Amgen Shows Pipeline, Dendreon Revs Up Second Drug, Asemblon Raises $2.9M, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

4/23/09Follow @xconomy

Cancer research is one of the strengths of the Seattle biotech cluster, and a few companies showed off some of their progress at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Denver. No earth was shattered, because most of this involves early-stage clinical trials and animal experiments, but it’s usually a good indicator of what’s coming years from now.

—Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), the world’s largest biotech company (which has facilities in Bothell, WA), has made a big strategic move over the past decade to get into the business of directly fighting tumors, not just treating the side effects of cancer chemotherapy. The company offered an interesting glimpse of what that R&D has yielded on the eve of the AACR meeting, and described which drugs ought to start bearing fruit in the next year or two.

—The folks at Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) apparently don’t know when to take a breather. A week after the company said its pivotal trial of Provenge helped men live longer with prostate cancer, the company said it has fired up a clinical trial of its second drug in the pipeline, D3263. This is a careful way of diversifying its pipeline beyond the immune-stimulating technology at the heart of Provenge, into a more conventional small-molecule pill approach. The company also showed some data at the AACR conference about how Provenge produces a long-lasting immune response in prostate cancer patients.

—Rogers Weed, the new director of the state’s Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development, is already being given a big new assignment by Gov. Chris Gregoire and the legislature. He’s being asked to come up with a new strategy to stir the pot for innovation in the technology and life sciences industries. The former Microsoft executive discussed his thoughts on innovation earlier in the week in this interview.

—Microsoft said this week that the Mayo Clinic, the highly-regarded hospital in Rochester, MN, has developed an electronic medical record system based on the Redmond, WA company’s HealthVault program. Microsoft has high hopes that the program will gain momentum this year, as President Obama has raised the ante for electronic medical records as part of the economic stimulus, as I explained in this feature last month.

—Sometimes a platform technology for biotech has greater appeal when it crosses over into a new field like IT or cleantech. That was the case with Redmond, WA-based Asemblon, which took nanotech that was originally thought to be useful for making catheters that would resist infections, and turned it into a way to store and release hydrogen as a practical alternative fuel. Asemblon raised $2.9 million in venture capital for the new application this week, as we reported in this Xconomy exclusive.

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  • Ralph Henderson

    I’m gratified that a company like Dendreon is finally being recognized.They work hard and smart in R and D.Their team is persistent and I feel sure that it will be of great benefit for many.I,myself,would benefit if not all cancer was removed after my procedure.I wish the company well.