Pathway Medical Gets Traction, Ekos Raises $12.5M, ZymoGenetics Sales Boss Departs, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

2/5/09Follow @xconomy

Medical devices captured more than its usual mindshare in the Seattle life sciences scene this week, with news of a substantial venture deal and a new product that appears to be catching on in the marketplace.

—Pathway Medical Technologies, the Kirkland, WA-based developer of a high-speed drill that removes fatty buildups from leg arteries, revealed it is seeing strong demand from physicians for its device. More than 100 physicians have gotten the Jetstream system installed in its first five months on the market, says chairman Tom Clement.

—Xconomy broke the news that Ekos, the Bothell, WA-based maker of an ultrasound-based device to dissolve blood clots in the legs, raised $12.5 million in venture capital to support a commercialization drive of its device. CEO Bob Hubert hopes to cap off this round with another $2 million to $2.5 million.

—We took an in-depth look at PATH, the hard-driving nonprofit organization that aims to improve the health of poor people around the world. The Seattle-based group has pulled in $1.3 billion in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, making it the second-largest recipient of Gates grants in the world, behind the GAVI Alliance. In an extensive interview, CEO Chris Elias explained what has made PATH so successful.

—ZymoGenetics fell way short of Wall Street expectations in its first year in the marketplace with its first FDA-approved drug, recombinant thrombin for surgical bleeding. Now the man in charge of sales and marketing, Michael Dwyer, is leaving the company, according to a regulatory filing released yesterday. The company didn’t explain the circumstances of Dwyer’s departure.

—Merck snapped up Gary Gilliland, a star researcher from Harvard University, to run its merged cancer research center in Boston. He will replace Stephen Friend, the founder of Merck’s Rosetta Inpharmatics division in Seattle. Friend is leaving the company later this year to start an intriguing open-access system to allow biomedical researchers to better collaborate.

—Cardiac Dimensions, the Kirkland, WA-based maker of an implantable device for congestive heart failure, said it received approval to market its product in Europe. The company still has a ways to go in the U.S., where it hopes to introduce the Carillion Mitral Contour System in 2011 or early 2012.

—MDRNA, the Bothell, WA-based developer of RNA interference drugs, got a bit of a lifeline this week, with a $1 million milestone payment from San Diego-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals. MDRNA is running dangerously low on cash, and has cut employee wages.

—MolecularMD, a Portland, OR-based cancer diagnostics company co-founded by star researcher Brian Druker, said this week it has raised $3 million in venture capital.

—CMC Icos, a contract manufacturer of biotech drugs in Bothell, WA, said it is cutting 7.5 percent of its workforce, or 11 jobs. The company, which has put off plans to double in size, will now have about 130 employees, a spokesman says.

—AVI Biopharma, the Portland, OR-based biotech company developing a treatment for the U.S. government to fight the Ebola virus, said it raised $16.5 million by selling 14.2 million new shares of stock. Eastbourne Capital Management is one of its new investors.

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