Omeros Moves Closer to IPO, Zymo Drug Fails Arthritis Trials, Uptake Medical Gets $3.4M, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

9/17/09Follow @xconomy

One of Seattle’s biotech companies showed it’s willing to stick its neck out to see whether the IPO window is really going to open this fall or not.

Omeros, the Seattle biotech company developing a treatment to help people recover faster from knee surgery, has been getting its ducks in a row to go public for weeks, and this week it formally tipped its hand. Omeros issued an updated prospectus that says it wants to sell 6.8 million shares at a range of $10 to $12, which could generate almost $82 million if it can sell shares at the high end of its range.

—The medical device industry is fuming over a proposal in the U.S. Senate to set up a 10-year, $40 billion tax on medical devices. I got an earful about it this week from David Auth, a local medical device industry leader. He compared this action to the government’s behavior toward General Motors, and concluded, “our government rewards dummies and punishes geniuses.”

—Seattle-based ZymoGenetics (NASDAQ: ZGEN) disclosed some disappointing news late last week, in which its atacicept drug candidate failed to work in a pair of clinical trials for rheumatoid arthritis. ZymoGenetics still has a stake in this product, although it has handed off development work to its partner, Merck KGaA.

—Seattle-based Uptake Medical provided a small bright spot in the local medical device field when it disclosed in a filing that it raised about $3.4 million out of an equity offering worth more than $13 million. Uptake is developing a way to seal off damaged parts of the lung for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, without leaving any implantable device behind that might cause complications.

—We had a little announcement of our own at Xconomy when we revealed our next event in Seattle, which will focus on the 20-year outlook for life sciences in Seattle. This event on Oct. 19 will feature a stellar lineup of speakers, including Leroy Hood, Steve Gillis, Ben Shapiro and Stephen Friend. They will be followed by executives of Seattle biotech startups with disruptive potential: Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, Immune Design, and VLST. For more information on how to register, click here.

—Autism makes a lot of headlines for its rising incidence, but it has stumped scientists for generations and nobody in pharma or biotech has ever had much to brag about in terms of new therapies. But Gordon Brandt, a former executive at Bothell, WA-based Nastech Pharmaceuticals (now MDRNA) has licensed an intriguing nasal spray compound that he thinks has potential, and he told me all about his quest to raise the capital he needs to put this idea to the test at a company he’s calling Anatrope Pharmaceuticals.

—Gov. Chris Gregoire would, of course, beg to differ with David Auth’s commentary about punishing geniuses. The Life Sciences Discovery Fund, which Gregoire pushed through the legislature in 2005, gave out another batch of state research grants worth a collective $5.1 million to researchers at the University of Washington, Washington State University, the Institute for Systems Biology, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

—Mukilteo, WA-based CombiMatrix (NASDAQ: CBMX) said this week it has secured a $1.5 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to develop automated tools that detect biological, chemical, and environmental hazards that may affect the health of soldiers.

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