Health/Life Sciences

Life sciences information roundup: Adaptive layoffs; Seattle Youngsters’s biotech partnership; and extra

Adaptive’s HQ in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo)

As a bear market takes a bite out of biotech stock values that had soared during the pandemic, some companies are retrenching.

Adaptive Biotechnologies had recently doubled its headcount as it turned to COVID-19 projects, but on Wednesday the Seattle company laid off 12% of its workforce, about 100 employees. The public company is reorganizing to focus on two key areas: immune medicine and “minimal residual disease” cancer detection. Adaptive also hired a new CFO, Tycho Peterson.

“Given current market conditions affecting Adaptive and the biotech industry more broadly, we needed to ensure we had enough flexibility to meet our medium- to long-terms goals,” a spokesperson told GeekWire.

We’ve rounded up other recent life sciences and health tech news in the Pacific Northwest below:

Joyce Yen, head of the UW ADVANCE program. (UW Photo)
  • Joyce Yen recently won a $10,000 U.S. Presidential Award for her mentorship leading the University of Washington ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change. We spoke with her about how to lower barriers to recruiting and retaining women STEM faculty.
  • Seattle Children Therapeutics will advance its BrainChild CAR T cell therapies for central nervous system cancers into phase 2 trials in partnership with Cellevolve. Children’s investigator Dr. Michael Jensen, a co-founder of Umoja Biopharma, will become chair of the San Francisco company’s scientific advisory board, and Seattle Children’s will receive an equity stake.
  • Bothell, Wash.-based Cocrystal Pharma has dosed its first subjects in a phase 1 trial of a broad-spectrum oral antiviral agent for pandemic and seasonal influenza A.
  • Alpine Immune Sciences’ clinical trial for its immune modulator davoceticept, combined with the immune checkpoint drug Keytruda, was put on a partial hold while investigators assess a patient death in the study.   
  • Washington state partners with Seattle-based startup 2morrow to offer its smoking cessation app for free to state residents. A recent study showed the app is being used by a broad range of demographic groups — meanwhile, a measure to ban flavored vape products popular with kids died in the state legislature for the second year in a row.
  • Evergreen Bioscience, an organization working to make Washington state and the Intermountain Northwest a magnet for contract research and manufacturing was awarded $500,000 by Washington state’s Department of Commerce.
  • A new study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation tallied the overwhelming burden of the pandemic, concluding that 18.2 million people died worldwide from COVID-19 between the start of the pandemic and the end of last year, compared to the 5.94 million deaths officially reported.
  • Here’s a nice profile of a Portland biotech startup, Sparrow Pharmaceuticals, which is testing therapies to soften the effects of excess steroid levels, in phase 2 clinical trials.
  • University of Washington researchers have developed a device to detect the acidity of dental plaque using optical measurements. The readout may tell what area of the tooth is most at risk of developing a cavity, according to a new study.

Editor’s note: Charlotte Schubert previously worked as a science editor and writer at Seattle Children’s Therapeutics.

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