Stem Cell Entrepreneur Quinn Dies, Dendreon Tames Shorts, PhysioSonics Monitors Brain Blood, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

7/2/09Follow @xconomy

News flow in Seattle life sciences slowed down heading into the holiday weekend, so I rolled out a couple biotech and medical device features I’ve been meaning to clear off my to-do list for a while.

Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) raised $221 million last month to expand its manufacturing and marketing efforts for its prostate cancer drug, but that wasn’t the whole story. As we reported based on an exclusive interview with chief financial officer Greg Schiffman, the Seattle-based biotech company used that deal to transform the complexion of its shareholder base, to diminish the influence of fast-money hedge funds and short-sellers, and tilt the balance toward more long-term, buy-and-hold healthcare funds.

—I profiled PhysioSonics, a stealthy ultrasound company in Bellevue, WA. This company raised $2 million recently, and formed a strategic partnership with a large, unnamed healthcare company, in addition to a deal it cut last year with Johnson & Johnson Development. The company is developing a product that offers automated, continuous monitoring of blood flow in the brain, as an alternative to the ultrasound method that captures a single data point and requires the time and labor of a trained ultrasound technician.

We had some tragic news this week about the sudden death of Stephen Quinn. He co-founded five companies in the past three years with University of Washington bioengineering professor Buddy Ratner. Quinn, 46, was recently profiled in these pages for his latest ambition, to build a company that would use stem cells to regenerate damaged heart tissue. A memorial service is scheduled for tonight in Sammamish, WA. For more information, check the comments at the end of the story.

—Seattle-based Cell Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CTIC) and Bothell, WA-based OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OGXI) said they joined the Russell 3000 index this week. The Russell indexes are widely used for index funds, and as benchmarks for actively managed funds.

—Washington state laboratories are working on 119 experimental drugs in clinical trials, according to a new report from We Work for Health, a partnership of drug companies and governments, as Eric reported. The most activity was found in cancer drug development, with 46 potential new medicines in the pipeline, according to the report. U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee and Gov. Chris Gregoire touted the findings in a press conference at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute.

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