Alder’s Long-Awaited Arthritis Data, Ikaria Plots $200M IPO, Emerald’s Resurrection, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

5/20/10Follow @xconomy

Get ready for a double-dose of your usual Seattle biotech roundup, as I was too slammed to give you the regular weekly shot of news last Thursday.

—Six months after Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) wrote a big check to Bothell, WA-based Alder Biopharmaceuticals, we can see why. Xconomy had the exclusive on how ALD518 generated “outstanding” results in a mid-stage trial of 124 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, in the words of the lead investigator. This story was based on an abstract posted online in advance of the European League Against Rheumatism conference next month in Barcelona.

—Rheumatoid arthritis may be the really big market on the horizon, but Alder didn’t give away the whole store in the Bristol deal. Alder has retained the full rights to ALD518 for cancer, and the company is getting ready to present some other important mid-stage trial data next month at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference. The idea is that ALD518 can tamp down the excess inflammation that plagues cancer patients, making them vigorous enough to withstand more chemotherapy that kills tumors, which might help them live longer.

Leroy Hood coined the term “P4 Medicine” as the tagline for his vision of predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory medicine about seven years ago. Now he has clinched the first partnership with a major U.S. medical school, Ohio State University, which is setting up a demonstration project to put this idea to the test. The deal is for two years, and calls for Ohio State and the Institute for Systems Biology to contribute $1 million each to make this work.

—One intriguing Seattle connection jumped on my radar during my last trip to San Diego, when I met with Nobel Prize-winning chemist K. Barry Sharpless of The Scripps Research Institute. Sharpless is well known as a proponent of “click chemistry,” in which scientists seek out the simplest, easiest, most reliable, irreversible reactions possible for industrial processes, rather than just trying to do what’s most cool or exotic to impress their peers. This technology is at the heart of a prototype device that Lee Hood’s Seattle-based Integrated Diagnostics is using to gather reliable measurements from a pinprick of blood.

Ikaria, the Clinton, NJ-based biotech company with an R&D operation in Seattle, is gearing up for a $200 million IPO to be underwritten by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and others. The company is profitable because of a drug that treats respiratory illness in infants, but its big swing for the fence is with technology licensed from Mark Roth’s lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center that seeks to induce a reversible hibernation-like state that could someday buy more time for doctors to treat traumatic injuries, or perform heart surgeries. Arch Venture Partners has a 10 percent stake in Ikaria, so Bob Nelsen is rooting for this to be a big win.

—While all this news was breaking, we somehow found a way to organize an event on health IT innovation at the Frye Art Museum, with support from event host Swedish Medical Center and a number of sponsors. You can catch up on what happened by checking out this photo gallery, the speakers’ slides, and Greg’s roundup of some of the pithy insights we picked up.

Seattle Biomedical Research Institute has been itching … Next Page »

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