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Scientific Journal Highlights Work of La Jolla Researchers

A finding by La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology researchers was cited in the journal, Nature Medicine, as one of the key biomedical research advances of 2007.

The institute’s finding, based on laboratory studies in mice, demonstrated the role of a vitamin A derivative, retinoic acid, in fighting inflammation. The findings were originally published in Science Magazine in June 2007.

A research team led by Hilde Cheroutre was first to demonstrate that retinoic acid could play a role in modulating the switch between reducing and increasing inflammatory cells.

“It was quite an honor to have this kind of recognition,” Cheroutre said. “It was especially important to obtain that kind of recognition because it really puts the work in the spotlight so that many researchers will draw their attention to this.”

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Researchers said the finding could one day lead to new therapies using retinoic acid, already used in combination with other drugs to treat certain types of leukemia, aimed at treating inflammatory bowel diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

In addition to the La Jolla group’s finding, others highlighted in the article included research advances aimed at generating stem cells without destroying embryos, a discovery by Japanese researchers of a possible cellular trigger for lung cancer tumors and possible new therapeutic targets for heart disease.

The excerpts appeared in the trade journal’s December 2007 Year in Review.

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NuVasive Says Sales Higher Than Expected:

NuVasive Inc., the San Diego-based maker of minimally invasive surgical products for the spine, reaffirmed its loss expectations for 2007 and said Jan. 25 that it expected full-year revenues to top Wall Street expectations.

The company reiterated a full-year loss estimate of 31 cents to 35 cents a share, compared with analysts’ estimates of 34 cents a share, according to a poll by Thomson Financial.

The company said it now anticipates 2007 revenue of approximately $154 million and is guiding 2008 revenue at a range of $204 million to $208 million. Wall Street estimates called for 2007 revenues of $148.8 million and 2008 revenues of $202.7 million. The company said it would report its quarterly and fiscal 2007 results Feb. 19, following the market’s close.

“We remain on track to meet our long-term goal of mid-30 percent revenue growth rate over the next several years,” said Alex Lukianov, chairman and chief executive officer of NuVasive, in a prepared statement.

NuVasive makes and sells products called Maximum Access Surgery, or MAS, that allow surgeons to perform procedures from the side of the body instead of the back. The company also sells a kind of “smart instrument” called NeuroVision that alerts surgeons through sight and sound if they’ve ventured too close to vital nerves.

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Local Biotech Tops Chart For Biggest VC Deal In ’07:

Zogenix Inc., a local startup biotechnology company with offices here and in Emeryville, topped the list for the most amount of venture capital investment raised in 2007, according to a survey by the National Venture Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The Carmel Valley-based company raised $78.8 million from investors such as Abingworth Management Ltd., Clarus Ventures, Domain Associates LLC, Scale Venture Partners and Thomas, McNerney & Partners.

Zogenix is focused on the global development and commercialization of sumatriptan Intraject, a disposable, needle-free delivery system that will compete in the $2.5 billion triptan segment of the migraine market.

Other local companies to top the list included Ambit Biosciences, which raised $49.3 million in 2007, Nereus Pharmaceuticals, which garnered $45 million, and Novalar Pharmaceuticals Inc., which raised $42 million.

Send biotechnology-related news to Heather Chambers,


, or call (858) 277-6259, ext. 3125.


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