Health/Life Sciences

Life sciences information: New startups, fundings, mergers, medical trials, partnerships

A protein (purple) interacting with a small molecule, a potential drug (green), visualized in Charm Therapeutics’ DragonFold tool. (Charm Image)

Here’s a rundown of life sciences and health news across the Pacific Northwest this week.

  • Talus Bioscience raised $9.75 million. The drug discovery company is led by its scientist founders, who were inspired by other Seattle companies with similar setups.
  • Kineta is going public in a merger with Boston-based Yumanity. The deal will add a new neurosciences program to Kineta, which is mainly focused on immuno-oncology.
  • David Baker, head of the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design, has launched a new biotech company, London-based Charm Therapeutics.


  • DNA sequencing companies TwinStrand Biosciences, based in Seattle, and Singular Genomics have paired up to develop ultra-sensitive tests to detect rare gene variants. A key application is detection of “minimal residual disease” in cells and tumor DNA in the bloodstream.
  • Seattle’s Umoja Biopharma and TreeFrog Therapeutics are combining technology to make new therapies from human induced pluripotent stem cells, blank-slate cells that can be nudged into different cell types. Umoja has a way to turn these cells into therapeutic immune cells, and TreeFrog can grow them in large amounts.  

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) abstracts:

  • Seagen presented positive data on Adcetris, its drug for Hodgkin lymphoma developed with Takeda, at the ASCO meeting. A drug combination including Adcetris outperformed standard-of-care, resulting a 41% reduction of risk of death in a phase 3 trial.
  • Other Seattle-area institutions and companies at the meeting included: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center; Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; Seattle Children’s; OncoResponse; Alpine Immune Sciences; Zymeworks; CTI BioPharma; AVM Biotechnology; Adaptive Biotechnologies; and OnQuality Pharmaceuticals.

Clinical trials:

  • People from age six months to 49 years will be assessed in a study asking how well COVID-19 vaccines protect against illness, especially in children, and how the immune system responds after infection. The multi-center study will enroll 3,500 people in the Seattle and Portland areas.
  • Cell therapy company Sonoma Biotherapeutics has the green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for an early-stage trial of its biologic SBT115301. SBT115301 is designed to eliminate highly active immune cells present in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, in preparation for treatment with cells derived from “regulatory” T cells, which calm the immune system.


  • Researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and their colleagues assessed the mechanism of action of isoflurane, a common anesthetic. The gas inhibits a key protein complex in mitochondria, the cell’s energy-producing factories, leading to effects on neurons.
  • Baker, head of the UW’s Institute for Protein Design, and his colleagues penned a review article in Nature exploring how to design efficient enzymes from scratch.

New manufacturing center:

  • Swiss biomanufacturing giant Lonza has expanded its facility in Bend, Ore., adding a new center focused on improving delivery of oral or inhaled small molecules.

Closed for business:

  • Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson won $500,000 for people who had paid for unproven stem cell treatments from a company that ran the Seattle Stem Cell Center, which is no longer allowed to market such treatments.

Events and deadlines:

  • The Creative Destruction Lab-Seattle is accepting applications until July 31 for its next startup program, for computational health and manufacturing.  
  • The East West Life Science Summit on June 29-30 will focus on biomanufacturing in Washington state. The summit is sponsored by the trade group Life Science Washington.

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