Dendreon’s European Plan, Williams Heads East, Allozyne Passes Clinical Trial, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

1/13/11Follow @xconomy

Biotech leaders from around the country gathered this week at San Francisco’s Union Square, and it sure seemed like folks had a little more spring in their step than they did a year ago at this same get-together. We’ll just have to see whether the hope translates into good actions in the year ahead.

—Seattle-based Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) made headlines before things got too noisy at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, by describing its strategy to take its prostate cancer drug into the European Union. Dendreon has talked in the past about finding a partner to help with this expensive and risky proposition, but now it says it is ready to go it alone on seeking regulatory approval there.

—Seattle-based Allozyne made some news of its own the first morning of the JP Morgan conference, when CEO Meenu Chhabra described how her company’s long-lasting multiple sclerosis drug passed its first clinical trial. Chhabra, in an exclusive interview with Xconomy, talked about how she envisions challenging Biogen Idec in this field, where Biogen is the worldwide market leader.

—For those who’ve never been a part of the annual frenzy known as the JP Morgan conference, I did a feature story on how this thing has evolved over the years. Steve Gillis, as usual, found a way to poke fun at himself when I asked him about what this thing was like back in the ’80s and ’90s.

—The Institute for Systems Biology had a hand in one of the biggest national life sciences stories of the week, even if not many people really paid attention at first glance. Mountain View, CA-based Complete Genomics (NASDAQ: GNOM) said it has struck a deal to sequence a staggering 615 complete human genomes for the ISB, which wants all that data to study neurodegenerative diseases.

—One of Seattle’s most respected biotech executives is leaving town for a big new job. Former ZymoGenetics CEO Doug Williams has agreed to become the new head of R&D at Weston, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB). I talked about Williams’ track record, and how it matches up with the current situation at Biogen, in this feature story.

—Bainbridge Island, WA-based Emerald BioStructures said it has formed an expanded alliance with Belgium-based UCB.

—Plenty of people love to grumble about Washington state’s government, but a couple global health organizations are pretty happy with Olympia this week. SIGN, a Richland, WA-based nonprofit, and CircMedTech, an Israeli company opening an office in Seattle, each got $150,000 grants from the state under a new program to support the Northwest’s global health competitiveness.

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