ZymoGenetics Reaches the End, Stratos Genomics Nabs $4M, Children’s New Ventilator, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

One huge story hit Seattle biotech this week. I got all the usual “who, what, when, where” in the initial reports. But I’m still thinking hard about the nuances of why this happened, and what will come next. Stay tuned.

—The big news, of course, came when Bristol-Myers Squibb said it has agreed to acquire Seattle-based ZymoGenetics (NASDAQ: ZGEN) for $885 million, or $9.75 a share. This represents the end of the road for Seattle’s oldest independent biotech company, one that once dreamed big about being the anchor of the Northwest life sciences cluster. The initial word from a ZymoGenetics spokeswoman was that a lot of people would likely lose their jobs in the transaction, although ZymoGenetics CEO Doug Williams later insisted that “no decisions have been made” about local job cuts, and that he will personally advocate that Bristol retain many of the talented people in the Zymo workforce over the next couple months. But the financial offer is likely too good for shareholders to turn down (an 84 percent premium over the prior’s days closing stock price), so this deal looks like a slam dunk. We will be watching closely what really happens to Zymo’s 320 employees, and the local biotech community, in the aftermath of this deal.

Stratos Genomics, a stealthy Seattle company looking to enter the competitive field of low-cost gene sequencing, said this week it has closed a $4 million Series A venture round.

Swedish Medical Center said this week it has named Dr. Mark Reisman, the well-known interventional cardiologist, to be its new chief scientific officer and head of research. This is part of an amped-up research effort at the Seattle hospital, in which it will also focus on “adopting new and emerging therapies as well as acquiring the latest technologies, faster.”

Insilicos, the Seattle developer of biomedical software and diagnostics, said it has received a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to predict heart attack risk in patients with cardiovascular disease. The study will examine 400 patients at the University of Washington.

Emerald BioStructures, the Bainbridge Island, WA-based contract research firm, said it has formed a new collaboration with Boulder, CO-based SomaLogic to determine precise crystal structures of protein targets on cells. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

—This feature ran more than a week ago, but I was out on vacation then, and thought I’d include it today for readers who might have missed it. It’s the story of Seattle Children’s CEO Tom Hansen, and how he has led a team at Children’s that has developed what could be a simpler, more effective, and far cheaper ventilator to keep premature infants alive in the developing world.

—We showcased a couple new guest writers in the op-ed section of Xconomy Seattle this week. Shawn Iadonato, the chief scientific officer of Seattle-based Kineta, offered up his opinion that the federal government ought to start supporting early-stage drug development, not just academic research. And Jodie Spitze, a science teacher at Kent-Meridian High School, made a case for why high school educators need to get serious about bioinformatics if they want to prepare young people for a promising field of study in the future.

—Lastly, sharp-eyed followers of the Xconomy Seattle event calendar and my Twitter followers may have noticed I quietly added a new kind of event here which we are calling “Xconomy Meetup.” This is a free and open conversation with readers at a local watering hole, featuring one special guest each time we do this (probably once a month). The first guest is Carl Weissman, the OVP managing director and Accelerator CEO. You can bet the subject of ZymoGenetics will come up early and often. So come on over to the Streamline Tavern in Lower Queen Anne sometime from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm on Monday and chat with me and Carl and other readers who want to join the conversation.

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