New vaccine manufacturing plant; Seagen CEO arrest; and more – GeekWire

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Inventprise CEO Yves Leurquin inside the company’s new vaccine manufacturing facility. (GeekWire Photo / Charlotte Schubert)

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

Bill Gates helps open new vaccine manufacturing facility: Seattle-area biotech company Inventprise built the facility with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “For the Gates Foundation, Inventprise is a super important partner,” said Gates, who attended a ribbon-cutting event and tested positive for COVID-19 the next day.

Former Athira Pharma exec weighs in: Xue Hua, the company’s former head of clinical development and research, published a blog post criticizing the company’s handling of an investigation that led to the resignation of longtime CEO Leen Kawas in October.

Seagen CEO on leave amid domestic violence allegations: Police records detail the night that Seagen CEO Clay Siegall was arrested at his home last month and charged with a fourth degree domestic violence gross misdemeanor. Seagen announced Monday that Siegall is on a leave of absence and the company has initiated its own investigation.

GeekWire Awards winners: The GeekWire Awards were held live and in person for the first time in three years on Thursday. Read more about the winners here, including health data company Truveta, which took home the Health Innovation of the Year award. Other finalists in the category were: A-Alpha Bio, Parse Biosciences, Tasso, and the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design.

The California two-spot octopus (Octopus bimaculoides). (Z. Yan Wang Photo)

More life sciences news:

Recognition: Four University of Washington faculty members have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences: Elizabeth Buffalo, Joseph Mougous, Jay Shendure and emeritus professor Jim Truman.

Ambassador: Sister Dr. Jenna, a self-described “spiritual mentor,” joined Paris Hilton as an ambassador for Seattl-area microbiome company Viome. After using the company’s “precision supplements,” the host of the America Meditating radio show “began feeling such a change in my energy and feelings,” she said in a press release.

Studies:

  • After mating, the female octopus dies in a process known to be mediated by glands between her eyes. The animals sometimes even harm themselves or eat their own limbs in the process. A new study led by University of Washington assistant professor of psychology and biology Z. Yan Wang outlines the chemical pathways that control the octopus demise.
  • The composition of gut microbes may influence the body’s response to statins, common drugs prescribed for cardiovascular disease. Research led by the Institute for Systems Biology found that certain classes of bacteria were associated with stronger response to the drugs. The findings could lead to new ways to predict who is likely to respond and more precise calibration drug dosing.
  • Scientists have long speculated that individuals might have different susceptibility to accumulating mutations in their DNA. University of Washington assistant professor Kelley Harris and her colleagues have now identified a gene in mice that affects the rate at which mutations accumulate in the rest of the genome. The findings have implications for understanding heredity and susceptibility to cancer.
  • Fred Hutch and University of Washington researchers have identified some of the unique immune cells that are found in the vicinity of human solid tumors, providing potential targets for new therapies.

Event: The UW’s Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine is hosting five speakers at its Stem Cell Symposium on Thursday, May 19. The event is in person and virtual.





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