Dendreon’s Manufacturing Challenge, Archus Cuts Deep, Accelerator Company Launches & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

5/21/09Follow @xconomy

Seattle’s biotech companies must be trying to get a lot done before Memorial Day weekend, because we had reports on deals, layoffs, and big strategic moves.

Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) has spent years trying to prove that its immune-boosting therapy for prostate cancer really works, and now it has to show it can make enough of it to meet coming demand. The company has just one commercial manufacturing facility, and it is rapidly trying to scale it up over the next 14 months so it can pump out a maximum of $500 million to $1 billion worth of Provenge each year, says CEO Mitchell Gold.

Archus Orthopedics, the Redmond, WA-based developer of spinal implants that help people remain mobile after back surgery, has laid off most of its employees and significantly scaled back operations to conserve its remaining cash.

Accelerator, the Seattle-based investment vehicle for biotech startups, bankrolled its 10th company, called Xori. The company raised $2.1 million out of a $4.5 million round, toward a goal of developing technology that will make antibody drugs much more quickly, and with better properties, than existing methods.

—Cancer drugs represent one of the most intense fields of interest in biotechnology, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that a lot of Seattle biotech companies have news coming out at this year’s meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology from May 29 to June 2. ASCO posted brief online summaries of a lot of clinical trial data to be presented, and I combed through the most interesting abstracts from companies in the Northwest.

Bionavitas, a Redmond, WA-based developer of light technology to help algae grow much more efficiently, explained its strategy in this feature story. It sees more promising markets in using algae to make food additives and for toxic cleanup—at least in the early days—than for biofuels.

—I heard about an intriguing new startup called Presage Therapeutics, a spinoff from the Fred Hutchinson … Next Page »

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