The big boys of Seattle biotech made some news this week, but the town was humming with activity from little companies you haven’t heard of, who appeared at Life Science Innovation Northwest. More on that later.
—Seattle-based Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) confirmed this week that it has signed leases on a new headquarters at the Russell Investments Center downtown, and a new home for its R&D at the Earl Davie Building, formerly occupied by ZymoGenetics. Dendreon also released its annual report, which showed it has grown from 198 employees two years ago to 1,497 companywide at last count, as of February 15. At that kind of rate, it makes you wonder how long it will be before Dendreon looks to expand again.
—Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: SGEN), the other emerging public company on the local biotech scene, said this week it had reached an important milestone by filing its new drug application with the FDA. This is a big deal for Seattle Genetics, because if the FDA clears brentuximab vedotin (SGN-35) for sale as a new treatment for Hodgkin’s disease and anaplastic large cell lymphoma—which most analysts expect it will—then the company will have its first product that it can actually sell on the U.S. market.
—Bothell, WA-based Alder Biopharmaceuticals made its name with an antibody designed to fight cancer and autoimmune disease—pretty familiar territory in the biotech business. But this week Alder stepped out and did something that’s pretty offbeat for an antibody drug maker. Alder talked publicly for the first time, in an exclusive interview with Xconomy, about how it has created two new antibody drugs to treat migraine headaches and high cholesterol—diseases that have always been the realm of small-molecule treatments.
—Venture capital investment levels are still basically in the toilet, compared to where they were pre-downturn, but angel investment continues to reach record levels, according to a recent report from the Seattle-based Alliance of Angels. I talked about some of the basics of angel investment and the impact it can have on our region during a 5-minute segment this week on “The Conversation” with Ross Reynolds of KUOW-94.9 FM.
—Physio-Control, the Redmond, WA-based unit of Medtronic that makes heart defibrillators, said this week it bought a Swedish company called Jolife, which is developing a mechanical device for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Terms weren’t disclosed.
—My new national column on national biotech issues, BioBeat, debuted this week. This feature started off by taking aim at Big Pharma companies who are preying on the financial weakness of biotech companies.
—Last, we had a guest editorial from Tobin Arthur, the founder and CEO of Seattle-based iMedExchange, a social network for physicians. Based on insights picked up at a recent conference, Arthur says health records are going to the cloud, going mobile, and the feds are still paying.