‘Tis apparently the season to cram in as much biotech news as possible before taking a holiday breather.
—Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) snapped up a total of $409 million through a stock offering. The Seattle-based biotech company sold 15 million shares in an initial piece of the financing that brought in $356 million, and secured the rest when underwriters bought another 2.25 million shares. The cash is going toward manufacturing and marketing of sipuleucel-T (Provenge), which is aiming to become the first FDA-approved treatment to stimulate the immune system against cancer.
—Who will decide how to spend all that cash at Dendreon? Some of that day-to-day oversight responsibility will fall to Hans Bishop, who Dendreon hired this week as its new chief operating officer. Bishop previously worked at Bayer Healthcare.
—Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: SGEN) had a roller coaster of a week. The Bothell, WA-based biotech company said that Roche terminated a partnership to co-develop dacetuzumab as a new antibody treatment for lymphoma. But investors didn’t have a lot of time to stew over that. Seattle Genetics followed that up a few days later with a new partnership with Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, to co-develop and commercialize its lead drug candidate, brentuximab vedotin, for Hodgkin’s disease and related lymphomas. Importantly, Seattle Genetics retains full commercial rights in the U.S. and Canada, and has found a partner with a lot of experience in blood cancers with bortezomib (Velcade).
—We’ve been asking a bunch of the Xconomists and other technology leaders in all three of our cities for their impressions on the top five innovations in their respective fields this past decade, or what they think will be the top five disruptive technologies of the coming decade. Seattle Genetics CEO Clay Siegall wrote back fast with this interesting take on the big changes he saw in biotech.
—H. Stewart Parker, one of the pioneers of Seattle biotech, told me how she recharged her batteries during a year off after her departure from Targeted Genetics, the company she founded and led for 17 years. She’s now “antsy” to get back into biotech, she says, either as a CEO, a member of a few boards, or in venture capital.
—ZymoGenetics (NASDAQ: ZGEN) had some minor ups and downs this week with its lone marketed product, recombinant thrombin (Recothrom) for surgical bleeding. The drug has been cleared for sale in the U.S. for almost two years, but Zymo’s partner, Germany-based Bayer, said this week that it withdrew an application to market the drug in Europe after regulators there said the company would need to run another clinical trial. Canadian regulators saw the data differently, giving the drug the green light for marketing there, and ZymoGenetics pocketed a $3.5 million payment from Bayer for hitting that milestone.
—Pathway Medical Technologies, the Kirkland, WA-based maker of a device that drills out blockages in leg arteries, said this week it won clearance to start selling the tool in the European Union.
—Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD) finally got some good news for its cystic fibrosis drug in the U.S. FDA staff have stalled the company’s application to market aztreonam lysine, an inhalable antibiotic, but an advisory panel to the agency voted in favor of the product. Gilead, while based in Foster City, CA, maintains a sizable lung disease research operation in Seattle that it obtained through the acquisition of Corus Pharma in 2006.
—Oncothyreon got another good break this week. The Seattle-based biotech company (NASDAQ: ONTY) said its partner, Germany-based Merck KGaA, started another pivotal clinical trial of Stimuvax for patients in Asia with lung cancer. Investors had given up on this program a year ago, but that was before Oncothyreon shifted most of the development costs to its partner and retained a royalty share of the drug’s sales, and Merck KGaA showed a lot of faith in the program by starting a pair of new pivotal clinical trials.