Dendreon Adds $80M, Amgen Advances ‘Son of Dmab,’ Mobisante Wins FDA OK, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Seattle — 

My favorite team, the Green Bay Packers, won the Super Bowl on Sunday. So it’s kind of amazing I was able to concentrate on work at all this week. I’m beginning to think there’s a Green & Gold glow coming out of my skin, as a matter of fact.

—Seattle-based Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) tacked on another $80 million to its convertible debt financing announced just after the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference last month. The company expects to net about $607 million under the deal, now that underwriters have exercised their options to buy extra shares to cover over-allotments.

Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) gets lots of attention for its new drug for bone loss, denosumab, but it has another lesser-known drug called AMG785 working through the pipeline that could give the company a one-two punch against bone loss. This story traces its roots to work in Seattle by antibody drug expert John Latham, who did some critical early work for Celltech R&D in Bothell, WA, which is now part of Belgium-based UCB. Latham is now the chief scientific officer of Bothell, WA-based Alder Biopharmaceuticals.

—Redmond, WA-based Mobisante had big news this week as it won FDA clearance to start marketing the first platform that puts ultrasound technology on a smartphone. CEO Sailesh Chutani plans to market this low-cost system to community and rural health clinics in the U.S. that can’t afford today’s handheld ultrasound machines, and eventually plans to lower the cost even more to take this diagnostic tool into developing countries.

NanoString Technologies, the Seattle-based maker of a digital machine for genetic analysis, said it has hired a new chief medical officer away from Redwood City, CA-based Genomic Health, one of the few success stories in molecular diagnostics. This time, Wayne Cowens says at NanoString he wants to incorporate health economic data into the clinical plan from the get-go, to make sure NanoString’s diagnostic applications can win over both skeptical doctors and payers.

—The Seattle-based Institute for Systems Biology said it has formed a three-year research collaboration with consumer products giant Procter & Gamble to study systems biology of the skin. P&G is interested in skin care, and ISB is interested in skin diseases.

—We had a great conversation Monday at a sold-out Xconomy event titled “Computing in the Age of the $1,000 Genome.” Lee Hood, Bob Nelsen, Cliff Reid, and Eric Schadt joined an all-star cast of speakers talking about the technical, and cultural, challenges ahead as genome sequencing gets ever faster and cheaper. You can check out a few photos here, and links to the members of the audience who kept a running commentary going on the event via their Twitter accounts.

Geospiza, the Seattle-based maker of genetic analysis software, said it has pulled in a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study differences in DNA between cancerous and healthy tissues. The company is sharing the grant with collaborators at Weill Cornell Medical College, and the Mayo Clinic.

—Seattle-based Oncothyreon (NASDAQ: ONTY) said it has secured a $12.5 million loan from GE Capital to help pay for its mid-stage clinical trials. The company drew an initial $5 million this week, and can take the rest later in the year.

—Redmond, WA-based Physio-Control struck an alliance with San Diego-based BeneChill to market a technology in Europe which cools down the brain in emergency cardiac arrest situations. The hope is that this system will be able to save a few minutes to help doctors ward off brain damage.

—The Life Sciences Discovery Fund announced a new round of grant recipients, who pulled in a collective $600,000. University of Washington researcher Patrick Stayton, and Christopher Bernards of Benaroya Research Institute were among the recipients.

Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: SGEN) said it raised the last installment of a financing that will bring in $178 million into the company’s coffers. Counting on that new infusion, the company now expects to close out this year with about $280 million in the bank, down slightly from the $295 million it started this year with.

—Rowan Chapman of Mohr Davidow Ventures, a former Rosetta Inpharmatics employee, talked about how she sees business models improving for new diagnostic companies in the era of faster/cheaper gene sequencing. This ran as a bit of a preview to Rowan’s appearance at the $1,000 Genome event on Monday.

—Susannah Malarkey of the Technology Alliance offered up this guest post about how “it’s fashionable to be early” if you’re a high-tech startup seeking angel financing. She drew that conclusion after the Tech Alliance’s Innovation Showcase event, which highlighted a number of small early stage life sciences companies from the Northwest.