Life Science News: Adaptive Reveals Lyme Disease Testing Data; Mental health startup lands $10 million

Seattle Children’s is partnering with Umoja Biopharma to test a new CAR T cell immunotherapy in patients with sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. (Seattle kids photo)

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

Adaptive gains, Lyme disease test: Two months after streamlining its operations and laying off around 100 employees, Adaptive Biotechnologies released its first-quarter results this week. The company withdrew $38.6 million, up 0.5% from the year-ago quarter. It also revealed data on its T-Detect test for Lyme disease, indicating that it was twice as sensitive at detecting the disease as current tests (54% versus 30% detection). Adaptive expects the test to be ready for the 2022 Lyme season, which typically peaks in the summer.

Start-up news: Seattle-based Heard, which helps ease the administrative burden on mental health providers, has raised $10 million. Another new startup, Asha AI, has launched an app to help seniors with medical care.

Amazon reimburses travel expenses: Amazon told employees it would reimburse up to $4,000 in travel costs per year for employees who need medical treatment, including abortions, more than 100 miles from home. News of Amazon’s new perk came just before Politico published a story about a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that would reverse Roe against Wade.

Read more life sciences and healthcare news from the Pacific Northwest this week.

– Adaptive Biotechnology brings in $38.6 million of 1st quarter revenue due to repositioning following job cuts

Seattle startup Heard raises $10 million to ease administrative burden on mental health providers

– Asha AI app, which helps seniors manage their care, among startups showcasing life sciences event

— Amazon will reimburse employee travel expenses for abortions and other medical treatments

— Seattle Police Department tests brain stimulation headband as part of wellness research effort

— Kelp Needs Help: The Paul Allen Foundation, Enviros and Entrepreneurs Step Up to Save a Vital Algae

Asha AI CEO Rashmi Joshi, left, and lead designer Dayton Kelly at the Life Science Innovation Northwest 2022 meeting. (GeekWire Photo/Charlotte Schubert)

More biotech news:

  • The investment firm that recently made a $773 million bid to buy Zymeworks has brought in Alan Barge as an adviser. The former head of oncology at AstraZeneca adds biopharma clout to All Blue Capital’s non-binding offer. The company’s other investments are mostly in tech companies like Lyft and Pinterest.
  • Seattle-based Umoja Biopharma has launched a new CAR T-cell immunotherapy trial at Seattle Children’s for patients with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. The company’s approach labels tumor cells with a molecule called fluorescein. Patients are treated with therapeutic CAR T cells which, in turn, recognize fluorescein.
  • Billionaire Athira Pharma investor Richard Kayne continued his efforts to oust CEO Mark Litton, proposing a replacement: Ronald Krall, former chief medical officer of GlaxoSmithKline. Kayne is seeking a board seat with former Novartis chief financial officer George Bickerstaff and has previously said the board “made a mistake in hastily replacing” former CEO Leen Kawas. Kawas resigned last fall after a data integrity investigation into articles she co-authored and has since launched an investment fund with Kayne. Meanwhile, NPR’s BiotechNation podcast chatted with Litton on the company’s approach to developing treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, and STAT News highlighted its use of EEG data to assess clinical responses.

Studies:

  • Fred Hutch researchers George Laszlo and Roland Walter are developing cancer drugs that deliver radiation to specific cells. In their latest study, they present agents that target leukemia cells via an antibody and deliver a bound radionuclide.
  • The thousands of genetic variants linked to autoimmune diseases have been narrowed down to those most likely to have an effect. Researchers from the Brotman Baty Institute and other institutions extracted 60 gene variants by evaluating their influence on gene activity in T cells.
  • Every cell in the body comes from another, and now UW researchers have traced the origins of cells in mouse brains by examining how mutations accumulated in parental cells are passed down. The authors used single-cell RNA sequencing to detect such mutations.

Book a visit:

  • Bill Gates spoke with Daily Show host Trevor Noah about his new book, ‘How to Prevent the Next Pandemic’.

Health Technology:

  • Hillary Liss, associate clinical professor at UW Medicine, and Jennifer Jones-Vanderleest, Seattle physician have been recognized with a technology award from the American Academy of HIV Medicine and the Institute for Technology in Health Care. The couple support the health of incarcerated people living with HIV in King County through a telemedicine partnership.
  • Healthcare benefits platform company Accolade has partnered with Rx Savings Solutions, which provides recommendations for reducing the costs of prescription drugs and other services. The partnership comes after a recent announcement that Accolade will lose longtime customer Comcast, which accounts for less than 10% of the company’s revenue. Accolade reported revenue of $310 million for its fiscal year 2022, an 82% increase over the prior period. Its stock is trading at historic lows.

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