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Thursday, July 12, 2007


Oh what a tangled web we weave...
Annonymous qoute from an annomymous boss at my annonymouse biotech job.

"We can't use that control because it might not work out how we want it to. If it casts a shadow over our drug candidate we're screwed."

Ah the joy of science.

And now for a countdown of some of the consequences for leaving out proper controls.

Point Therapeutics (POTP) Cuts 76% of Work Force. Recent interim clinical results led the Company's Independent Monitoring Committee to recommend stopping the Company's two Phase 3 talabostat studies as a potential treatment for patients in advanced non-small cell lung cancer, and the talabostat clinical development program was subsequently put on clinical hold by the FDA.

ImClone Systems Incorporated (IMCL) Says Erbitux Fails in Lung Cancer Trial More...
Endo Pharmaceuticals (ENDP) Says Patch Fails 2 Late-Stage Trials; Shares Fall More...
Antisoma PLC (ASM.L) and Novartis Corporation (NVS) Drug Fails in Ovarian Cancer More...
Amgen (AMGN) (Jobs) and Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. Reach Deal on Bone Antibody More...

I threw in the Amgen story because I used to work with RANK ligand and one of the lead scientists at Amgen on the RANK ligand project. Amgen sent this scientist packing back in 2001. They didn't believe in the drug. This would never stop them from making a deal however. Good people.

Controls in the early stages of research would only put us out of work faster. Sorry cancer patients but we're going to keep trying to make these old drugs work. We don't have the time nor money to find new ones. Keep your fingers crossed. We do the same things when working without proper controls.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Cargo Cult Promotions

I mentioned the unusual deal between Zymogenetics and Bayer.

ZymoGenetics Establishes Global Collaboration With Bayer HealthCare for Development and Commercialization of Recombinant Human Thrombin6/19/2007
ZymoGenetics to receive up to $198 million plus royalties, including up to $70 million in 2007
Bayer HealthCare acquires product rights in all markets outside the U.S..

Not a very good deal considering Zymogenetics reported net losses of 130 million in 2006, 78 million in 2005 and 88 million in 2004. I mentioned a possible Cargo Cult connection of creating the illusion of a company on the move. The executives thus position themselves for rewards.

SEATTLE, July 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- ZymoGenetics, Inc. today announced that Douglas E. Williams, Ph.D. has been named President of the company. Bruce L.A. Carter, Ph.D. will continue as ZymoGenetics' Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board. James A. Johnson has been promoted to Executive Vice President and will remain Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. Darren R. Hamby has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Human Resources. All three promotions were made effective July 1, 2007.

Promoted into jobs that didn't exist yesterday? Pay increases? When will Zymogenetics turn a profit? Now that senior management is now more... um... successful, perhaps the company will follow in their footsteps.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


I took some time off after starting my latest job in the biotech industry. A lot has gone on. Dendreon received a favorable evaluation from an advisory panel evaluating their Provenge drug. The stock from 7 bucks a share to over 20. Then the FDA asked decided more trials were in order sending the stock back down to 7 bucks again. Later a grass roots effort was put in motion where investors and prostate cancer advocacy groups started lobbying to get the FDA to change their minds. Hmm. Cramer (Mad Money) has stopped touting Nastech now that the stock has been sinking slowly but surely for the past month. Luckily Cramer picks stocks left and right and never has to discuss the ones that tank. He reminds the one of John Edwards amazing ability to speak with dead people. I'm seeing a hot company. Nazzzzzz... a nasal spray company... anyone??? Zymogenetics signed a deal with Bayer to market their Thrombin drug which will be competing with the already approved Thrombin drug from King Pharmaceutical. The deal was amazingly underwhelming financially leading one to wonder if the executive staff has a clause in their contracts to bring a drug to market or else. In general, nothing scientifically interesting has happened, just the same old tricks.

The real excitement for the Cargo Cult Scientist is to be around industry insiders who have their own stories to tell. Forging data, hoodwinking investors, and all of the usual subjects are alive and well. In the future I will try to get a few good stories. We have the GE Healthcare sales staff who point out the lack of activity coming from Amgen. We have the ex-Icos employees struggling to find new work. We have the re-structuring of R&D at a couple companies. We have plenty to work out.