A dispute over a failed biotech start-up may be the motive in one of two attempted murders in La Jolla, Calif., San Diego police say. Hans A. Petersen, former CEO of Traversa Therapeutics, allegedly shot his former chief scientific officer, Steven Dowdy, in the early morning hours of Sept. 18, hitting him once in the lower back.
Three hours later, Petersen allegedly broke into the home of Ronald Fletcher, his brother-in-law, and shot Fletcher once in the stomach. Fletcher managed to wrestle the gun away from Petersen. The two victims survived the attacks.
Dowdy is a professor of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Traversa was founded on small interfering RNA (siRNA) delivery technology that Dowdy developed at UCSD. The technology tackles the problem of delivering siRNA drugs to cells by taking advantage of macropinocytosis, a mechanism that cells use to ingest large amounts of material.
Traversa made some commercial progress, signing on Sanofi as a partner in 2010, but the company filed for bankruptcy early in 2012. Petersen and the firm had parted ways about a year before that. San Diego police speculate that Petersen blamed Dowdy for the loss of his job.You'll see that Mr. Petersen has a LinkedIn profile -- you really wonder if the people who he recommended are attempting to scrub their pages now...