an op-ed piece this week on how he’s learned Twitter can be a valuable resource, not a waste of time. Like me, the author, Stromedix CEO Michael Gilman, is wondering when (or if) large numbers of biotech executives and scientists will join the Twittersphere.

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