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

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 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 gene variants. One application is the detection of “minimal residual disease” in cells and tumor DNA in the bloodstream.
  • Seattle’s Umoja Biopharma and TreeFrog Therapeutics combine technology to create new cell therapies from human-induced pluripotent stem cells, raw cells that can be pushed into different cell types. Umoja has a way of turning these cells into therapeutic immune cells, and TreeFrog can grow them in large quantities.

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) summaries:

Clinical Trials:

  • People between the ages of six months and 49 years will be assessed in a study asking how well COVID-19 vaccines protect against disease, 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 been given the green light from the US Food and Drug Administration for an early trial of its biological SBT115301. SBT115301 is designed to eliminate highly active immune cells present in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in preparation for treatment with cells derived from immune-soothing “regulatory” T cells.


  • Seattle Children’s Research Institute researchers and their colleagues rated isoflurane, a general anesthetic. The gas inhibits an important 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 wrote a review article: Nature investigating how efficient enzymes can be designed from scratch.

New production center:

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

Closed for business:

  • Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson won $500,000 for people who 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: