Life sciences news: Adaptive reveals data on Lyme disease test; mental health startup lands $10M

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 Children’s Photo)

Here’s a rundown of the top life sciences and health news across the Pacific Northwest this week.

Adaptive earnings, Lyme disease test: Two months after streaming its operations and laying off about 100 employees, Adaptive Biotechnologies reported its first quarter earnings this week. The company pulled in $38.6 million, up 0.5% from the year-ago quarter. It also revealed data on its T-Detect test for Lyme disease, saying it was twice as sensitive for detecting the disease as current tests (54% vs 30% detection). Adaptive expects the test to be ready for the 2022 Lyme season, which typically peaks in the summer.

Start-upnews: Seattle-based Heard, which helps ease the administrative load for mental health providers, raised $10 million. Another new startup, Asha AI, launched an app to help the elderly with medical care.

Amazon reimburses travel expenses: Amazon told employees it will reimburse up to $4,000 of travel expenses annually for employees who need to seek medical care, including abortions, more than 100 miles from their home. The news of Amazon’s new benefit came just before Politico published a story about a leaked draft opinion from the US Supreme Court that would overturn Roe vs. Wade.

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

— Adaptive Biotechnologies reports $38.6M in Q1 revenue as it repositions following job cuts

Seattle startup Heard raises $10M to ease administrative load for mental health providers

— Asha AI app, which helps elderly manage their care, among startups pitching at life science event

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

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

— Kelp need help: Paul Allen’s foundation, enviros and entrepreneurs step up to save an essential seaweed

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 offer to buy Zymeworks has brought on Alan Barge as an advisor. The former head of oncology at AstraZeneca adds biopharma clout to All Blue Capital’s non-binding bid. The firm’s other investments are mainly tech firms like Lyft and Pinterest.
  • Seattle-based Umoja Biopharma 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 tags tumor cells with a molecule called fluorescein. Patients are treated with therapeutic CAR T cells that in turn recognize fluorescein.
  • Athira Pharma’s billionaire investor Richard Kayne continued his push to oust CEO Mark Litton, proffering a replacement: Ronald Krall, former chief medical officer of GlaxoSmithKline. Kayne is seeking a board seat along with ex-Novartis CFO George Bickerstaff, and previously said the board “erred in hastily replacing” previous CEO Leen Kawas. Kawas resigned last fall after an investigation of data integrity in papers she co-authored and has since launched an investment fund with Kayne. Meanwhile, NPR’s BiotechNation podcast chatted with Litton about the company’s approach to developing Alzheimer’s disease treatments, and STAT News highlighted its use of EEG data to assess clinical responses.

Studies:

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

Book tours:

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

Health-tech:

  • UW Medicine clinical associate professor Hillary Liss and Seattle physician Jennifer Jones-Vanderleest were recognized with a technology award from the American Academy of HIV Medicine and the Institute for Technology in Health Care. The pair support the health of incarcerated people with HIV in King County through a telemedicine partnership.
  • Health benefits platform company Accolade has teamed up with Rx Savings Solutions, which provides recommendations to lower prescription medicine costs and other services. The partnership comes after a recent announcement that Accolade will lose long-time customer Comcast, which represents less than 10% of the company’s revenue. Accolade reported $310 million in revenue for its fiscal year 2022, an 82% increase from the previous period. Its stock has been trading at all-time lows.

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