ASCO Wrap-Up, Pathway Medical Grinds It Out, Gates Foundation’s New Digs, & More in Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

Xconomy Seattle — 

This week we had news from a couple of Seattle-area life sciences companies who appeared at a big cancer drug conference, a notable financing story, and a couple of in-depth profiles.

—Kirkland, WA-based Pathway Medical Technologies, the maker of a tiny drill that clears out blockages in leg arteries, provided me with a detailed update on how it is doing three years after winning FDA approval. Pathway grew its sales more than 50 percent last year without increasing the size of its salesforce, although the company still hasn’t yet turned the corner to become profitable.

—The American Society of Clinical Oncology, the big annual extravaganza for cancer R&D, came to a close earlier this week in Chicago. The local biotech standard-bearers—Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) and Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: SGEN) both presented important new findings for their cancer drugs, which I included in this national wrap up story.

—Seattle-based Adaptive TCR, a spinoff from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said it has raised $5.8 million in a new financing round from wealthy individuals. CEO Chad Robins says the goal is to use the money to develop clinical applications around its technology for profiling the immune repertoires of individual patients.

—Is it a nutty idea for biotech drug developers to think they can grow up to become fully integrated, independent, profitable enterprises without selling out to Big Pharma? A couple of years ago, most people would have said yes, but this week in the BioBeat column, I put forward the notion that maybe there is still a way to do this.

—The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been soaking up lots of attention lately for a series of grand openings of its new $500 million headquarters near Seattle Center. I snapped a bunch of photos when I attended an evening reception with lots of local media and politicians.

—I took time to profile Chris Garabedian, the ambitious new CEO at Bothell, WA-based AVI Biopharma (NASDAQ: AVII). AVI may not have a high profile locally or nationally, but this former Gilead and Celgene exec has big plans to make AVI into a much bigger company built on its novel treatment in development for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

PATH, the Seattle-based global health nonprofit, said it has formed a collaboration with Netherlands-based Crucell and London-based GlaxoSmithKline to see if it can combine a couple of malaria vaccine candidates into a more effective strategy for protecting people from this deadly infectious disease. Terms weren’t disclosed.