Cell Therapeutics’ Friday Bonuses, Dendreon’s IT Partner, Lee Hood’s Eye on South Lake Union, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

3/11/10Follow @xconomy

We had a little bit of everything on the Seattle biotech beat this week: muckraking, exclusive breaking news, in-depth analytical features, and a sharp guest editorial.

—Seattle-based Cell Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CTIC) has been known to disclose less-than-flattering news in SEC filings late on Fridays, when most journalists are wiped out and heading home. Sure enough, late last Friday, we were able to shine a light on how Cell Therapeutics’ board awarded its top executives with a big round of cash bonuses, while life for its shareholders hasn’t been so hot.

—Seattle-based Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) has very little margin for error in the IT system that it needs to keep shipments running smoothly for its prostate cancer drug, assuming it gets FDA approval as expected in May. One of the key players Dendreon is relying on for help is Direct Technology, a custom-software developer that has made its reputation on running a key program for California’s 9-1-1 system for 12 years with zero downtime.

—The Institute for Systems Biology, the Seattle nonprofit research center co-founded by biotech pioneer Leroy Hood, made a flurry of headlines this week. First, the Institute said it pocketed a $6 million gift from a California venture capitalist who wishes to remain anonymous. Then Hood told me that the Institute is looking for new space in South Lake Union that’s twice as big as the Institute’s current home. Lastly, the Institute talked about how sequencing entire genomes of families could become a new paradigm for research, based on intriguing findings published in this week’s issue of the journal Science.

—We also had some sad news to report. Joe Eichinger, one of the Northwest’s leading medical device entrepreneurs of the past three decades, died of pancreatic cancer at age 65. Eichinger made a powerful impact on this community, which you can see by reading some of the comments that people have left at the bottom of the story. If you knew Joe and have a memory you’d like to share, please leave a comment of your own.

—One of the companies that Eichinger co-founded, Bothell, WA-based Ekos, has marshaled some promising evidence that its ultrasound-based clot-busting device may be useful for patients with hemorrhagic strokes. I dug into how this technology could change the way many stroke patients are treated with David Newell, a neurosurgeon at Swedish Medical Center who spearheaded an initial study of nine patients here in Seattle.

Stewart Lyman exposed a few inconvenient truths about the pharmaceutical R&D model in yet another incisive guest editorial. I’m waiting for an industry chieftain to write in and say Lyman has it all wrong and that the R&D model is running just dandy as is. Don’t worry, I’m not holding my breath.

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