It was one of those cold, rainy November weeks in Seattle, and the headlines were pretty grim in local biotech.
—Targeted Genetics (NASDAQ: TGEN) will never be the same. That was the big news this week, when H. Stewart Parker, the founder, CEO, and ballast during some very rocky years, resigned from the ailing Seattle gene therapy company. She didn’t have much to say on what she’ll do next. “I am thrilled to be looking ahead with a completely blank sheet of paper!” she wrote in an email. She changed her title on LinkedIn to “Entrepreneur” so I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard from Ms. Parker.
—The most precious resource at money-losing biotech companies, a cash cushion, is getting dangerously thin. I ran the numbers on all 10 unprofitable, publicly-traded life sciences companies in Seattle, and saw a disturbing trend.
—Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) apparently still has enough cash on hand to move ahead with another cancer drug candidate behind its lead contender, sipuleucel-T (Provenge) for prostate cancer. This one is designed to be a conventional oral pill that hits a gene target Dendreon discovered in the late 1990s.
—Bob Nelsen was an eyewitness to history last week. The managing director of Arch Venture Partners, was in the crowd at Chicago’s Grant Park on election night when President-elect Barack Obama addressed the country. Not only was he there, he was in the front row, just 20 feet from Obama himself, and five feet away from civil rights activist Jesse Jackson.
—Microsoft is trying to figure out a strategy to clean up the mess that is healthcare information technology. They see a future of personalized medicine in which consumers take control over their health information. A panel of life sciences executives, pulled together by the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association, didn’t sound so sure.
—We had a little announcement of our own at Xconomy. We unveiled plans for our first event in Seattle, which will concentrate on a new breed of vaccines. The event will be held Dec. 11 at the Institute for Systems Biology, and features a panel discussion of scientists and entrepreneurs, including Steve Reed, CEO of Immune Design, Chris Elias, CEO of PATH, Denise Galloway, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Todd Patrick, the former president of ID Biomedical.