ZymoGenetics Trial Halted, Amgen’s Big New Drug, Spiration Gets FDA Nod, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

10/30/08Follow @xconomy

Seattle biotech had its usual highlights and lowlights this week. One local company won its first FDA approval, of a minimally invasive device for lung disease. Another regional bellwether had a clinical trial failure that sent its stock down 29 percent in a day. Lots of politicians were showing up on the innovation scene this week, and if there was a uniform message, I’d say it could be boiled down to this: stay focused.

With that, we’ll help you review the week that was:

—ZymoGenetics had a bad news/good news week. First, the bad: one of ZymoGenetics most important drug candidates, atacicept, was linked to infections in a trial of patients with lupus of the kidneys, forcing that trial to be halted and sparking a 29 percent one-day stock decline. Now the good: ZymoGenetics got Bristol-Myers Squibb to cough up $21 million to settle a patent lawsuit, which gives them a little more cash to weather the current storm.

—Redmond, WA-based Spiration won FDA approval of its first product, a minimally invasive device for patients with complications following lung surgery. It’s not a huge market—fewer than 4,000 patients each year—but it’s certainly a bit of good news for the local medical device sector.

—Amgen is putting its anemia drug woes behind it, with budding excitement over its experimental drug, denosumab. This week, I profiled Amgen scientist Bill Dougall, who is one of the key players in development of this drug for bone cancer uses, in addition to osteoporosis.

—Gov. Christine Gregoire was the headliner at the WBBA’s annual meeting, despite the pressures of dealing with a tight re-election race, and what she called a “dramatic downturn” in the economy. She urged biotechies to stay focused on their goals.

—Politicians were showing up everywhere on the life sciences scene this week. Rep. Jay Inslee gave a fiery talk at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum-West meeting in downtown Seattle. He encouraged renewable energy entrepreneurs and investors to organize a march on Washington in Feburary or March, because a “cavalry” of Democrats will sweep in to the nation’s capital to make changes in energy policy, he said.

—Ikaria had some bad news with its lead drug candidate, INOT27, for premature infants with bronchopulmonary disease. This is different from the sodium sulfide product it’s developing to induce hibernation on demand, which its Seattle group is developing.

—I profiled S3, a startup that aims to deliver research lab supplies faster, cheaper, and in a more environmentally sustainable way. They are pitching a reusable cold storage box that could wean biologists off the standard Styrofoam boxes that get chucked into the landfill.

—Sen. Patty Murray was part of a parade of big-name speakers at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s annual leadership retreat at Suncadia Resort last week. She urged leaders in global health to continue doing what they do, and not get distracted by the hard economic times.

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