Dendreon Proceeds With Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials, AXI Gets Oil from Algae, PATH Prepares to Launch “Ultra Rice,” & More Deals News

It may be the dog days of August—a sweltering, 90-degree weekend in the Northwest?— but there was still a trickle of action last week in biotech, biofuels, and software. We’ll see if the deals start to pick up this week, with the rain and cooler temperatures.

—Accelerator, the Seattle-based biotech incubator, has formed a new startup called Mirina. The exact investment amount has not been announced, but it’s in the range of $1.6 million to $5 million. Mirina will develop drugs to block microRNAs, molecules that could control gene networks. Possible targets include cancer, infectious diseases, and metabolic disorders.

—AXI, a Seattle-area biofuels startup, announced its launch with seed funding from Allied Minds, a Massachusetts-based investment firm focused on early-stage technologies from academic labs. AXI was spawned from research on oil-producing algae in the lab of University of Washington biologist Rose Ann Cattolico.

—1Cast, an online news and information delivery service based in Kirkland, WA, raised its first round of funding, led by Eagle River Holdings. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but 1Cast is expected to launch a beta version of its Web service this year.

—Bellevue, WA-based Ignition Partners and Trilogy Equity Partners have co-invested in an $8.5 million Series B round for Connecticut-based InstallFree, which makes virtualization software for large corporate and government customers. Richard Fade, a partner at Ignition, says virtualization could “fundamentally remake the fabric of computing and software.”

—PATH, the Seattle nonprofit backed by the Gates Foundation, is set to expand its distribution of Vitamin-A fortified “Ultra Rice” to combat malnutrition in Brazil, Colombia, China, and India. The Ultra Rice technology originated with James and Duffy Cox, father-and-son inventors at Bellingham, WA-based Bon Dente International.

—Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) has moved forward with a couple of small clinical trials of Provenge, an immunotherapy treatment for prostate cancer. The Seattle biotech company has begun enrolling patients in its NeoACT trial, which will involve 40 patients at University of California, San Francisco, with localized prostate cancer. Another clinical trial of Provenge, called ProACT, is expected to begin later this month; the multi-center trial involves 120 patients with metastatic prostate cancer.

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