Seattle Genetics Reloads, Uptake Ups and Leaves, PhysioSonics Raises Cash, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Seattle — 

One of Seattle’s biotech stalwarts raised a lot of money this week that it will use to hire people for its inaugural commercialization drive.

Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: SGEN) pulled in $155 million this week through an underwritten stock offering of 10 million new shares. The company is preparing to seek FDA approval for its first product, brentuximab vedotin (SGN-35), for patients with certain lymphomas. The company is on a push to hire more people this year with skills in marketing and manufacturing, as CEO Clay Siegall has said.

Uptake Medical is now officially Irvine, CA-based, not Seattle-based anymore. The medical device company has moved its headquarters to Orange County, which happens to be where CEO King Nelson lives, and where he was recently able to recruit a couple new key members to join the management team. Uptake, the developer of a minimally invasive device to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, will retain a technical center in Seattle.

PhysioSonics, a University of Washington spinoff that uses ultrasound to monitor blood flow in the brain, raised a new round of financing from med device giant Medtronic and local angel investor Kirby Cramer. The company is now aiming to win FDA clearance to start marketing its tool in 12 to 15 months, CEO Brad Harlow says.

—I’m getting ready for the next big Xconomy Seattle event “Computing in the Age of the $1,000 Genome.” Only a few tickets are left for this one. I got a kick out of a Twitter follower this week from the Netherlands, Greg Tyrelle, who asked politely if Xconomy can do a “similar event in Europe, pls?” Umm, Xconomy doesn’t have a bureau in Europe. But I guess we can dare to dream, right?

Merck (NYSE: MRK), the pharmaceutical giant based in Whitehouse Station, NJ, told me all the right things about how it’s getting serious about a long-term biotech strategy. Much of this depends on assets it acquired in Lebanon, NH (GlycoFi), and from Schering-Plough (Palo Alto, CA and Kenilworth, NJ). Chief strategy officer Merv Turner and senior vice president Rich Murray didn’t mention Seattle as part of the plan, which isn’t really a surprise since the company shut down its local Rosetta Inpharmatics operation more than a year ago.

—We had two guest op-eds this week that I figure are of interest to the local biotech community. Dan Vorhaus, a New York attorney who specializes in personalized medicine issues, talked about the need for a comprehensive regulatory strategy on the federal level rather than a piecemeal state-by-state approach. And Eve Riskin, a professor of electrical engineering at the UW, made a case for why prominent women scientists in government and industry should consider coming back to campus for faculty gigs.