Ventures West Cashes Out Stake in OncoGenex, Developer of Prostate Cancer Drug

Xconomy Seattle — 

Who says you can’t make money investing in biotech? Vancouver, BC-based Ventures West, one of the largest venture firms in Canada, has cashed out on its booming investment in Bothell, WA-based OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OGXI).

Ventures West disclosed earlier this week in a regulatory filing that it has sold all of its shares in OncoGenex—which normally would pass with little notice except for one important fact. OncoGenex shares have generated a huge returns since Dec. 2, as it has boomed from $2.25 a share to $25.91 at yesterday’s close. The company has been riding a wave of enthusiasm for its experimental prostate cancer drug, OGX-011, which has shown an ability to help men live longer in a small clinical trial.

Ventures West didn’t disclose when it sold its shares, or at what price, so it’s impossible to say how much the firm pocketed from the public record. Ventures West managing director Ken Galbraith didn’t respond to a request for comment.

But here’s what I was able to piece together from the public record. Ventures West held 926,819 shares in OncoGenex, a 16.8 percent ownership stake, on Aug. 21, when it disclosed its holdings in a regulatory filing after the company merged with Sonus Pharmaceuticals. The company’s shares hovered in the $2 range for much of October and November. Then it burst on the scene in Dec. 3 with a preliminary analysis that said its prostate cancer drug helped men live longer in a clinical trial of 82 patients with terminal illness. That drove the stock up from $2.25 to briefly more than $8 in the next week.

Ventures West took advantage of that momentum to take some profits, selling … Next Page »

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