AVI Settles In, ZymoGenetics MS Drug Fails, Dendreon’s FDA Filing Set for Mid-November & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

10/1/09Follow @xconomy

Dendreon watchers got all hyped up in anticipation of the company’s analyst day in New York, but there really wasn’t much in the way of news. So I dug up some other stuff for your reading enjoyment.

—The biggest piece of news out of Seattle-based Dendreon‘s analyst day was that the company says it plans to file its application by mid-November to seek approval from the FDA to start selling Provenge in the U.S. Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) had already said this was coming in the fourth quarter, so this added specificity is nice, but not exactly big breaking news. But the company is still hiring quite a bit, which you can read about how much here in case you missed it.

Dendreon’s former CEO Christopher Henney has moved on to other endeavors, one of which involves being the chairman of AVI Biopharma (NASDAQ: AVII). So it shouldn’t have been a big surprise when this developer of RNA-based therapies recently moved headquarters from Portland, OR to Bothell, WA, under Henney’s watch. I checked out the company’s new digs in person with AVI Biopharma CEO Les Hudson, who’s enjoying his new surroundings, even while he’s trying to find out how to run the building’s HVAC system.

ZymoGenetics (NASDAQ: ZGEN) released some bad news first thing Monday morning in an SEC filing, in which it said its partner, Merck KGaA, pulled the plug on a couple of trials for an experimental drug for multiple sclerosis called atacicept. This is just the latest in a string of setbacks for this drug, which was once the shining star in the Zymo pipeline.

Charlotte Hubbert, a Kauffman Fellow at Seattle-based Accelerator, wrote a downright funny and insightful guest editorial for the Xconomist Forum on her journey from academic science to the supposed “dark side” of biotech and venture capital. I can only imagine what her parents think about the remark she made about hosiery.

Fate Therapeutics, the La Jolla, CA-based company that counts Xconomist and University of Washington stem cell scientist Randall Moon as one of its big-name co-founders, has been on a growth spurt over the past year, as I discovered on an in-depth tour of the company’s labs.

—Redmond, WA-based Spiration, the maker of a minimally invasive device for treating chronic lung diseases, raised another $7 million in debt financing to keep supporting its work to commercialize the device in Europe and complete a pivotal trial in the U.S.

Larry Corey, a scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and world leader in the quest to develop an HIV vaccine (he’s also an Xconomist), weighed in this week with an editorial about why he’s encouraged by findings of a clinical trial of a vaccine that protected about one out of every three people tested.

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