Health/Life Sciences

Life sciences information roundup: New enterprise money, buildings, gadgets and offers

A crew recently vaccinated against COVID-19 by Discovery Health. (Discovery Health Photo)

The week’s life sciences news in the Pacific Northwest was all about new buildings, new initiatives, and new venture funding.

A new science building that aims to bring together public and private researchers is slated for the University of Washington main campus. Meanwhile, UW Bothell is planning a new center to educate the biotech workforce and just landed $750,000 in federal funding.

While biotech stock values continue to dwindle across the market, venture firms are raising cash. Frazier Life Sciences pulled in nearly $1 billion for its latest life sciences fund. And ex-Athira Pharma CEO Leen Kawas has co-founded a new investment firm, after leaving the company in the wake of an investigation into alterations of research images in her papers. The new firm has signed up a board of biotech heavyweights.

Read on for this and more from GeekWire’s coverage this week, including a story about how one intrepid physician CEO built up her company, Discovery Health, from eight to 300 employees during the pandemic — and saved a lot of people from COVID-19 along the way.

Univ. of Washington science programs to be housed in new building that includes public, private tenants

Univ. of Washington plans new biotech workforce center in Bothell with $750K in federal funding

— Frazier Life Sciences raises nearly $1B for new venture fund focused on earlier-stage companies

— Ex-Athira Pharma CEO Leen Kawas starts $150M fund with key investors from former company

— How this health startup serving the maritime industry saw huge growth in the pandemic

— Microsoft and Portland startup pilot AI-powered tool to thwart central line infection

Seagen and pharma giant Sanofi ink deal to build, commercialize new anti-cancer therapeutics

— Fred Hutch launches trial that may eliminate HIV in leukemia patients

— Gates Foundation, partners launch $90M program to develop drugs for future pandemics

— Lawsuit: Washington state AG alleges stem cell center ‘deceptively’ marketed treatments for COVID-19

The west part of the UW campus, envisioned as an area for collaboration among various business and nonprofit organizations, will be the site of a new research building. (UW Image)

And here’s other life sciences news from across the Pacific Northwest and beyond:

Study: UW and Allen Institute researcher Jay Shendure mapped the diversity of cells that emerge during development of the mouse embryo. The study integrated several datasets collected by sequencing the RNA content of single cells.

Clinical trial: Seattle startup Tend is testing its device to collect, process and encapsulate stool samples (“clean, simple, encapsulated”) in a clinical trial to reset the microbiome for patients with recurrent Clostridium difficile infection. The trial will compare the device to current processing methods and comes on the heels of a recent $2.5 million seed funding round for the company, previously called MicrobiomX.

Funding: 2seventy bio has raised $170 million in a private placement, offering securities to a select group of investors. The Boston-based cell therapy company recently spun out of Bluebird bio and has about 40 employees in the Seattle area, about 10% of its workforce.

Field research tool: The UW team that invented a tiny device to track murder hornets has developed an experimental dandelion-like array, dispersed by the breeze, for monitoring field conditions.  

Lawsuit: Science Magazine reports that the UW committee that oversees animal care has filed a lawsuit to maintain confidentiality of its members, out of concern for animal rights activism.

New ways of work: Nature explores how lab scientists are adapting to a combination of remote and in-lab work modes.

Responses to the war on Ukraine: A growing number big pharma companies are severing ties with Ukraine. The country is also known as a hub for clinical trials, many now in jeopardy. STAT News and Bloomberg profile the Ukrainian company Enamine, which provides chemical building blocks for biopharma companies worldwide. In Seattle, tech workers with Ukrainian roots have built a website to ease the donation process for aid groups.

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