Dendreon Shows Provenge Demand, Seattle Genetics Inks Big Deal, Corey Gets Top Hutch Job, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

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The biotech world has been dying to know how Dendreon is doing with the market introduction of its groundbreaking prostate cancer drug, and this week we found out.

Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) had a big week in the news. Investors were eagerly awaiting the first quarterly report from the Seattle biotech company reflecting actual product sales from sipuleucel-T (Provenge) for prostate cancer. The second-quarter sales number fell short of Wall Street expectations, but Dendreon offered some encouraging details about the growth in prescriptions that suggests it is ramping up sales exactly according to the plan announced in late April. The company’s stock shot up 18 percent yesterday after the company’s conference call.

—On the same day when Dendreon hogged the spotlight (what else is new?) Seattle Genetics said it closed a big expansion of its alliance with Genentech to develop “empowered antibodies” against various forms of cancer. This deal brought Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: SGEN) $12 million upfront, and could provide as much as $900 million in milestone payments, plus royalties on future product sales.

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found its new leader after a yearlong search. The job went to an inside candidate, Larry Corey, the prominent virologist at the Hutch who is best known for leading the effort to develop an HIV vaccine. Corey, in a detailed follow up interview with Xconomy, said he wants to get to personally know a lot of the Hutch faculty better so he can find out what resources they need to make groundbreaking discoveries.

—One of the great hopes in the portfolio at Kirkland, WA-based OVP Venture Partners filed paperwork for an IPO. Mountain View, CA-based Complete Genomics, the company on a quest to provider ever-faster, cheaper gene sequencing, said it hopes to raise as much as $86 million in an IPO. We’ll be watching to see if the company can pull this deal off, and at what price.

—Big Pharma has stepped up to do more to help the cause of global health in recent years, but the same can’t be said for biotech entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. That’s from a short interview I did this week with Tachi Yamada, the president of global health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, after he spoke at an event with top state and federal policymakers who gathered at PATH, the nonprofit global health hothouse.

—We had some sad news to report for the Seattle biotech community as well. Lee Adams, a scientist at the Institute for Systems Biology and formerly of Theraclone Sciences, died in a mountaineering accident at Mount Rainier. I didn’t know Adams, but I shared a little anecdote from one time we met and he demonstrated the warmth and enthusiasm that he spread throughout the community.

Erik Nilsson, the president of Insilicos, offered his take on the state of the art in cloud computing, and how this is becoming an ever-greater industrial strength in the Northwest. This could have significant implications for the field of genomics and biotech, as people need to figure out how to store, analyze and retrieve the massive amounts of data coming from faster, cheaper gene sequencing machines.

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