Targeted Genetics Dumps Lease, Amgen’s Dmab Works in Cancer Trial, Theraclone Nabs Cash, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

7/9/09Follow @xconomy

Seattle biotech is quieting down these days, so it’s a good time for your local life sciences correspondent to step away on vacation. See you back here on July 20.

EndoGastric Solutions, the medical device firm based in Redmond, WA, and Redwood City, CA, raised $7.5 million from investors. The company makes devices to combat heartburn and obesity. It was originally incubated at Scout Medical Technologies in Kirkland, WA, and has previously raised $79 million from investors including MPM Capital and Advanced Technology Ventures.

—The writing has been on the wall for months at Seattle-based Targeted Genetics (NASDAQ: TGEN), and this week the company may have pulled an important last-ditch maneuver to avoid bankruptcy, or at least hold on a while longer. By paying a $500,000 termination fee, Targeted Genetics escaped a $12 million lease obligation on a manufacturing facility in Bothell, WA, that Targeted Genetics never occupied. This could clean up the balance sheet enough, the company hopes, to entice a partner or other investor to provide capital to keep the doors open beyond August.

Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), the world’s largest biotechnology company, said its lead experimental drug, denosumab, reached all its goals in a clinical trial of more than 2,000 women with breast cancer. The Amgen drug, which is also vying for FDA approval as an osteoporosis treatment, has been studied for more than a decade as a cancer drug at Amgen’s Seattle research center, as I described in a feature in October. So this result has been a long time coming. Detailed results will be presented later at a medical meeting, Amgen said.

—I profiled Kineta, a Seattle-based biotech company formed by a team that worked together at Seattle-based Illumigen before that company was sold to Lexington, MA-based Cubist Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CBST) in October 2007. Team members don’t want to create the next fully integrated biotech company, like Amgen, but instead want to zero in on one delicate spot in the drug development process they know well—early-stage clinical trials.

—Seattle-based Theraclone Sciences received some good news this week when the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative agreed to continue funding a program to develop antibodies that might have broad potential for HIV vaccines and drugs. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Qliance Medical Management, a Seattle-based company that won’t accept insurance for primary care medical services and instead relies on patients paying a monthly membership fee for such services, raised $4 million from Second Avenue Partners, New Atlantic Ventures, and Clear Fir Partners. Qliance is aiming high, attempting to help form closer connections between patients and doctors by eliminating the insurance middleman, at a time when power players in Washington, DC, are talking about potentially sweeping reforms in how healthcare gets delivered in America.

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