ZymoGenetics Picks Up Mojo, Dendreon Looks Southeast, Cell Therapeutics Raises Dough & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

7/23/09Follow @xconomy

This week biotech, both locally and nationally, showed some real swagger in its step. Human Genome Sciences turned into a rocket ship, Medarex made investors a fortune, and Onyx Pharmaceuticals surprised the street with positive news against breast cancer. You can bet this rising tide will lift other boats as investors prowl around for the next beaten-down biotech that might blossom.

—Seattle-based ZymoGenetics (NASDAQ: ZGEN) picked up some solid momentum this week after its longtime competitor, Rockville, MD-based Human Genome Sciences, shocked the world with a big success in a clinical trial for lupus, a common autoimmune disease. The HGS drug is made to hit a protein target called BLyS, which is the same target that ZymoGenetics and its partner Merck/Serono are pursuing. Zymo shares climbed 20 percent in the wake of its rival’s good fortune.

Dendreon isn’t saying anything officially about its plans for manufacturing enough of its prostate cancer drug, Provenge, although it’s safe to say the Seattle-based company (NASDAQ: DNDN) is going to look to the southeastern U.S. for a second factory to support its existing one in Morris Plains, NJ. This move will be made to put this logistically tricky drug closer to where most of the prostate cancer patients in America live.

Cell Therapeutics, in good times and bad, always finds a way to raise money. Yesterday, the Seattle-based biotech company (NASDAQ: CTIC), which has raised $1.3 billion in its 18-year history, said it has started an underwritten offering of 29.3 million shares, plus warrants. This ought to pull in at least $40 million—just as the company has a couple months of cash left, and needs more to stay afloat while it awaits an FDA decision on whether to approve its pixantrone drug for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

—Bothell, WA-based OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OGXI) has big plans to move into the final stage of clinical trials with its experimental prostate cancer drug, and this week it raised a little bit of money to buy some time. The company, which has octupled since February, is seizing the momentum to raise $9.5 million through a stock sale.

—Away from the prying eyes of public company investors, venture capitalists are still writing some of their very biggest checks to companies in life sciences and medical devices. The top 10 deals from Washington state in the second quarter showed Pathway Medical Technologies, NanoString Technologies, and Calistoga Pharmaceuticals at the top of the heap.

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