A New Direction For Dendreon?

Dendreon is growing in more ways than one. At a time when so many drug companies are letting people go, Dendreon is on a hiring bingeto ramp up for the anticipated launch of its prostate cancer drug Provenge. But it's also expanding its board of directors.

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Luke Timmerman, who covers biotech for Xconomy, broke the story late last Fridaythat DNDN is creating two more seats. And they aren't no-names. One of them is the soon-to-be CEO of Genentech, Ian Clark, and the other is a former exec at Eli Lilly .

You'd think that when a company like Dendreon snags a couple of industry heavy hitters that there'd be a certain amount of fanfare. But whether or not it's on purpose DNDN's doing this one on the down low. There's no press release on it, just a couple of SEC filings detailing the amount of stock the two new guys are starting out with. And they popped up on the ol' late-on-a-Friday. Either Timmerman, who is based in Dendreon's hometown of Seattle, birddogs that stuff or someone tipped him off.

Dendreon and Genentech have been hooked up for years on another experimental drug. But the selection of Genentech's incoming CEO as a director has the DNDN message boards lighting up with speculation over this being a precursor to something bigger. Dendreon's looking for a Provenge partner for outside the U.S. Genentech, which is now fully owned by the Swiss drugmaker Roche, is the king of oncology medicine. Some analysts have also suggested Dendreon could get taken out.

I don't know what it means, if anything. How about you?

Update: Well, wouldn't you know? At 1 p.m. ET on Monday, three days after the SEC filings showed up, Dendreon issued a press releaseabout the two new directors.

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