Life Science Discovery Fund Faces Cuts, Boeing’s Biofuel Push, SeaGen’s Latest Deal, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Seattle — 

We’ve got biofuel on the brain here at Xconomy as we prep for our next big event.

Boeing and Alaska Airlines are taking the lead on a regional network that wants to turn the Northwest into a hotspot for biofuel production by growing the plants, refining the oil, transporting, and consuming it all locally to fuel airplanes. The final recommendations of the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest group is expected out in early May.

—We’re gearing up for the next big Xconomy event, “Separating Hype from Reality in Alternative Fuels,” on May 19 at the Institute for Systems Biology’s new headquarters in South Lake Union. John Gardner of Washington State University will be on hand to give a presentation and field questions about the plan, and we will also hear from a couple of leaders in the algae biofuel business—Kristina Burow, a co-founder of Sapphire Energy, and Margaret McCormick, the chief operating officer of Targeted Growth and a co-founder of Matrix Genetics.

Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: SGEN) expanded its alliance with Denmark-based Genmab to develop one more souped-up antibody against cancer. Seattle Genetics is getting an undisclosed upfront payment, and has retained an option to co-develop and co-market the new drug candidate Genmab has its eye on.

—The biotech industry is concentrated in a few hotspots on the U.S. map, but this week in the BioBeat column, I argued that it makes sense for companies to do more to connect with small towns and rural America.

—The Life Sciences Discovery Fund, the state fund designed to support biotech R&D projects with commercial potential, is once again finding itself in a tight spot, as the state wrestles with yet another daunting shortfall. Two years ago, the state cut 41 percent of the fund’s budget, and the cuts could go even deeper this time.

—I knew Stewart Lyman had really mastered the guest editorial thing when he turned in his latest piece with the following headline: “Why Do I Love Drug Regulation? Simple: It Keeps Us Safe.” Lyman, as usual, has lots of links and data to back up his argument, and it has sparked a healthy debate among readers about exactly what kind of drug regulation the country ought to have.

—Lastly, Ken Stuart of the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute urged members of the community to rally behind what he says is a great investment opportunity—investing in science education of young people.

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