Allozyne’s Backdoor IPO, Sound Pharma Fights iPod Deafness, Mirina Vs. Marina Ends, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

6/23/11Follow @xconomy

Seattle biotech hasn’t had an IPO in a long time, but this week one biotech startup found a way to get onto the NASDAQ without doing the usual road show to entice investors.

—One of Seattle’s top private biotech companies, Allozyne, essentially agreed to acquire a shell of a public company, San Francisco-based Poniard Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PARD) through a reverse merger. The new combined publicly traded company will be headquartered in Seattle, led by CEO Meenu Chhabra, and will focus its energy on developing Allozyne’s products. But instead of hitting up venture capitalists for money to drive R&D forward, Chhabra and the Allozyne team will now be seeking support from a whole different class of investors in the public markets.

—The trademark lawsuit between two Seattle-based biotech companies is over. Seattle-based Mirina, an Accelerator startup, dropped its lawsuit against Bothell, WA-based Marina Biotech (NASDAQ: MRNA) after a judge refused to grant a preliminary injunction forcing Marina to change its name. So to avoid any further confusion between the two companies, Mirina changed its name to Groove Biopharma.

—Know anybody out there suffering from iPod deafness? There’s a rising tide of young people who are losing their hearing from listening to excessive loud music on their mp3 players, and Seattle-based Sound Pharmaceuticals is now aiming a new drug at this large potential patient population.

—Seattle-based VentriPoint Diagnostics raised about $1.2 million out of a financing round that could be worth as much as $3 million, according to a regulatory filing. The company is seeking to use ultrasound and MRI tools to create 3-D images of the heart for diagnostic purposes.

Alder Biopharmaceuticals, the Bothell, WA-based developer of antibody drugs, said this week it secured a $15 million milestone payment from partner Bristol-Myers Squibb for starting up a mid-stage clinical trial of a new version of ALD518 that can be injected just under the skin. The drug is aiming high in this study, being compared directly against one of the blockbuster treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, adalimumab (Humira), made by Abbott Laboratories.

—This week’s BioBeat column talked about Pfizer’s new idea for kick-starting the pharma industry’s early-stage drug development pipeline through new collaborations with academic researchers. My own take is that this effort is mostly likely doomed to fail, but it’s clever, and just might work. Interestingly, Seattle’s research centers are nowhere to be found in this plan, which hinges on Pfizer deals with centers in San Francisco, New York, and Boston.

—Lastly, we had a blurb from the personnel department. Eric Dobmeier, the architect of the litany of partnerships at Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: SGEN), was promoted from chief business officer to chief operating officer.

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