West Coast Biotech Roundup: Theranos, Medivation, Juno, and More

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commercial duties in the U.S. Venetoclax can only be used after the patient is confirmed via a FDA-approved diagnostic test to have the 17p deletion.

—After raising $45 million in Series A financing a couple weeks ago, San Diego-based Zavante Therapeutics said yesterday it has initiated a pivotal clinical study for its experimental drug, fosfomycin, an injectible antibiotic intended for hospitalized patients with complicated urinary tract infections. Zavante said 110 clinical sites around the world are expected to enroll 460 patients hospitalized with such infections.

—Tobira Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TBRA) of South San Francisco said Monday it has inked two deals with modest upfront payments with South Korean firm Dong-A. Tobira gains rights to Dong-A’s evogliptin, a diabetes drug approved in South Korea, and Dong-A gains rights to Tobira’s cenicriviroc. The companies plan to develop and market them in their respective regions, both as single products and in combination, particularly for the fatty liver disease NASH, which has gained a lot of attention from drug makers and regulators in recent years.

—Post-Shkreli, Kalobios CEO Cameron Durrant proclaimed Monday he is committed to a new business model “to define and develop transparent, responsible pricing for the products we hope to bring to patients in the future.”

Bloomberg reports that San Francisco biotech Medivation (NASDAQ: MDVN), which owns partial rights to the prostate cancer drug enzalutimide (Xtandi), recently shut the door on a takeover offer by Sanofi (NYSE: [[ticker:SNY])), but other offers, or even hostile takeover attempts, could be forthcoming.

—Juno Therapeutics (NASDAQ: JUNO) of Seattle made news twice the past several days. Last week it announced a 50-50 joint venture in Shanghai, China, with WuXi AppTech. Called JW Biotechnology, the startup will develop CAR-T cell therapies for the Chinese market. The CEO is James Li, formerly of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Amgen China. Early this week, Juno’s ally and investor Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) exercised a $50 million option for commercial rights outside the U.S. and China to Juno’s experimental products that aim to treat certain leukemias and lymphomas that carry the CD19 protein. Celgene and Juno forged a sweeping partnership last summer.

—The Seattle Times reports that Orbimed Advisors partner Stephen Thompson, who also teaches at the University of Washington, is starting a new biotech company called Silverback Therapeutics.

—St. Louis, MO-based RiverVest Venture Partners said it has officially opened an office in San Diego, where former BioMed Ventures principal Nancy Hong will join RiverVest managing director Niall O’Donnell, who has been working in San Diego for the past 10 years.

Molecular Stethoscope, a startup founded in San Diego by Stanford University’s Stephen Quake and Eric Topol of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, said Monday it is now collaborating with 23 academic and medical institutions to advance its technology. In a statement Monday, the company said it has developed proprietary technology that analyzes circulating cell-free RNA in a blood sample to monitor organ damage.

Cardiff Kook photo by Tim Buss, 2013 (creative commons).

Xconomy San Diego Editor Bruce V. Bigelow contributed to this report.

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