Laguna Pharamceuticals moves to La Jolla


4742089272_c6355d6774_oLaguna Pharmaceuticals announced that they will hire a new CEO and move to La Jolla, Calif. from its original location in Cleveland, Ohio.
The biotech company intends to use the move to San Diego and the $30 million it acquired through funding to help further its research on its first drug, Vanoxerine. Used to treat irregular heartbeat, it is possible that the drug will replace electric defibrillation.
Russ Adwan, a senior studying to go to medical school, believes that there are many reasons why Laguna Pharmaceuticals moved to San Diego.
“If you want to test a cardiac pill, the first thing you’ll need is a population with either a high risk or high rate of cardiac issues,” Adwan said, “That’s your retirement community, mainly, and we have a large population of them here in San Diego. And then you’re going to need some medical institutions to help you with your research. That’s where places like Sharp, Kaiser Permanente, and UCSD School of Medicine. All in all, it was a pretty smart move to come down here.”
In addition to the high concentration of retirees and the presence of several large medical institutions, San Diego is also home to many biotech companies. These companies, such as Simply Biotech and VLP Biotech, will be able to assist Laguna Pharmaceuticals in its research on Vanoxerine, as well as partner up on other endeavors, such as new types of drugs.
Vanoxerine is intended to treat atrial fibrillation, which is the leading form of irregular heartbeat that causes poor blood flow in patients. This can lead to clotting, cardiac arrest, and death.
The usual treatment for irregular heartbeat is an amiodarone or the use of a defibrillator or pacemaker, which may be implanted in patients in severe cases. However, unlike amiodarone, vanoxerine does not appear to cause any harmful side effects, placing it a step above its contender.
According to the American Stroke Association and the American Heart Association, atrial fibrillation affects at least 1 in 100 people in their fifties and at least 1 in 10 people in their 80s.
In terms of USD’s population of 5,665 students, those statistics will mean at least 566 students will develop atrial fibrillation by the time they reach their 80s.
The significant advantage that a drug has over an implanted device will mean students may be able to avoid an operating room, therefore cutting health expenses and allowing for more opportunities to complete a bucket list unhindered by an implant.
USD is also home to a prominent nursing school, full of students who will one day deal with many patients who are either in need of having an implantation or who already have one that requires maintenance. Theresa Wong is a student visitor at the school, who agrees that a pill would be much more convenient than an implant.
“My mom actually needs an implant at the moment,” says Wong, a first year nursing student, “She has to get it changed every five years and can’t do a good amount of basic things like using the microwave because she’s afraid that it’s going to break. Having a pill would definitely take the fear out of her daily life and help her function at least somewhat normally again.”
Vanoxerine has performed successfully in cell cultures and canine test subjects and is currently being clinically tested on patients.
According to test results, 400 milligrams of the drug seems capable of producing the same results as an electrical defibrillator.
Further testing is needed before the drug may be able to enter the market and help patients with atrial fibrillation.