Obama Stimulates UW, Public Biotechs Run Low on Cash, Healionics Ships Glaucoma Product & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

3/26/09Follow @xconomy

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on an acting basis by chief financial officer Wayne Burns. The Seattle company introduced its first product, for providing digital readouts on large-scale genomic experiments, last July. Fell will stay on as non-executive chairman of the board and will “help to find a suitable replacement,” as CEO, he told me in an e-mail.

—Biotech pioneer Leroy Hood and his team at the Institute for Systems Biology produced an interesting publication this week that identifies a series of genes that became altered in mice shortly after they were infected with “Mad Cow” disease. Their findings could lead to improved diagnostic tools for early detection. Gilbert Omenn, a prominent biologist at the University of Michigan, called this paper a “landmark” and it may have implications for how to spot genes that go awry early on when people are infected with tuberculosis, HIV, or other pathogens.

—Invest Northwest, the region’s largest annual life sciences investing conference, produced so much news about the local biotech scene, I couldn’t cover it all in one day. So in case you missed it, I provided updates on five companies to watch last Thursday, and then followed up with five more the next day. They represent a wide variety of approaches to make new drugs, devices, and vaccines.

—Gilead Sciences, the world’s largest maker of HIV drugs, paid $360 million three years ago for Corus Pharma, thinking it had developed a winning drug to help it diversify—an inhalable antibiotic for cystic fibrosis called aztreonam. Now it turns out that Gilead will have to wait a while to bring aztreonam to market. The drug has been delayed by the FDA, and last week it also failed to win a recommendation from a scientific committee that advises European regulators.

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