Lee Hood & Team Moving to South Lake Union, Mirina Vs. Marina, Trubion Gets Acquired, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

8/19/10Follow @xconomy

We had some noteworthy personnel moves, a big real estate deal, and some legal battling on the biotech beat this week.

—The Institute for Systems Biology made it clear early this year it was scoping out the former Rosetta Inpharmatics building in South Lake Union as its future home, and this week the nonprofit research center made it official. Biotech pioneer Leroy Hood says he’s eager to get his whole team back under one roof, and to be within walking distance of so many other top-notch biologists in South Lake Union. He might even be able to walk to work on nice days.

—A smaller, but interesting biotech real estate move is happening over at a legendary address—1100 Olive Way. Seattle Children’s Research Institute is taking over the space once occupied by gene therapy leader Targeted Genetics, with an eye toward turning it into a hotspot for pediatric cancer research.

—Sometimes innovation stories can lead to unusual places, and this week I found an interesting story in the world of healthcare delivery. Tacoma, WA-based Sound Physicians has built a thriving business on offering services of hospital-based physicians who are focused on evidence-based medicine, and are supposed to be able to save hospitals a few percentage points on their operating margins, while enabling private practice doctors to stick in their offices and do their thing.

An interesting trademark dispute has flared up between a couple of Seattle-area biotechs that are seeking to become bigger players in the field of RNA-based therapies. Mirina, a two-year-old startup that’s incubating at the Accelerator, has brought a federal trademark infringement suit against the company that used to be called Nastech Pharmaceutical, and used to be called MDRNA, and is now calling itself Marina Biotech. This new name is bound to cause confusion in the market, Mirina argues.

SonoSite (NASDAQ: SONO), the Bothell, WA-based maker of portable ultrasound machines, said its founding chairman, Kirby Cramer, is retiring from that position he has held for 12 years. Cramer, 74, said he’s trying to practice the stuff he preaches to students at the UW Foster School of Business about how companies need to get new blood on their board after about 10 years.

—Seattle-based Trubion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: TRBN) said it agreed to be acquired by Rockville, MD-based Emergent BioSolutions for about $97 million upfront, plus milestone payments. Emergent plans to keep a drug R&D center here in the Northwest, Trubion says.

Calypso Medical Technologies, the Seattle-based maker of technology to pinpoint radiation therapy for prostate cancer patients, said it formed a European distribution deal with Siemens Healthcare.

Blue Heron Biotechnology, the Bothell, WA-based maker of customized genes that biologists can use in their labs, said it agreed to be acquired by Rockville, MD-based Origene Technologies. Terms weren’t disclosed.

—Seattle-based Allozyne, the developer of modified protein drugs, said it secured a technology license from chemical giant Sigma-Aldrich which will give it more flexibility in how it chooses to modify its protein drug candidates.

—And last, I had a piece with both Silicon Valley and Northwest connections—a profile of ZeaChem. This company, which has labs in Menlo Park, CA, and a major demonstration plant along the Columbia River in Boardman, OR, is putting its ethanol-from-wood-chips concept to the test in a big way this year in Oregon. We’ll be eager to see how that pans out.

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