Dendreon’s Blow-Up, Epigenomics Leaves Town, Presage Adds $1.5M, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

8/11/11Follow @xconomy

Just when I thought things were going to quiet down in August, and I’d catch up on planning for the fall, all hell broke loose on the Seattle biotech beat.

—Seattle-based Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN), the region’s most valuable biotech company of the past couple years, started last week worth more than $5 billion, and ended up yesterday worth about $1.5 billion. Some of this is because there’s panic selling in the overall market, but mostly, investors ran for the exits after Dendreon said it is falling short of its sales forecast of $350 million to $400 million this year because it has had trouble convincing doctors that they can get Medicare reimbursement in a consistent and timely manner. Dendreon said it is now planning to make layoffs to conserve its cash. Shareholder activist Brad Loncar posted an open letter to chairman Richard Brewer about what he would like to see happen. I followed up the whole Dendreon blow-up with a BioBeat column that essentially says the company has no one to blame but itself.

—The other prostate cancer drug developer in town, Bothell, WA-based OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OGXI) also got taken to the woodshed by investors after it disclosed that it has run into delays enrolling patients into a pivotal clinical trial. OncoGenex has bounced back some in the several days since this disclosure.

—One other bad news item crossed the desk this week. Epigenomics, the Germany-based diagnostics company with its U.S. headquarters in Seattle, said it is cutting almost half of its workforce, and moving its U.S. headquarters to the East Coast, as it prepares to introduce a new colorectal cancer test next year.

—Not everything on the site this week was so bad. Seattle-based Presage Biosciences said in a regulatory filing that it has raised $1.6 million out of an equity financing that could be worth as much as $10.5 million over time. Presage, a spinoff from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has some cool technology for helping separate the winners from the losers in the early stages of drug development. It has previously raised at least $4 million.

Cooley, the national law firm, added a trio of high-powered patent attorneys this week to its Seattle office when it added three partners who came over from Seed IP. They are Bill Christiansen, Emily Wagner, and Carol Laherty.

Don Rule, the founder of Seattle-based Translational Software, offered up an interesting guest post on “How Seattle Set Out to Create a Biotech Hub, and Fostered a Global Health Nexus.” Just as a reminder, Xconomy readers with insights into our local innovation community are welcome to offer up posts like this when you have something you want to get off your chest. I like these posts to have a conversational writing style, a clear opinion that isn’t complete conventional wisdom, relevance to our innovation community audience, and for them to run 800 words or less. As our more regular guest editorialists know, I will help with copy editing and can help craft a headline that will make your post irresistibly clicky.

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