Archus Orthopedics Angles For a Deal, Alder Takes on Roche, Cocrystal Raises $10 Million, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

9/25/08Follow @xconomy

There wasn’t a lot of headline news in Seattle biotech in the last week, but we found several interesting features that offer previews of what’s coming in the worlds of new drugs and devices.

–I learned about a small nonprofit in the Tri-Cities that has come up with a simple, elegant way to fix broken bones in the developing world without using expensive equipment. The organization, called Sign, has caught the eye of Seattle-based PATH, the global health organization, which has ideas for bringing this idea to the world stage.

–Medical device companies often fly below the radar, and we found one in our backyard that is developing artificial spine implants. Archus Orthopedics could do for the spine what orthopedists have been doing for years with modern hip and knee replacements.

–The former No. 2 executive at Icos, Gary Wilcox, re-emerged on the biotech scene last week in a big way, as chairman and CEO of Cocrystal Discovery, an antiviral drugmaker that has raised $10 million from an investment fund led by billionaire entrepreneur Phillip Frost. Memorable quote from the 61-year-old Wilcox: “I feel like I’m 21 again.”

–I sat down with Lee Huntsman, the director of Washington’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund for an in-depth interview about how this 10-year, $350 million program intends to make an impact on the local biotech sector. Readers are free to draw their own conclusions, but here’s his take on why Washington’s approach stacks up fairly well with the big boys from California and Massachusetts.

–Alder Biopharmaceuticals gave me the inside scoop on how it plans to take on Roche with a “fast-follower” antibody drug for rheumatoid arthritis. It’s an exciting time at Alder—we’ll know within a year if this drug is a serious threat to one of the world’s biggest pharma players.

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