Calling All Seattle Biotechies: The Icos Impact Is Coming Up Nov. 27

Xconomy Seattle — 

Ever wonder what the people inside Icos really thought about tadalafil (Cialis), way back in 1996? That was when GlaxoSmithKline bailed out of a partnership with the Bothell, WA-based biotech company, thinking this molecule was just another dud for cardiovascular disease.

Two years later, it became obvious that GlaxoSmithKline truly didn’t know what it had. That was when Pfizer showed that a similar drug which causes blood vessels to open up can be used for more than just treating angina. Pfizer’s 1998 FDA approval for sildenafil (Viagra) in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, and the overnight commercial success that followed, triggered a bidding war among pharma companies who wanted a piece of this little known market opportunity, with Icos, which had a molecule that could compete with Viagra. The deal that got done with Eli Lilly ended up transforming Icos from an R&D shop into a more integrated business.

Now that a few years have gone by, I’m looking forward to hearing some juicy inside stories about Icos, especially around the dramatic never-before-told moments when Cialis became a real asset. That will be a big part of the fun at our next Seattle biotech event,“The Icos Impact,” on Nov. 27.

This event will reunite many of the scientists and businesspeople who made Icos a biotech standout in the 1990s and early 2000s, and who have moved on to interesting new roles in the community since Icos was acquired by Eli Lilly in 2007. You can expect to hear a few war stories from Icos vets, including:

Cliff Stocks, Theraclone Sciences

Mike Gallatin, Frazier Healthcare Ventures

Pat Gray, Omeros

Gary Wilcox, Cocrystal Discovery

Stephanie Florio, Infectious Disease Research Institute

David McElligott, Accelerator

Susan Sullivan, CMC Biologics

Mila Lobanova, Blaze Bioscience

I have no idea what any of these people plan to say when they get ahold of the microphone. But I do expect some very revealing and funny anecdotes, and maybe even a little hard-earned wisdom. There will be a few more fun features incorporated into the program, which I’ll describe here on the site in coming weeks. But rest assured, the program will be brief, so everybody can spend most of the time connecting and re-connecting with old friends. I’m really looking forward to this one. See you there at the Institute for Systems Biology on Nov. 27.