The Icos Alumni Guide, Trubion CEO Resigns, OVP Leads $30M Fate Deal, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

11/19/09Follow @xconomy

Three years have gone by since the region’s top biotech company was taken over by Eli Lilly, so it seemed like a good time to find out where all that talent migrated around the Northwest.

Icos was once the great hope for Seattle biotech, but now three years have passed since the Bothell, WA-based company agreed to be sold to Eli Lilly for $2.3 billion. I wanted to find out where most of that scientific and business talent went in the wake of the mass layoffs that ensued, so I found a few Icosahedrons (as I’m told some of them like to be called) to help me put together a fascinating list of 270 alumni who have moved on to new opportunities.

—Seattle-based Trubion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: TRBN) said this week that its co-founder and CEO, Peter Thompson, has resigned. He’ll be replaced on a temporary basis by Arch Venture Partners’ Steve Gillis while the company searches for a permanent replacement. I also recapped some of Trubion’s latest tribulations, to give a sense of what Thompson is leaving to his successor.

—Kirkland, WA-based OVP Venture Partners wanted a bigger piece of the original action in San Diego-based Fate Therapeutics, and now it grabbed some of that by leading a $30 million Series B venture round in the stem cell company. Carl Weissman, an OVP managing director and the CEO of Accelerator, will take a seat on Fate’s board as part of the deal.

—Seattle-based Oncothyreon (NASDAQ: ONTY) said it has decided to advance one of its experimental cancer drugs, PX-866, into mid-stage clinical trials next year. This is another sign of the company’s improving financial health, and its shift from cancer vaccines to cancer drugs, which I described in an in-depth feature earlier this year.

—Seattle-based NanoString Technologies earned a golden word of mouth endorsement this week from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, which agreed to buy a couple of NanoString’s gene-expression tools to use them for a three-year research collaboration. Broad director Eric Lander, one of the big names in biology, said NanoString has “exciting” technology.

—People who work in Seattle’s global health cluster love to tell anecdotes about how certain projects can make a difference in people’s lives, but there hasn’t been as much effort to really catalog all the projects going on here and where they extend around the world. That was the goal of the Washington Global Health Alliance, a nonprofit led by Lisa Cohen, who wrote about it in this guest editorial. You can read more about the alliance in a profile I did of Cohen and her fledgling association in January.

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