Cell Therapeutics Dangles Exec Bonuses, Oncothyreon’s Turnaround Year, VLST Layoffs, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

12/24/09Follow @xconomy

This was the last week of 2009 that anybody could realistically get deals done, and quite a few did.

—Bothell, WA-based OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OGXI) secured a partnership to develop its experimental prostate cancer treatment with Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical, the generic drug giant. OncoGenex pulled in $60 million in upfront cash, but investors objected to the deal when they learned that Carlsbad, CA-based Isis Pharmaceuticals will actually capture almost one-third of the future milestones and royalties that would otherwise go to OncoGenex.

ZymoGenetics (NASDAQ: ZGEN), the Seattle-based biotech company, said it has regained full U.S. rights to recombinant thrombin (Recothrom) after its partner, Bayer, decided to walk away from the product in al markets except Canada. This drug has been a big disappointment in the marketplace, although CEO Doug Williams says the company still expects it to supplant a rival drug from King Pharmaceuticals as the dominant product for stopping excess surgical bleeding.

—Seattle-based Cell Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CTIC) found a way to survive a near-death experience in 2009, and now the board is offering up a potentially lucrative series of management bonuses if the company can hit a few more goals over the next couple years. The executives will certainly be in a much better position to cash in if they succeed in persuading an FDA advisory panel that the company’s treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, pixantrone, should be cleared for sale in the U.S. That big day is now scheduled for February 10.

VLST, the Seattle-based company seeking to discover new targets for drugs against autoimmune diseases, has cut an undisclosed number of jobs to preserve its cash. The company is still working to fill up the pipeline of drug candidates for its partner, Novo Nordisk.

Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: SGEN), the Bothell, WA-based developer of antibody drugs for cancer, put the capstone on a big year when it clinched a licensing deal with GlaxoSmithKline that brought in $12 million in upfront cash. GSK will use the Seattle Genetics technology for linking antibodies against an undisclosed number of targets to potent toxins.

Oncothyreon (NASDAQ: ONTY) looked like a goner a year ago, … Next Page »

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