Medivation Flunks Huntington’s Trial, Calibra Nabs Venture Cash, Open Source Biology Comes to SF, & More Bay Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy San Francisco — 

The open source biology movement is converging on San Francisco today at a conference organized by Sage Bionetworks, and I will be there today listening carefully to find out what it might mean for the future of drug development. More to come.

Calibra Medical, the Redwood City, CA-based developer of a mechanical pump for delivering insulin, raised the first $8 million out of a venture round that could eventually be worth as much as $30 million. The company is seeking to win over doctors and patients with a device that it says can compete on price with pre-filled syringes, while offering the convenience and discretion of a more complex and pricey electronic pump.

—San Francisco-based Medivation (NASDAQ: MDVN) and its partner, New York-based Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) said this week that their experimental drug dimebon failed in a pivotal study of patients with Huntington’s disease. Most investors are paying attention to Medivation’s treatment for prostate cancer, and so am I.

—UC San Francisco will be ground zero for the aforementioned open source biology movement today and tomorrow, as it will host the Sage Commons Congress. I already sounded off in this week’s BioBeat column that open source biology deserves a shot, given how lousy the status quo for drug development works as is. But today I’ll be listening carefully to learn more about what needs to be done to pull this off. If you want to check in on the action in real-time, check my tweets at @xconomy and @ldtimmerman.

Versant Ventures’ Beckie Robertson traveled up north to my neck of the woods late last week to deliver a pretty sobering message about how the medical device industry is in big trouble. But Robertson also outlined four interesting business models that she says can still work for med device entrepreneurship in this period of uncertainty at the FDA, and intense pressure on anything that raises healthcare costs.

Venture capital, on the rise? That was the somewhat odd headline my colleague Bruce Bigelow offered up this week, based on the first-quarter statistical roundup provided by CB Insights. VC funding climbed 27 percent in the last three months, compared to the same time a year ago.

—Lastly, since I’m in town for my usual once-a-month reporting trip, and the weather is nice, and, we just feel like it, Wade and I are in the mood to invite readers over to the office for an Xconomy open house. So come on over and say hi, after 5 pm on Monday, April 18th. Details here.