Five More Life Sciences Companies To Watch: Invest Northwest Notebook, Part 2

There were lots of intriguing ideas circulating at this year’s Invest Northwest conference in Seattle; so many, in fact, that I couldn’t jam them all into one story. Yesterday, I offered an update on the progress of five intriguing Seattle-area companies in the business of making new drugs, vaccines, or medical devices—Alder Biopharmaceuticals, Immune Design, Allozyne, Calypso Medical Technologies, and Liposonix.

Today, we have updates on five more local players to watch, who stack up well with competitors that I cover in the bigger biotech hubs of Boston and San Diego:

—Seattle-based ZymoGenetics (NASDAQ: ZGEN) made national news in the biotech industry back in January, when it signed a partnership potentially worth $1.1 billion to co-develop pegylated interferon lambda with Bristol-Myers Squibb. The big idea is that this drug could have the anti-viral killing punch of standard interferons, without the flu-like side effects that plague those drugs, which are one of the backbone therapies for hepatitis C.

What few people have picked up on is this new engineered interferon may have uses in diseases other than hepatitis C. These could include hepatitis B and multiple sclerosis, although timing for advancing those programs will be up to Bristol, says spokeswoman Susan Specht. The deal with Bristol actually includes $287 million worth of potential milestones (as part of the $1.1 billion total) that could flow to Zymo if researchers make progress with these other diseases.

—Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: SGEN) has generated its share of attention in the last few months, after it reported impressive data at the American Society of Hematology in December from a trial of its SGN-35 drug against Hodgkin’s disease and related lymphomas. The next important piece of evidence will be from a trial that examines weekly dosing of this drug, which will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in late May and early June, said chief financial officer Todd Simpson. The drug has shown its strong effect when it has been given every three weeks.

—Seattle-based VLST is counting its blessings after having signed a partnership with Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk in December to help fill up that company’s pipeline of drug candidates. But VLST didn’t give away everything to its new sugar daddy. Its lead internal drug candidate, VLST-007, is supposed to hit a target … Next Page »

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