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Bothell companies are developing nine cancer medicines

A record 887 medicines for various cancers are in clinical trials or awaiting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review — well over double the number in the pipeline just six years ago, according to a report unveiled Monday by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Nine of those medicines are being developed in Bothell: Northwest Biotherapeutics is working on a dendritic cell immunotherapy for prostate and ovarian cancer. Oncogenex is working on a drug targeted for lung, breast and bladder cancer. Seattle Genetics is working on five new drugs for various cancers. And Marina Biotech is working on a treatment for cancer pain.

When PhRMA released its first accounting of medicines in development for cancer in 1988, only 65 medicines for cancers were recorded. The numbers over the next decade grew gradually. As recently as 2005, there were fewer than 400 medicines in development for cancer.

“Unprecedented insights into how cancer cells develop, grow and spread are providing new targets and new ways of attacking the disease,” said John J. Castellani, PhRMA’s president and CEO, explaining the increase. “Rapidly advancing technologies and the commitment of researchers to follow new clues are providing hope.”

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