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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Optimism For the Seattle Cargo Cult Airport

"I'm fairly optimistic that this year will see good things for the industry," said ZymoGenetics President Doug Williams.

"We have some great, great research institutions here," said Chris Rivera, the new president of the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association.

Next year at this time I will try and revisit this article. The CCS is not optimistic. It's not about the money. It's about things like RNAi and PhDs trying to be businessmen. It's about the product. In other words, the airplanes. Are they coming in 2009?

Is It Over Yet?

MDRNA Cuts Executive Pay, Freezes Salaries as Cash Runs Out
Luke Timmerman 1/23/09
MDRNA is running out of cash, and is drastically cutting down payroll expenses, according to a source close to the situation. The Bothell, WA-based biotech company (NASDAQ: MRNA) has asked executives to work for no pay, and has frozen employee salaries at $1,250 for the final two weeks of January, according to the source.
Matt Haines, a spokesman for MDRNA, said the company hasn’t done any layoffs, although he declined to comment on specifics about any payroll cuts. “As a public company, we cannot get into details of any cost-cutting we are taking at MDRNA,” Haines said in a voice message.
The company, formerly known as Nastech Pharmaceutical, has been trying to reinvent itself over the past year from a company that specialized in nasal delivery of existing drugs into one that develops new medicines that work via RNA interference, or silencing problematic genes. The company changed its name in June to MDRNA, removed CEO Steven Quay from the top job, and replaced him with Michael French.
The new boss has a track record in RNAi, as a former senior vice president of corporate development at Sirna Therapeutics, a San Francisco RNAi drug developer that was sold to Merck for more than $1.1 billion in October 2006. Still, he joined MDRNA when its work was at the very early stages of development and would require significant capital investment to create something of more value. MDRNA said it has 4 issued patents on RNAi technology, and has 304 pending applications. None of its RNAi work has yet advanced into clinical trials, leaving it behind leaders in the sector like Cambridge, MA-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.
MDRNA’s effort has also been plagued by its rapidly dwindling cash reserves. The company slashed 23 jobs in August, mostly among people from the nasal delivery business, leaving it with 58 employees at the end of September. But the cuts may have been too little, too late. The company had just $10.9 million in cash and investments left at the end of September, down from more than $41 million when it started the year. At the end of September, MDRNA’s last formal financial update to investors, the company said it had just enough cash to last “into the first quarter of 2009.” Since then, the company has been notified that it is in jeopardy of having its ticker symbol de-listed from the NASDAQ. The company’s stock traded today as low as 25 cents, with a market valuation of just $8 million. It hasn’t announced any new round of investment.
MDRNA in its various forms has been in business since 1983, and never developed a successful marketed product to push it consistently into the black. The company has run up an accumulated deficit of more than $241 million from its beginning through the end of September 2008, according to its most recent quarterly report. When French was hired, his starting base compensation was set at $340,000, and he was given 1.26 million company stock options, according to a regulatory filing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Is Vytorin a Failure?,8599,1703827,00.html

If one had read Gary Taubes' 'Good Calorie Bad Calorie' they would not have been surprised by the results from Vytorins ENHANCE study. To the Cargo Cult Scientist, statins represent the holy grail of our current state of medical research. Statins are the biggest money makers in the industry. And they don't save lives. Diet and exercise are the best answer but you can't sell them in a pill. One study after another proves that they are not the answer. But we must have an answer. And the FDA knows what that answer must be:

Goodbye Seattle PI

While we expect the loss of Biotech companies we do not enjoy seeing honest people lose their livelihood. We do get pleasure when people like James Bianco and Steve Quay are acknowledged as Cargo Cult leaders. They love money and they love power. Science is a bunch of words to them. The words can be used to extract money from investors. That money is used to create companies that create powerful positions.

Another group of people who live by their words are the fine journalists at the Seattle PI. They make less than 100K per year. They put out a product everyday. When they make a mistake they have to retract what they said. They also serve as a watchdog against government and corporate America. Sadly they are going to be silenced.

In terms of the Cargo Cult world, the newspapers report on the airport. Not just the promises, but the reality of what is happening out there on the runways. They look up to the skies 24 hours a day. Each day they report, " no airplanes have been spotted". Seattle will have only one newspaper. A day will come when a major US city will have no local newspaper. That will be the day when local government becomes as free as a biotech company to report it's own news.

Fires Are Burning Out

Note the ending of the first article and how it leads into the second. investment fund with major stock ownership, which in December wrote to Northstar board members: "It would seem that some of you remain content to pay yourselves salaries from cash that belongs to stockholders while contributing nothing of any positive value in return."

With Cell Therapeutics, which has few, if any, institutional shareholders left since it became a penny stock, it's unlikely there's anyone to write that kind of letter.


Analysts predict that Biotech will lose a third of its publicly traded companies. One third! They're on to us.

Monday, January 05, 2009


I missed the demise of Rosetta out here in Seattle. Merck bought this company back in 2001 for 630 million dollars.

Things were going well in 20004.

Then they discontinued the project last October.

It's a classic Cargo Cult scenario. We have a technology that will change the way drugs are discovered. Where are the drugs? Who is talking about why Rosetta failed to do what it promised? Only the Cargo Cult Scientist is wondering why computer programmers couldn't turn human speculations (medical research) into the fountain of youth. Too much BS was piled too high. So long Rosetta. I know you'll get an office or two in New Jersey but you won't produce any drugs. Silly.