New Startups, Funding, Mergers, Clinical Trials, Partnerships – GeekWire

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

Here’s a look at life sciences and health news in the Pacific Northwest this week.


  • Seattle-based DNA sequencing companies TwinStrand Biosciences and Singular Genomics have teamed up to develop ultra-sensitive tests to detect rare genetic variants. One application is the detection of “minimal residual disease” in tumor cells and DNA in the bloodstream.
  • Seattle-based Umoja Biopharma and TreeFrog Therapeutics are combining technology to create new cell therapies from human-induced pluripotent stem cells, virgin cells that can be grown into different cell types. Umoja has a way to turn these cells into therapeutic immune cells, and TreeFrog can grow them in large quantities.

Abstracts from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO):

Clinical tests:

  • People aged six months to 49 years will be assessed in a study asking how well COVID-19 vaccines protect against the disease, especially in children, and how the immune system responds after infection. The multicenter study will recruit 3,500 people in the Seattle and Portland areas.
  • Cell therapy company Sonoma Biotherapeutics has received the green light from the US Food and Drug Administration for a preliminary trial of its biologic SBT115301. SBT115301 is designed to eliminate highly active immune cells found in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, for treatment with immune-calming “regulatory” T cell-derived cells.


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

New manufacturing center:

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

Closed for business:

  • Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has won $500,000 for people who paid for unproven stem cell treatments from a company that ran the no longer licensed Seattle Stem Cell Center to commercialize such treatments.

Events and deadlines: