There was a lot of variety in Seattle biotech this week, with stories on vaccines, diagnostics, an open-source biology, and an interesting new research service business that emerged from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
—Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) is staking its claim as Seattle’s biotech anchor tenant in the making. One of the things anchor companies do is spin off lots of talented people who populate other companies. So I sought to track down some of the people who had formative experiences at the Seattle-based developer of cancer immunotherapies, and provided updated links on where they are now.
—Sage Bionetworks, the fledgling movement for open source biology, secured some more support this week through a partnership with Merck. The pharma giant, where Sage founder Stephen Friend used to be a mover-shaker, has agreed to support some of Sage’s work to build network models that seek to connect the dots between DNA, RNA, proteins, and clinical symptoms of disease.
—Lee Hood’s new company with a big idea for personalized medicine, Integrated Diagnostics, has recruited its first CEO. Albert Luderer, the former boss of Woburn, MA-based BioTrove, has agreed to take on the challenge of carrying out Hood’s vision of diagnostics that can diagnose cancer and Alzheimer’s at far earlier stages than anything we have today, and to do it with just a pinprick of blood.
—Hans Rosling gave a very entertaining and informative talk last week at the annual fundraiser for the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, but I walked away with an update on the nonprofit’s quest against malaria. Seattle Biomed’s experimental malaria vaccine—first conceived nine years ago—is being primed to enter its first clinical trial in a matter of weeks.
—We broke the news last week on the founding of Seattle-based Adaptive TCR, a company that uses proprietary software algorithms to analyze the diversity of T cells in a blood sample. The company has raised $4.5 million from angel investors to build a service business model for researchers who are curious to run this new kind of test. CEO Chad Robins says that the information from the T cell analysis could be used for diagnostics and drug discovery.
—Academics get a lot of grief from businesspeople for not being entrepreneurial enough, but we heard the other side of the story this week in a smart account from Anthony Rodriguez, a Ph.D student in bioengineering at the University of Washington. Why don’t more researchers start companies? Lack of time is one big reason, he says.