CG Retools with Dendreon Alumni, Microsoft Explains HealthVault, Calistoga Reunites Icosians, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

Cancer drugs are one of the core strengths of Seattle’s life sciences hub, and this week we found a couple of intriguing stories about startups that haven’t been covered anywhere else in depth.

—Seattle-based CG Therapeutics is moving toward clinical trials with an immune-boosting therapy designed to knock down a protein that cloaks tumor cells from immune system attacks. We profiled the company’s efforts to retool its strategy under new CEO Denise Harrison, and a couple of directors with experience at Seattle’s best-known immunotherapy company, Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN).

—Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, the Seattle-based developer of drugs for cancer and inflammatory diseases, hired former Icos dealmaker Cliff Stocks as its chief business officer, which reunites him with a couple of former colleagues from that company, Michael Gallatin and Albert Yu. Calistoga CEO Carol Gallagher also provided a lot more detail on how this year is shaping up at the company.

—President Obama has reignited some longstanding interest in converting the U.S. healthcare system to electronic medical records, and Microsoft hopes this will provides some new momentum for its HealthVault platform. I learned more details about how this program is supposed to work from David Cerino, the general manager of Microsoft’s health solutions group.

—We’ve been dissecting the cleantech industry here at Xconomy as we prep for our event in Seattle on March 26, but here’s a cleantech story with crossover appeal to techies and biotechies. The top three clean energy sectors ranked by revenue last year were wind ($51.4 billion), biofuels ($34.8 billion), and solar ($29.6 billion.) To read more from the report by Portland, OR-based consulting firm Clean Edge, click here. (By the way, the deadline for discounted early-bird registration to the Xconomy Forum is fast approaching.)

—OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals, the Bothell, WA-based developer of cancer drugs, said yesterday it has enough cash left in the bank to run through February 2010. It released provocative clinical trial results in December for an experimental prostate cancer drug, which it hopes will generate enough interest from investors or partners to keep the company alive much longer than that.

—Seattle-based Cell Therapeutics disclosed it is eliminating 34 jobs through the sale of its lymphoma drug, Zevalin, to Spectrum Pharmaceuticals. This represents a 28 percent cut to its workforce, leaving it with 88 employees. We added this to the updated list of layoffs at Seattle-area technology and life sciences companies.

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