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West Coast Biotech Roundup: Pharmacyclics, Gates, Ikaria & More

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will track its clients’ customers use of health-related digital tools—from Fitbits to social media check-ins at a gym—to provide clients, such as insurance group Humana, data that can be used for predictive analysis.

—Another digital health company aiming for a big impact is Chrono Therapeutics, which said Wednesday it now has the backing of San Francisco incubator and seed investor Rock Health to further its smoking cessation product.

—San Francisco-based nonprofit biotech Medicines360 got FDA approval Friday for its intrauterine device (IUD). It will comarket the product in the U.S. with Actavis under a unique model: Actavis will sell to the commercial market, and part of its revenues will help Medicines360 subsidize access to the contraceptive at low-income and public health clinics.

—The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s small biotech investment group made its largest investment yet, putting $52 million into Germany’s CureVac, which is making vaccines from natural messenger RNA. Beyond the equity stake, the foundation will also fund CureVac projects to treat rotavirus, HIV, and other infectious diseases.

—Serenus Biotherapeutics of San Francisco sold a 41 percent stake for $18 million to Malin, an Irish life sciences holding company chaired by former Elan CEO Kelly Martin. Serenus, which aims to develop previously approved drugs for the African market, is run by former Elan chief medical officer Menghis Bairu.

—Johnson & Johnson cut the ribbon on its long-planned South San Francisco incubator with 10 tenants. They include gene therapy developer Audentes Therapeutics, which has already raised significant venture cash, and Alkahest, which concurrently announced that plasma therapy firm Grifols would buy 45 percent of its shares for $37.5 million.

—San Diego-based Otonomy (NASDAQ: OTIC) said it has submitted a new drug application to the FDA for its long-lasting antibiotic gel, which is intended to treat middle ear infections in children undergoing tympanostomy tube placement surgery. The treatment could be introduced in the United States next year if approved with no delays.

—San Diego’s CoDa Therapeutics has raised just over $1 million of a planned $3.2 million round, according to a recent regulatory filing. CoDa has been advancing an experimental drug for healing wounds, saying it can dramatically improve the body’s ability to repair damaged tissue, and has been shown to work tissue types that include the eye, skin, brain, nerve, and spinal cord.

—Xconomy San Diego editor Bruce V. Bigelow contributed to this report.

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