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merger talks with the University of Southern California. The talks were soon scuttled. Paulson headed research at San Diego’s Cytel before joining the institute in 1999. Marletta took the top job at Scripps in 2011, taking over for Richard Lerner, who had held the post for 20 years.
—Drug giant Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and genetic data firm 23andMe, of Mountain View, CA, said Tuesday they would join to study inflammatory bowel disease. The companies hope to enroll 10,000 people previously diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis in a genetic study of the factors associated with IBD. 23andMe, which the FDA no longer allows to provide health-related genetic analyses, sells ancestry reports and raw genetic data to consumers.
—San Diego biopharmaceutical firm Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: LGND) said this week it has arranged a $225 million debt financing and plans to use the net proceeds to repurchase about $40 million worth of its own stock, to pay off certain hedge transactions, and for general corporate purposes. After a long turnaround and some shareholder discontent, Ligand sold off several pipeline programs in May, including an oral treatment for Type 2 diabetes in mid-stage clinical trials that the licensor, Viking Pharmaceuticals, designated as its lead candidate.
—The Seattle-based nonprofit health organization PATH has teamed with multinational health care firm Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) on the first shipment of what it calls “semisynthetic” artemisinin derivative, an anti-malarial treatment that is typically produced from the herb sweet wormwood. The news comes a year after the two entities announced the launch of a large-scale production facility in Italy. The program is based on synthetic biology techniques developed at UC Berkeley that are not without their critics. Sanofi says it is committed to keeping the cost of the semisynthetic product low for developing countries. The original botanically-derived version is the standard of treatment for malaria but is discouraged as a single therapy because of growing resistance by the malaria-causing parasite P. falciparum.
—ViaCyte, the San Diego regenerative medicine company developing an artificial pancreas to treat type 1 diabetes, said it has raised $5.4 million through a private equity financing. The privately held company said the latest sale of Series C-1 Preferred Stock brings the total invested to $16.5 million. ViaCyte recently submitted applications to begin a clinical evaluation of its lead product candidate, which consists of pancreatic precursor cells encapsulated in a proprietary, immune-protective medical device that is implanted under the skin.
—Seattle biotech Oncothyreon (NASDAQ: ONTY) said Monday it acquired Alpine Biosciences, also of Seattle, for about $27 million in stock based on the acquirer’s stock price at market close August 8. Alpine is developing a nanoparticle drug delivery technology it calls “protocells” that Oncothyreon said in a release it would use to develop new therapeutics for cancer and rare diseases. The platform was developed at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center and Sandia National Laboratories. Oncothyreon issued 9.3 million shares, about ten percent of its stock, to cover the deal.
—San Diego-based BioNano Genomics says use of its technology for identifying structural variations in whole genomes is expanding. The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is the latest genome research center to buy BioNano’s Irys System, which the company says can provide more specific info about the location of genes on chromosome, repetitive elements, and structural variations. BioNano says the advantage of its genome technology is that it analyzes significantly longer DNA strands.
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