Life sciences and health tech news roundup: AIlen Institute’s new CEO, AI2’s incubator, and more

Allen Institute headquarters in Seattle. (Allen Institute Photo)

The legacy of the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen lives on at some of Seattle’s most innovative institutions.

This week GeekWire profiled the AI2 incubator, a branch of the Allen Institute for AI (AI2) launched by Allen in 2013. GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop explored the past and the future of the incubator, which is increasingly fostering health tech and biotech companies including BirchAI and Modulus Therapeutics.

We also interviewed the new CEO of the Allen Institute, the life sciences counterpart to the AI2. Rui Costa spoke about team research, his commitment to diversity, and his view on the institute’s approach to new industry partnerships.

Read on for this and more life sciences and health tech coverage in the Pacific Northwest from GeekWire and beyond, including a study showcasing the Allen Institute’s new visualization tool, the “Simularium Viewer.”

— Inside the AI2 Incubator: Microsoft co-founder’s unfinished legacy fuels quest for new AI startups

The neural dynamics of teamwork: New Allen Institute CEO on diversity and impact in life science

Seattle startup raises $9.7M for clinical trial to test inhaled CBD as anxiety treatment

The Allen Institute’s “Simularium Viewer” shows a red nanoparticle about to be enveloped by a yellow lipid coat. See video here. (Allen Institute Image)

New studies:

  • The Allen Institute’s “Simularium Viewer” enables computational visualization of biological processes and was described in a study this week. Researchers showcased video simulations of a nanoparticle wrapped by an outer coat, a lung infected by the COVID-19 virus, and the bacterium E. Coli dividing.
  • Alpine Immune Sciences published a preclinical study on its lead immuno-oncology candidate, an immune “checkpoint inhibitor” directed against three targets at once. The Seattle biotech company is testing the compound in two clinical trials.
  • Researchers at Fred Hutch and their colleagues found that breast cancer treatment may result in an elevated risk for cardiovascular events. “Scientists and clinicians must prioritize research that will reduce this risk,” said Fred Hutch investigator Heather Greenlee in a news release.
  • A noninvasive ultrasound technique tested by University of Washington surgeon Jonathan Harper and his colleagues can dissipate kidney stones. The technique may lead to less invasive treatment methods and is licensed to Silicon Valley company SonoMotion.  

Raising funds:

  • The University of Washington will build a new tuberculosis research center with up to $5.3 million from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, announced this week.
  • AVM Biotechnology landed a $1.6 million small business grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will support preclinical research on the Seattle company’s lead compound, based on the corticosteroid dexamethasone. The compound triggers a special type of T cell and will be tested in type 1 diabetes in mouse models. Meanwhile, the company is enrolling patients in a phase 1/2 clinical trial testing the compound in blood cancers.

Fostering startups:

  • The University of Washington Startup Career & Internship Fair this year was live and in person. Biotech companies were front and center.
  • Find Ventures and the Washington State Department of Commerce selected 10 tech startups and founders for its first “Equitable Innovations Accelerator.” Health tech companies Coltrain, Litesprite and GoldenSHERPA made the cut.

Moving up and abroad:

  • Fred Hutch investigator Phil Greenberg was elected president of the American Association for Cancer Research.
  • Seattle biotech company Nanostring is expanding, opening a European headquarters in Amsterdam.
  • Adaptive Biotechnologies’ former chief medical officer Lance Baldo has a new job with the same title at South San Francisco-based Freenome.
  • Inventprise has a new CEO, Yves Leurquin, and two new board members. The Redmond, Wash.-based company also received $30 million of up to $90 million pledged by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support clinical development of the company’s vaccine for pediatric pneumococcal disease.

Stacee R. Grigg

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