Burrill on How Dx Will Beat Rx, VCs Rip Into Pols, Tekmira Strikes Pfizer Deal, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

3/18/10Follow @xconomy

I was happy to meet many regular readers during a two-day frenzy of networking, reporting, and writing at the Life Sciences Innovation Northwest meeting. Sleep is now moving up the priority list, so my conference wrap up will have to wait a few more hours. But until then, here’s a recap on the last week in Seattle biotech.

—Most of Seattle’s biotech companies are in the wrong business, if you believe industry maven Steve Burrill. Seattle doesn’t have much action in diagnostics, but in the future, personalized medicine and genomic diagnostics (Dx) will become more valuable than prescription pharmaceuticals (Rx), Burrill said in his opening keynote talk at the conference. If you have a break, you can click through the whole 146-slide PowerPoint deck that Burrill zipped through in a little more than 40 minutes.

—Seattle’s biotech VC godfather, Bob Nelsen of Arch Venture Partners, offered his view on some of the hypocrisy he sees among elected officials who say they are for innovation, but then push for policies that will strangle it. You can read more here to see what he means specifically about some state tax proposals in a guest editorial he wrote earlier. But I have one question for readers to consider: If you were in office, how would you balance the budget?

—I did a quick interview with Rajiv Shah, the new administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, who was in town to talk to biotechies about how he hopes to use USAID’s purchasing power to buy some of the innovations for global health that he sees emerging in Seattle and around the world.

—One biotech startup managed to pull down some significant cash, and time it for the first morning of the conference. This was Presage Biosciences, a spinoff from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which raised its first $3.1 million from angel investors. The company has developed a tool that it offers to large pharmaceutical companies, which it says should be able to boost the success rate of experimental cancer drugs from 1 in 10 to about 1 in 2. If proven over time, that’s the kind of thing pharma companies might pay for to help solve their atrocious R&D productivity problem.

—We rolled out a big announcement about another event Xconomy is organizing. This one is about innovations in healthcare information technology, way beyond what you hear about electronic medical records. It’s going to be from 2 pm to 6:30 pm on May 12 at the Frye Art Museum on Seattle’s First Hill. Swedish Medical Center CEO Rod Hochman, Sage Bionetworks founder Stephen Friend, Canary Foundation founder Don Listwin, and Microsoft HealthVault’s David Cerino are among the stellar cast of speakers we have assembled to talk about how … Next Page »

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