Cell Therapeutics Ships App to FDA, Targeted Genetics Cuts Again, Sanofi CEO Looks to Biotech & More Seattle Area Life Sciences News

6/25/09Follow @xconomy

We had a smorgasbord of life sciences news this week, featuring updates on Northwest companies developing drugs, devices, vaccines, and scientific instruments.

Cell Therapeutics has bet the company on pixantrone for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and this week it hit one of its key goals for the year, by turning in its new drug application to the FDA before the end of June. The Seattle company (NASDAQ: CTIC) fell short in its bid to unload all of its $118.9 million in debt, instead getting rid of about $52.9 million of its liabilities.

—Seattle-based Targeted Genetics (NASDAQ: TGEN) has been in survival mode for some time now, and this week it said it will cut its staff down to as little as 10 to 15 employees. The company hopes the cuts will stretch its cash reserves into August, giving it enough time to close a deal to keep the company from closing its doors.

—Sanofi-Aventis CEO Chris Viehbacher traveled to Seattle last week for a global health meeting, and took time to offer a glimpse into his strategy to make the Paris-based drugmaker a bigger player in global health. He also shared his perspective on partnerships with biotech companies.

—Seattle-based Amnis shared its story of how it has rolled out a second-generation version of its sophisticated lab instrument, which combines properties of a microscope with a high-speed cell counter called a flow cytometer. Orders are building up, and this could be the company’s first full year of profitability after a decade in business, says CEO David Basiji.

Oncothyreon (NASDAQ: ONTY), the Seattle-based developer of cancer drugs, said that its German partner, Merck KGaA, started up a pivotal trial of its immune-boosting therapy, Stimuvax. It’s the second big trial of this drug, which is already being tested against lung cancer. If it’s successful, Oncothyreon will stand to get royalties on product sales.

AVI Biopharma (NASDAQ: AVII), the Portland, OR-based developer of RNA-based therapies, said it is working on a contract to develop swine flu drugs.

—Bothell, WA-based Mirabilis Medica told its story about how it is developing the first use of high-intensity therapeutic ultrasound waves to treat uterine fibroids, as a non-invasive alternative to surgery.

MDRNA (NASDAQ: MRNA), the Bothell, WA-based developer of RNA interference drugs, gained full rights to a technology license from Denmark-based RiboTask to make its treatments more stable, and less likely to spark inflammation.

—Global health funding has quadrupled over the past two decades, and while a lot of this new money comes from foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the biggest financier of this work is now the U.S. taxpayer, according to this intriguing new study from the University of Washington.

Anthony Fauci, the head of the division of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called for a transformative research agenda to fight tuberculosis, like the country did for HIV in the 1980s, during a stop last week at the Pacific Health Summit in Seattle.

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