Life sciences news roundup: COVID-19 vaccines developed in Seattle get green light, and more

Structure of the UW COVID-19 vaccine (right). (UW Photo)

Two COVID-19 vaccines developed in Seattle got the nod from regulatory agencies outside the U.S. this week. A University of Washington shot is ready for rollout in South Korea, and a shot linked to HDT Bio won emergency use approval in India. The UW shot is the first approved medicine based on computational protein design, “To me that is a watershed moment,” UW researcher Neil King told GeekWire earlier this month.

Read on for more life sciences news this week in the Pacific Northwest.

  • ARCH Venture Partners raises close to $3B for early-stage biotech fund
  • Biotech startups join AWS and other partners in open-source project to help design new proteins
  • ‘I wouldn’t be an engineer without it’: UW program supports underserved STEM students
Structure of a bacterial protein, including a structure produced by open source tool OpenFold. (OpenFold Image)

Clinical trials and studies:

  • Fred Hutch researcher Jesse Bloom and his colleagues published a study outlining key teps in the evolution of Omicron and other COVID-19 variants.
  • South San Francisco and Vancouver, B.C.-based ESSA Pharma’s experimental therapy for prostate cancer showed “initial anti-tumor activity” in an early-stage study.
  • Seattle-area medical device company LumiThera reported data on its trial treating age-related macular degeneration with a type of light therapy.
  • Black women were more likely than white women to experience delays in obtaining a breast biopsy than white women, according to a UW-led study. The findings suggest that systemic racism may be a factor.

Approvals and deals:

  • Bristol Myers Squibb’s CAR T cell cancer therapy Breyanzi, manufactured in the Seattle area, was approved to treat patients at an earlier stage of disease.
  • Arzeda, a Seattle company that designs proteins for industrial use, announced a collaboration with global materials science company W. L. Gore Associates.
  • Vancouver B.C.-based Poda, which developed nicotine-delivery devices, completed a $100.5 million sale to Altria Group.


  • UW bioengineer Patrick Boyle landed a $2.9 million NIH grant to create a tool assessing risk of stroke in people with heart conditions, combining medical imaging with computational approaches.
  • UW assistant chemistry professor Dianne Xiao, who works on catalysis, clean energy and materials, received a $600,000 award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.
  • The Washington Research Foundation donated $1.65 million to support graduate students at the UW and Washington State University.
  • WSU’s Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience awarded four $160,000 seed grants to scientists researching neurodegenerative disease.

Tech moves:

  • Timothy Dellit took on interim positions as CEO of UW Medicine, executive VP for medical affairs, and dean of the school of medicine. He replaced Paul Ramsey, who retired this summer.
  • Kineta has a new chief scientific officer, Thierry Guillaudeux, as does Zymeworks, which hired Paul Moore.
  • William Canestaro will be a fellow of the German Marshall Fund while keeping his job as Washington Research Foundation managing director.

In case you missed it:

  • Affini-T Therapeutics announced a partnership with gene editing company Metagenomi. Affini-T, which has operations in Seattle, will apply Metagenomi’s tech to its T cell receptor therapies directed against cancer-causing genes.
  • Healthcare innovation collaborative Matter launched an incubation program with Amazon Web Services to prepare startups from Europe, Africa and the Middle East to understand and enter the U.S. healthcare market.

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