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Halozyme Makes $20M Deal With Huge Swiss Pharmaceutical Firm

San Diego-based Halozyme Therapeutics Inc. entered into a $20 million agreement with Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche last week. Roche will apply Halozyme’s Enhanze technology, which helps the skin absorb drugs, to several of Roche’s products.

The technology has the potential to help drug makers maintain marketing power over biologic drugs with patents on the verge of expiring. Roche intends to reformulate some of its biologic drugs using Enhanze. Biologics are made up of living materials rather than chemicals. Examples include insulin and human growth hormone.

“We believe (a reformulated drug) would have an expedited approval at the (Food and Drug Administration),” said Halozyme Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Lim. “There may be some bioequivalent studies required to show it works similarly to the old drug.”

Under the agreement announced Dec. 5, Roche will pay Halozyme $20 million upfront for applying Enhanze to three of Roche’s biologic targets. Halozyme has the potential to earn up to $111 million during the next 10 years on that portion of the agreement.

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In addition, Halozyme can earn up to $47 million from Roche for each of 10 additional targets. Roche Venture Fund will also make an $11 million equity investment representing 5 percent of Halozyme’s outstanding common stock.

Shares of Halozyme, traded as HTI on the American Stock Exchange, jumped on the news and continued to rise.

The announcement was made after market close Dec. 5. Shares rose immediately, according to Lim, and continued to rise before the market opened Dec. 6. Shares closed up nearly 60 percent, at $4.55, that day.

Founded in 1998, Halozyme has around 35 employees.

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Feds Boost Nanogen Coffers:

The federal government awarded San Diego’s Nanogen Inc. a $4.5 million contract to develop a diagnostic test for the flu in conjunction with Menlo Park-based HX Diagnostics Inc.

The award pays for two parts of a five-phase project. If all phases are funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the companies could see a total of about $12.5 million during the next two or three years, according to Nanogen’s Dec. 4 announcement about the agreement.

The test is meant to help the government prepare for any potential influenza pandemic. The companies aim to develop a point-of-care, highly portable test that can detect influenza type A, B, seasonal flu, avian flu and new strains as they emerge. Nanogen said it plans to use the same technology for the flu test that is employed in its cardiac infarction products, which can deliver results in 15 minutes.

The day of the announcement, shares traded hands at more than twice their normal volume for the company , more than 1 million versus 472,004. Stock, traded as NGEN on the Nasdaq, closed that day at $2.23 per share.

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Athena Seeks Entries:

San Diego’s Athena, a professional group meant to foster women’s roles in life sciences and technology, is asking for nominations for its annual Pinnacle Awards.

The awards recognize women and men who have lived Athena’s vision of “fostering networking, risk taking, inspiration, recognition, and diversity of thought” that enhance “competitiveness and opportunity in San Diego.”

There is one general category for corporations and three for individual categories, technology, education and service provider.

Anyone may submit a nomination, for which forms can be found at http://athena.ucsd.edu. Entries are due by Feb. 23, and neither the nominee nor the nominator need be an Athena member. Winners will be announced at a luncheon sponsored by Heller Ehrman LLP on April 20 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego hotel.

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UCSD Cancer Center Looks At Business Opportunities:

The Moores UC San Diego Cancer Center is stepping up its partnerships with businesses to find new cancer therapies.

It announced Dec. 4 that it entered into an agreement with New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company Medarex Inc. UCSD will provide cancer targets discovered at the center, and Medarex has the option to develop and commercialize antibody therapeutics. UCSD will retain diagnostic rights.

The cancer center is one of 39 such centers in the country with the National Cancer Institute’s Comprehensive Cancer Center designation.

“We’re pooling our expertise to get the work done,” the center’s director, Dennis Carson, said in a statement. “We need to get new options to cancer patients as quickly as possible.”

According to the center, officials there are now in discussions with a potential diagnostics partner.


Contact Katie Weeks with biotechnology news at

kweeks@sdbj.com

, or call her at (858) 277-6359.

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