Report: Seattle biotech VLST unloads assets and shuts doors

A 9-year run for VLST has ended. The Seattle biotech outfit has peddled assets to undisclosed buyers for undisclosed terms and shut its doors for good, Xconomy's Luke Timmerman reported.

As Timmerman points out, the lack of disclosures makes it difficult to really know how well investors made out with their interests in VLST. Yet two backers told the Seattle-based biotech editor that they were satisfied with the outcome. In my experience with successful M&A events, most of the financial terms are shouted loud and clear.

The recent history of VLST shows a series of course changes and bad news for employees. After 8 years of discovery work and without a single candidate in clinical trials, the company last year latched onto a clinical-stage anti-CD40 antibody from Pfizer ($PFE), which had shelved the asset along with others in its pipeline. And former VLST CEO Marty Simonetti's next move was to shed two-thirds of its staff to focus on development of the antibody from Pfizer and cut operating costs.

Before pivoting toward development of the Pfizer antibody, VLST had raised a $55 million Series B round in 2006 with funding from Texas Pacific Group Ventures, Amgen Ventures, MedImmune Ventures and WRF Capital. Novo Nordisk ($NVO) and VLST inked a partnership focused on immune disorders in 2008. Also, VLST founders Craig Smith and Steve Wiley were part of the legendary Immunex organization that developed the blockbuster Enbrel, and their new outfit was investigating novel immunology in search of new ways to treat autoimmune diseases.

Seattle's Accelerator was also an early supporter of the startup. Accelerator and other biotech backers in the city have been on the lookout for companies with prospects for major growth, perhaps the next Immunex or Icos. Yet such companies have been tough to come by in Seattle, and the list of candidates just got shorter.  

- check out Timmerman's article

Special Report: The 2012 Biotech Graveyard

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