Life Sciences Summary: A Reborn Institute, a Long-COVID Inquiry, and Responses to the War Against Ukraine

Ivan Liachko, CEO of Phase Genomics, grew up in Kiev. Phase matches workers’ contributions to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. (Photos courtesy of Ivan Liachko)

A decades-old research facility in Seattle was released from court custody this week; researchers launched a clinical trial to study long-term COVID; and dozens of students showcased their health innovations at a University of Washington competition.

These are just some of the recent life sciences and health technology events in the Pacific Northwest. In a week dominated by Russia’s attack on Ukraine, companies are also starting to respond.

Below we highlight some of our coverage and additional stories:

Seattle’s Infectious Disease Research Institute was reborn as the Access to Advanced Health Institute (AAHI), after paying off debts overseen by a court-appointed trustee. As Washington prepares to lift its mask mandate on March 12, patients began enrolling in a multi-institutional study of long-term COVID as part of a national effort to identify causes and treatments. Meanwhile, A-Alpha Bio received $1.1 million to help find antibodies against COVID-19 variants. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is using new tools to detect fentanyl variants to address another public health challenge, the opioid epidemic. won awards for several health innovations, including a safer urinary catheter, an all-skin pulse oximeter, and a stent for gastrointestinal surgery.

UW’s Team InSTENT took home first prize in UW’s Hollomon Health Challenge. From left: Ziming (Jimmy) Ye, Brandon Lou, Gillian Pereira, Evan Ross and Clara Black. (UW Photo) Tech companies have significant economic influence, and companies in the Seattle area, including Microsoft, Remitly and Expedia, have announced they are curtailing or scaling their operations in Russia. Some biotech companies are also taking action. In an overview of corporate responses in the Seattle area, we show how Phase Genomics links employee contributions to humanitarian efforts. “Those of us in biotech believe in and build a better future. When a madman tries to tear down a country’s future, we act. Please consider donating to humanitarian causes,” said CEO Ivan Liachko in a tweet† Seagen also matches employee donations, a spokesperson told GeekWire on Friday. National biotech leaders have signed a letter of support for Ukraine, including the CEOs of Seattle area companies Seagen, Silverback Therapeutics, Sonoma Biotherapeutics, OncoResponse, Chinook Therapeutics and Alpine Immune. Sciences and Icosavax. The letter promises to end trade with Russia, except for food and medicines, among other things. Some companies simply see such efforts as good corporate governance — and they can make a difference, Russia expert Fiona Hill said in a recent interview. At Nature, reporters cover the reactions of Ukrainian scientists and the global life sciences community.

The late Harold M. Weintraub, a Fred Hutch researcher. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center recognized 13 graduate students for exceptional research. This year’s Harold M. Weintraub award international cohort had one winner from the Seattle area: Sarah Valente of Fred Hutch, who studied why cancer metastases rarely occur in muscle. You can now summon a medical professional on Amazon’s Echo smart speakers. Teladoc partners with Amazon to provide non-emergency medical care. Just say, “Alexa, I want to talk to a doctor.” One day it may be possible to detect Alzheimer’s disease with a blood test. A test under development by Seattle biotech AltPep received a groundbreaking device designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week, allowing it to receive a prioritized FDA review in its quest for approval. Researchers at Fred Hutch published a way to place an RNA kill switch in cancer cells. The RNA only kills cancer cells that have specific defects in a process called splicing, sparing healthy cells.

The protein PIE-1 is shown on the back of the single cell embryo. The protein provides instructions to the embryo and determines the fate of cells that give rise to sperm and eggs. (Priess Lab Image) Fred Hutch researcher James Priess won the $500,000 annual Gruber Genetics Prize, along with Ruth Lehmann of MIT and Geraldine Seydoux of John Hopkins, for research uncovering molecular mechanisms of early embryo development. Studying the nematode C. elegans, Priess and his team identified several factors that instruct early embryonic cells what to become, such as muscle or gut.

Upcoming events:

Life Science Washington’s Fast Pitch Showdown: Apply before March 15 to present your company in 60 seconds at Life Science Washington’s annual conference April 20-21. Science Talk is scheduled as a hybrid online and in-person conference in Portland, Oregon, 23 March. 25. The meeting “unites science communicators, practitioners and facilitators.”


This post Life Sciences Summary: A Reborn Institute, a Long-COVID Inquiry, and Responses to the War Against Ukraine

was original published at “https://www.geekwire.com/2022/life-sciences-roundup-a-reborn-institute-a-long-covid-study-and-responses-to-the-war-on-ukraine/”