Seattle Genetics Grows Up Fast, Valocor Seeks to Fight Acne, Cell Therapeutics Nabs $21M & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

5/27/10Follow @xconomy

This week we had a few of the usual small deals to cover, but there were a few moments to take a deep breath and look at the big-picture trends underway in the Northwest biotech community.

Seattle Genetics is practically invisible compared to the drama queen across Lake Washington, otherwise known as Dendreon. But while few may have noticed, Bothell, WA-based Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: [[ticker:SGEN]) is working methodically to make sure it is ready to commercialize its own potentially groundbreaking cancer drug.

—Once in a while, I dig into a tale from the nearby Vancouver, BC, biotech cluster, and this week’s story was about Valocor Therapeutics. This startup, a spinoff from QLT, is developing a light-activated, locally-delivered acne medication that it hopes will be safer than a widely used medication that has been linked to birth defects.

—If you run a nonprofit with a mission to provide an amorphous benefit to society, like improving science education, how do you justify your existence in a data-driven world? The Northwest Association for Biomedical Research, as part of the 10th anniversary of its Student BioExpo, tracked down some of the living, breathing people it inspired in its early years who are now pursuing careers in science.

—Who Needs VCs? Apparently Steven Quay, the former CEO of Sonus Pharmaceuticals and Nastech Pharmaceutical, doesn’t think he does. He’s started a new company, Atossa Genetics, that is seeking to pull off a $15 million IPO to commercialize a new tool for breast cancer screening.

—In good times and in bad, Seattle-based Cell Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CTIC) never fails to raise more cash from investors. This time, the company raised $21 million from three institutional investors a little more than a month after the FDA rejected its only drug candidate with a chance of reaching the U.S. market anytime soon. This new cash will be used partly to pay off some of the debt that has been threatening to drive the company out of business.

—There’s been a lot of buzz about the federal government’s new plan to spread $1 billion worth of tax credits and grants around the biotech industry, and Stewart Lyman took some time to bust a few popular myths about the program in a guest editorial.

—The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has secured $10 million worth of federal stimulus grants to buy some more sophisticated equipment and establish a high-powered computing center on its Seattle campus.

GenoLogics, the Victoria, BC-based maker of life sciences software, raised $1 million in equity out of a round that could be worth as much as $1.5 million.

—Bellevue, WA-based RF Surgical, a medical device maker, raised $2.5 million out of a total financing round worth as much as $5 million, according to a regulatory filing.

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