Seattle Genetics Drug Fights Hodgkin’s, Frazier Sounds Off on Biotech Ventures, SBRI Pushes Malaria Vaccine, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

12/11/08Follow @xconomy

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much of the money into immunotherapy research in which scientists try to “teach” the immune system to fight cancer cells like a virus.

Calistoga Pharmceuticals, a Seattle-based biotech startup, got a small feather in its cap with an oral presentation at the American Society of Hematology, showing that it can kill cancer cells in the lab dish with a drug that blocks PI3 kinase. This is a hot target several companies are pursuing, as I described in a company profile back in October.

A new biotech company surfaced in town this week, Seattle-based Kineta. This outfit was formed by Shawn Iadonato and Charles Magness, after their previous company, Illumigen Biosciences, was acquired by Lexington, MA-based Cubist Pharmaceuticals. Kineta aims to trigger innate immunity against hepatitis C and other viral and immune diseases.

Zevalin, the slow-selling drug for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma marketed by Seattle-based Cell Therapeutics, continued to show really promising results at a medical meeting. When patients were put in complete remission, they were kept there for at least 67 months on the drug, compared with 31 months for patients in a control group. The question is whether Cell Therapeutics has enough cash to survive as a company to capitalize on this.

—Kirkland, WA-based OVP Venture Partners named Carl Weissman to the elevated post of managing director. He’s still keeping his job as CEO of Seattle-based Accelerator, the startup incubator, although this means David Schubert is taking on some added responsibility with a promotion from chief business officer to president. Schubert played a key role in securing a new investment in Accelerator last month from PPD.

—Seattle-based PATH, the nonprofit devoted to improving global health, invested $3 million in a vaccine candidate against the deadly strain of H5N1 “bird” flu. The vaccine is in development by Lentigen, a Gaithersburg, MD-based biotech company.

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