Immune Design Pockets $32M, InDi Nails $10M, SonoSite Looks Inside My Carotids, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

This week, we saw more than the usual number of venture deals on the Seattle life sciences beat. Maybe the VCs needed to tie up some loose ends before unplugging in the month of August.

—Seattle-based Immune Design snagged the big round of the week, a full $32 million Series B deal that included ProQuest Investments, Alta Partners, Versant Ventures, and The Column Group. The company, led by Corixa co-founder Steve Reed, is following that same tried-and-true formula for company building, Reed told me in an exclusive follow up interview.

Integrated Diagnostics, the Seattle-based company co-founded by biotech pioneer Leroy Hood, secured a $10 million second installment of a Series A venture financing round first announced in October. The company hit a series of milestones on its quest to develop a test that will take a pinprick of blood and use it to predict the odds that a person will get lung cancer, or even Alzheimer’s.

HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals tacked on an additional $4 million to its Series B round, bringing the total value of that deal to $16 million. The Seattle-based company, led by CEO Ron Berenson, is developing treatments for sickle cell anemia, and a lymphoma related to infection with Epstein-Barr virus.

SonoSite (NASDAQ: SONO) is always thinking of some new way for doctors to use ultrasound as a diagnostic tool, and last week I experienced one of those uses first hand. The company is seeking to get more primary care doctors to use ultrasound scans of people’s carotid arteries, to see how much plaque is building up, which can be an indicator of future risk of heart attack or stroke. Fortunately, the company sonographer says I won’t be keeling over anytime soon.

Marina Biotech, the Bothell, WA-based company formerly known as MDRNA and Nastech Pharmaceutical, secured some intellectual property to help it deliver RNA-based therapies inside cells. Marina (NASDAQ: [[MRNAD]]) paid $5 million worth of common stock to get the RNA delivery technologies from Germany-based Novosom.

—We had a couple of sharp guest editorials from contributors outside the Northwest who nonetheless made points that are relevant to the biotech community here. Steve Speer, a biotech consultant in Carlsbad, CA, wrote a guest post about why penny-pinching isn’t necessarily the best way to get bang for the investor buck at a biotech startup. And Daniel MacArthur, a top-notch genomics blogger and researcher at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the U.K., talked about how direct-to-consumer genetics companies like 23andMe took a public flogging at a congressional hearing last week, and how this could harm the future cause of research and personalized medicine.

I know you Seattleites have opinions too, so if you’ve got something relevant to the local innovation community that you’d like to say, shoot me a note at [email protected] I’ve been known to help quite a few shy writers with some editing, and they tell me it’s not as bad as a trip to the dentist.

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