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of $55 million and have a market valuation of about $167 million. Ligand owns almost 25 percent of the outstanding shares; Viking CEO Brian Lian, who was previously a senior equity research analyst covering biotech, also holds almost 25 percent, and Viking COO Michael Dinerman owns another 11 percent. The company plans to list its shares on the Nasdaq market under the ticker symbol VKTX.
—Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD) of Foster City, CA, said Wednesday that its pancreatic cancer treatment simtuzumab failed to meet the firm’s goals in a Phase 2 study. The study compared a combination of simtuzumab and the chemotherapy gemcitabine to gemcitabine-plus-placebo. The simtuzumab combination did not significantly increase patients’ progression free survival. Gilead’s chief scientific officer Norbert Bischofberger said in a statement that the company will continue with ongoing trials of simtuzumab in cancer, myelofibrosis, lung and liver diseases.
—Novo Nordisk, which is awaiting U.S. approval of a weight-loss drug, could significantly expand its obesity R&D staff, its chief science officer said in a Bloomberg News report published Thursday. Because the U.S. has a dire obesity problem as well as some of the best scientists, Novo Nordisk might center its efforts in its Seattle research facility, where it recently laid off its inflammation R&D team.
—Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO) said it has completed the listing of its Ion PGM Dx, a nex-generation genome sequencing system, with the FDA for clinical use as a medical device. Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies, which Thermo Fisher acquired earlier this year, has been responsible for bringing the desktop gene-sequencing machine to market.
—In a separate announcement, Thermo Fisher Scientific and the UC San Diego Office of Research Affairs unveiled the Duane Roth Innovation Grant, which provides $50,000 for sponsored research at UC San Diego to support proof of concept and technology applications. The grant honors the late Duane Roth, a longtime San Diego life sciences leader and CEO of Connect, the nonprofit group supporting technology innovation and entrepreneurship in San Diego.
—San Francisco-based Sutro Biopharma inked a deal with Germany’s Merck KGgA’s EMD Serono division to co-develop antibody-drug conjugates for treating cancer. The total amount of potential milestone payments is approximately $298 million, not including sales royalties. The companies did not disclose other financial details.
—Universal Cells, a company founded in 2013 to commercialize stem-cell technology developed at the University of Washington, has raised $290,000 in early stage funding through a convertible note. This first financing for the Seattle company comes from friends, family, and unnamed local investors. It will allow Universal Cells to advance product development and in vivo proof of concept studies of what CEO Claudia Mitchell described as “universally compatible pluripotent stem cells that engraft without immune rejection.” The firm is also pursuing partnerships with clinical-stage stem cell companies to use its universal donor cells for disease treatment, according to Mitchell.
—Carlsbad, CA-based Colorscience, which provides cosmetic and skin care products, said it has raised $15 million in a Series B preferred stock round led by Longwood Fund and joined by existing investors Montreaux Equity Partners and Split Rock Partners. Colorscience offers premium, “all-in-one” makeup for women.
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