West Coast Bio Roundup: Tessier-Lavigne, Twist, Unity, Grail & More

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company will change its name. She will become president and COO, with Avalanche CEO Paul Cleveland keeping his title. The deal will close in the second quarter upon Avalanche shareholder approval.

—In the wake of being run briefly by Martin Shkreli, KaloBios Pharmaceuticals filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late December in an attempt to reorganize. The firm objected this week when the Justice Department’s bankruptcy group recommended KaloBios switch to Chapter 7—a path to liquidation—and be placed under a trustee, as Reuters reported. KaloBios said in a statement this week that the recommendation was based on factual errors. The company said, for example, that it is still in discussions to buy a drug to treat Chagas disease—a deal that Shkreli had touted when he took over KaloBios last year.

—OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals of Bothell, WA, is cutting a quarter of its staff to help preserve the $55 million cash it had on hand at the end of 2015.

—Aira.io, a San Diego startup developing software-based guidance for visually impaired people, said it has raised $2.5 million in Series A financing after raising an initial $800,000 in October. Xconomy profiled Aira.io executive chairman Larry Bock last year.

—Former Encad CEO David Purcell has stepped out of retirement to develop a new type of medical walker—the LifeWalker—set for launch later this month at the American Physical Therapy Association meeting in Anaheim, CA. Purcell says he plans to incorporate artificial intelligence into future versions of the LifeWalker, which is designed to let users walk longer, more safely, and more comfortably than with conventional walkers and canes.

—Huya Bioscience International, a San Diego-based biotech developing drugs throughout Asia, said Japan’s Eisai is paying up to $280 million for rights to Huya’s experimental cancer drug HBI-8000 in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Singapore. HBI-8000 is being tested as a potential treatment for solid tumors and non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

—Pear Therapeutics of San Francisco and Cambridge, MA, has raised $20 million in private funding from 5AM Ventures, Arboretum Ventures, Jazz Venture Partners, and others. The firm is working on digital therapies for addiction and other mental health conditions.

—San Diego’s Conatus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CNAT) said the FDA has granted fast track status to emricasan, the company’s drug candidate for treating liver cirrhosis caused by nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

Photo of Stanford University courtesy of Kazuhisa Otsubo via a Creative Commons license.

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