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West Coast Bio Roundup: Google/Insel, SeaGen, Avalon, Alector & More

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upfront for Xencor’s help developing up to six “bi-specific” antibody therapeutics, which means they can attach to two different targets at once. Amgen brought a bi-specific antibody to market last year, blinantumumab (Blincyto), which received a fast-track approval from the FDA for a rare form of leukemia.

—Celgene is paying $25 million to an academic consortium that specializes in antibody production for cancer therapeutics. The consortium comprises the University of California, San Francisco, the University of Chicago, and the University of Toronto. Its three cofounders, now spread amongst those schools, are all Genentech alumni.

—Raptor Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ: RPTP) said Monday that its drug to treat children with the liver disease nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, failed a Phase 2b trial. Raptor’s share price has been cut nearly in half, from $12 a share to just under $7 at Thursday’s close. The data will be presented at a medical conference in San Francisco in November.

—XenoPort (NASDAQ: XNPT) of Santa Clara, CA, said Tuesday that a 200-patient, 12-week Phase 2 trial for its psoriasis treatment yielded positive top-line results, and its CEO said in a statement Phase 3 trials could start next year. But investors noted poor side-effect data and sent the stock down about 25 percent to $4.84 a share, and it has continued south since then, closing Thursday at $4.41.

—Ventrix, a six-year-old bioengineering startup in San Diego, has initiated a Phase 1 trial of VentriGel, a naturally derived biomaterial designed to help heart tissue regenerate after a heart attack. The technology, developed at UC San Diego in the bioengineering lab of Karen Christman, is regulated by the FDA as a biologic and in Europe as a medical device. The trial will enroll patients who sustained their first heart attack within the past three years.

—San Diego’s Molecular Response named Brett Hall as its new CEO. With Hall, a former Medimmune/AstraZeneca executive, the company aims to shift its business from diagnostics to therapeutics.

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

—Photo of Alcatraz Island courtesy of Brian Shamblen via a Creative Commons license.

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