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The Biotech Sector Gets Back to Finding Funding and Cures

After the blissful humdrum of the holidays, there’s been a spate of activity in the biotech sector, including a few exciting new financing rounds.

Illumina Acquires ‘Big Data’ Tech Firm to Advance Gene Research

Biotech/Health Care Column

Illumina Inc. has acquired Silicon Valley-based NextBio Inc., which uses big data technology to systematically catalogue and interpret genetic data. This is a notable move for a company like Illumina that has a vested stake in lowering the cost of sequencing the human genome.

Life Science Job Candidates With Business Acumen in Demand

Biotechnology/Health Care

The profile of a life sciences employee has shifted dramatically, according to a new study published in Nature. Employers at biotech, medical device and pharmaceutical companies are now looking for well-rounded candidates who have some business acumen, as opposed to researchers who have deep — but myopic — knowledge of their niche fields.

Government Shutdown Muffles Biotech Sector’s Stock Boom

Biotech/Health Care Column

For the better part of a year, my column has basically been a log of how biotech has been booming. With the mergers and acquisitions, the partnerships and payouts, the mind-boggling number of initial public offerings, the industry has been showing a real turnaround — until this past week.

Vaccine Developer’s Research Efforts Boosted By $23.9 Million

Health Care/Biotechnology Column

Louis Pasteur crafted the first anthrax vaccine in 1881, helping curb the spread of a deadly disease. More than a century later, a San Diego company is working with the U.S. government to find a way to mass-produce these vaccinations, which are available but costly and difficult to preserve.

West Health Looks to Cable TV Model to Standardize Medical Devices

Biotech/Health Care Column

The folks at the West Health Institute offered an interesting analogy to explain how they plan to model their newly launched San Diego-based Center for Medical Interoperability Inc. — cable TV.

These Sorts of Signs May Mean It’s Time to Sell That Stock

Biotech/Healt Care Column

As far as I’ve seen, University of Michigan finance professor Kai Petainen is the only one pointing out — in a contributed column in Forbes — that several top executives at Neurocrine Biosciences Corp. sold shares in the weeks and months preceding a major drop in the biotech’s stock price.

American Specialty Health Will Move Its Headquarters to Indiana

Biotech/Health Care Column

Chasing a lower cost of living for employees and benefitting from state tax incentives, American Specialty Health Inc. plans to move its headquarters from San Diego to Carmel, Ind., next year, the company announced recently. It will maintain its office in San Diego, which employs about 800, but move corporate operations to the Midwest — a region that CEO George Devries says offers “a more business-friendly climate.”

Grant Makes Scientist the $6.4M Man of Stem Cell Research

Biotech/Health Care

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine recently met in La Jolla to dole out $40.6 million to 13 research groups throughout the state — including about $12.7 million to San Diego researchers.

Biotech and Beer: 2 of Life’s Great Pursuits (Life Technologies, That is)

Biotech/Health Care Column

Carlsbad-based Life Technologies Corp. just announced it has developed a test that quickly detects whether beer has spoiled. Unwelcome bacteria can impact the smell, taste and clarity of beer, and can be costly to brewers — or winemakers — that don’t catch a spoilt batch before bottling and distribution, said Nir Nimrodi, vice president and general manager of animal health and food safety at Life Technologies.

Vical Changes Course After Melanoma Drug Fails in Clinical Trials

Biotechnology Column

San Diego-based Vical Inc.’s recent stock plummet is testament to how critical late-stage trials are for any drugmaker — and how costly a failure in the clinic can be. Shares plunged 57 percent after the company announced its melanoma treatment did not work.

Roth’s Death Is Big Loss for Entrepreneurial Community

Biotechnology Column

With the death of Duane Roth, CEO of Connect, the San Diego technology community has lost a passionate advocate, astute businessman, a mentor and a friend, those who knew him said.

VC Backing Is aTyr’s Ticket to Clinical Trials for Its Proteins

News keeps rolling in about the biotechs bringing in the big bucks. This just in: San Diego’s aTyr Pharma Inc. has secured $59 million in funding — $49 million from venture sources and $10 million in debt financing. Investors in the equity financing include Alta Partners, Cardinal Partners, Domain Associates and Polaris Partners.

Two Local Biotechs Announce Positive Clinical Data, Stocks Soar

Biotechnology Column

Announcing positive clinical data can have a critical effect on a biotech’s stock value — as evidenced recently Halozyme Therapeutics Inc. and Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Ambrx Partners With Chinese Firm in a Co-Development Deal

Biotechnology Column

Pharma partnering deals are money, as evidenced by San Diego-based Ambrx Inc.’s recent bevy of licensing deals that could ultimately help the company bring in almost $1 billion.

Illumina Campus Is Bigger and Better as Part of Firm’s Growth Plan

Biotechnology Column

Right on the edge of the Interstate 805 is the latest addition to the sprawling Illumina Inc. campus: a spanking-new athletic complex and corporate amphitheater that seats 1,750.

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San Diego Biotech Companies See Growth as Funding Heats Up

Biotechnology Column

Biotech. It’s hot. On a local level, as widely reported, there’s been a string of IPOs and secondary public offerings across San Diego’s biotech landscape — as well as new funding announcements and heavy-hitting milestone payments.

Local Biotech Activity Hints at Sector’s Post-Recession Pickup

Biotechnology Column

It’s been a busy few weeks for San Diego’s biotechs. Acquisitions, partnership payouts and a number of IPOs are in the works—all signs that the sector, somewhat sluggish post-recession, is picking up its pace.

OncoSec Uses Social Media Forums to Improve Clinical Trials

Biotechnology Column

Social networking helps patients with life-threatening conditions find both valuable information and peer counsel — and drug companies are finding these forums highly useful in developing clinical trials and treatments.

Pharmaceutical Industry Leaders Soak Up San Diego’s Story

Biotechnology Column

A group of pharmaceutical heavy hitters recently convened in San Diego for the annual meeting of industry trade group PhRMA. The roster included National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, Eli Lilly and Co. CEO John C. Lechleiter, and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, among others.

Hospice Field Presents Many Challenges to the Players

Healthcare Column

As evidenced by the recent closure of San Diego Hospice, coordinating end-of-life care can be a tricky business. All around the country, hospices are increasingly facing scrutiny from Medicare as federal regulators bore in to cut costs in an overtaxed health care system.

Biotech Launches Subsidiary to Produce Cloned Synthetic DNA

Biotechnology Column

Synthetic Genomics Inc. in La Jolla has launched a new, wholly owned subsidiary called SGI-DNA that will allow customers to request custom sequences of DNA, and the company will synthesize the molecules for them.