Intellectual Ventures’ Med-Tech Foray, PATH Takes Ultra Rice to Africa, Mirador Gets FDA OK, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

10/21/10Follow @xconomy

We had a hodgepodge of news this week on the biotech scene, with financings, an FDA approval, and an exclusive feature on what Nathan Myhrvold’s invention shop is doing in the medical device business. Get caught up here.

Cell Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CTIC), the Seattle-based cancer drug developer, raised $21 million through the sale of preferred stock and warrants. It’s just the latest sign that one should never underestimate this company’s fundraising prowess. It can still raise money, even though after 19 years in business, and burning through $1.5 billion of investor money, it doesn’t have any cancer drugs currently on the market.

OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OGXI), the Bothell, WA-based cancer drug developer, is not exactly an Internet chat room cause celebre like Cell Therapeutics, but it raised a lot more money this week. OncoGenex pulled in $50 million to help advance its drug development programs.

PATH, the Seattle-based sparkplug for global health, said this week it has secured a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take its “Ultra Rice” technology to Africa for the first time. The fortified rice will be made available through a pilot project, in collaboration with Federal Way, WA-based World Vision, to malnourished children in the central African nation of Burundi.

Geospiza, the Seattle-based maker of software for genetic analysis, said this week it has added well-known drug developer Bruce Montgomery to its board of directors. Geospiza is hoping that Montgomery will provide advice to help it branch out from its traditional base of academic research customers, and start making bigger waves in the pharmaceutical industry.

Intellectual Ventures, the Bellevue, WA-based invention firm founded by famed polymath Nathan Myhrvold, gets most of its attention for far-out ideas it pushes for zapping mosquitoes or producing clean nuclear power. But according to a couple of new medical device dealmakers on staff, IV is actually in position to start making an impact in medical devices, with stuff like self-sanitizing touch screens that could cut down infections in hospitals.

—One cool little entrepreneurial success story in Seattle emerged this week by the name of Mirador Biomedical. The company won FDA approval for a device that will help doctors to tell the difference between when they are about to puncture an artery or a vein, which has potential to prevent quite a few life-threatening screw-ups that happen in hospitals every year. The company got to this point after less than two years of work and after raising a little more than $1 million.

Stewart Lyman chimed in this week with a delightful guest editorial which pokes holes in a lot of the doubletalk and flabby thinking that often passes as insight in the biotech industry. This is a fun piece you don’t want to miss.

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