Bruce Carter Exits Stage Left, Targeted Genetics Cuts Payroll, OncoGenex Cancer Drug Prolongs Lives, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

12/4/08Follow @xconomy

The big news of the past couple weeks came before Thanksgiving, when one of Seattle’s biotech pioneers, Bruce Carter, decided to exit stage left. Here is that and other highlights of the past two weeks:

—ZymoGenetics’ charismatic CEO Bruce Carter, 65, has decided to retire at year’s end, and promote Doug Williams to take his place. Carter’s going to stay on as Zymo’s chairman, and serve on the boards of the TB Alliance and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, so local biotechies shouldn’t expect him to vanish.

—Targeted Genetics said it is cutting its payroll by 25 percent, through a combination of seven layoffs, deferring salaries of executives, and cutting some of their pay by half. The Seattle biotech company (NASDAQ: TGEN) is actively shopping some of its assets in a bid to stay alive, with just enough cash to operate into the first quarter of 2009.

—Some bona fide good news emerged this week from OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals, the cancer company with headquarters in Vancouver, BC, and Bothell, WA. It said a mid-stage clinical trial of 82 men with prostate cancer found its experimental drug in combination with standard treatment was able to boost median survival times by 10.6 months when compared to the standard drugs alone. Shares of OncoGenex (NASDAQ: OGXI) rocketed up 75 percent on the news.

—University of Washington epidemiologist Laura Koutsky gave a fascinating talk about the pros and cons of HPV vaccines, as part of the local “Science on Tap” discussion series. Koutsky played a pioneering role in the development of Merck’s Gardasil, and she had a few choice words for the evangelicals who argue that the vaccine encourages young girls to be sexually promiscuous.

—Scout Medical Technologies never did much to blow its own horn, but in a where-are-they-now feature piece, I discovered that this medical device incubator (which no longer exists) gave birth to three successful emerging companies in Seattle. Click here to read updates about its descendants—Archus Orthopedics, EndoGastric Solutions, and Cardiac Dimensions.

—Accelerator, the best-known incubator of life sciences companies on the local scene, unveiled its game plan for its latest creation, GPC-Rx. The company aims … Next Page »

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