Seattle skyline (TomKli via Shutterstock)

Move over, Boston and San Fran­cis­co? Seat­tle tops list of fastest grow­ing biotech hubs for job op­por­tu­ni­ties — re­port

Boston and San Fran­cis­co have long been es­tab­lished as the two biggest biotechs hubs in the na­tion, homes for R&D that has spread its ten­ta­cles through all lev­els of the in­dus­try. But as the space has grown, those two hubs have im­posed tighter bar­ri­ers to en­try — which means cities like Seat­tle could have a chance to build a hub of in­no­va­tion of their own.

The Seat­tle-Taco­ma-Belle­vue tri­an­gle is the fastest grow­ing area for life sci­ences em­ploy­ment, close­ly fol­lowed by the At­lanta area and the Or­lan­do-Kissim­mee-San­ford tri­an­gle, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port from JLL. The team com­pared em­ploy­ment rates in the in­dus­try be­tween the past five years and the five years pre­ced­ing that.

On that rat­ing, life sci­ence po­si­tions in the Seat­tle area grew at a 3.1% clip, com­pared with 3% for the At­lanta area and 2.9% for the Cen­tral Flori­da tri­an­gle. In terms of wage po­si­tion­ing — a met­ric com­par­ing rel­a­tive wages be­tween biotech hubs — the Seat­tle area ranked fourth just be­hind Los An­ge­les, the Twin Cities and the North Car­oli­na tri­an­gle of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill.

The JLL re­port, ti­tled “Life Sci­ences Emerg­ing Mar­kets In­dex: Poised for a par­a­digm shift,” the team not on­ly looked at biotech hubs’ “mo­men­tum,” but al­so their wealth of avail­able tal­ent and “po­ten­tial” to at­tract a work­force.

“Though Boston, San Fran­cis­co, and San Diego will al­ways oc­cu­py a vault­ed place with­in the life sci­ences pan­theon, the in­cred­i­ble dy­namism of the in­dus­try is jump-start­ing new mar­kets that are of grow­ing in­ter­est to life sci­ences in­vestors and com­pa­nies alike thanks to their lifestyle, cost of liv­ing, and de­mo­graph­ic ad­van­tages,” JLL wrote.

In terms of to­tal STEM de­grees, the megac­i­ties ob­vi­ous­ly topped the list: New York City, Los An­ge­les, Chica­go and Wash­ing­ton, DC. Round­ing out the list there are the Hous­ton and Dal­las ar­eas, San Fran­cis­co, Boston, Toron­to and At­lanta.

The re­port al­so out­lined an in­dex for “po­ten­tial,” which it de­fined as a ma­trix of hous­ing avail­abil­i­ty, an ex­ist­ing mil­len­ni­al work­force, state cor­po­rate tax­es and high­er-ed­u­ca­tion R&D fund­ing. By that met­ric, the Char­lotte-Gas­to­nia-Con­cord tri­an­gle in North Car­oli­na nar­row­ly edged out the Seat­tle area. Just be­low those fron­trun­ners were the Den­ver-Au­ro­ra-Lake­wood area in Col­orado and the Austin, TX re­gion, in­clud­ing two cities along In­ter­state 35 — Round Rock and George­town. A cou­ple oth­er sur­pris­es on the top 10 po­ten­tial list were Boise, ID, and the greater Nashville area.

Part of what de­fined those ar­eas’ po­ten­tial were cor­po­rate tax rates, and on that front Wash­ing­ton and Texas came out on top. Both states boast a 0% cor­po­rate rate — on­ly North Car­oli­na comes close at 2.5%. Mean­while, Cal­i­for­nia, New York and Texas topped the list in terms of high­er-ed­u­ca­tion R&D spend­ing, a guide­post for IP pro­duc­tion and cor­po­rate fol­lowthrough, JLL said.

Pi­o­neer­ing Click Chem­istry in Hu­mans

Reimagining cancer treatments

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, which is nearly one in six deaths. Recently, we have seen incredible advances in novel cancer therapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, cell therapies, and antibody-drug conjugates that have revamped cancer care and improved survival rates for patients.

Despite this significant progress in therapeutic targeting, why are we still seeing such a high mortality rate? The reason is that promising therapies are often limited by their therapeutic index, which is a measure of the effective dose of a drug, relative to its safety. If we could broaden the therapeutic indices of currently available medicines, it would revolutionize cancer treatments. We are still on the quest to find the ultimate cancer medicine – highly effective in several cancer types, safe, and precisely targeted to the tumor site.

Ivan Cheung, Eisai US chairman and CEO

Bio­gen, Ei­sai re­fresh amy­loid hy­poth­e­sis with PhI­II show­ing Alzheimer's med slows cog­ni­tive de­cline

In the first look at Phase III data for lecanemab, Eisai and Biogen’s follow-up Alzheimer’s drug to the embattled Aduhelm launch, results show the drug passed with flying colors on a test looking at memory, problem solving and other dementia metrics.

One of the most-watched Alzheimer’s therapies in the clinic, lecanemab met the study’s primary goal on the CDR-SB — Clinical Dementia Rating-Sum of Boxes — giving the biotech the confidence to ask for full approval in the US, EU and Japan by next March 31. The experimental drug reduced clinical decline on the scale by 27% compared to placebo at 18 months, the companies said Tuesday night Eastern time and Wednesday morning in Japan.

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Gilead names 'k­ing­pin­s' in coun­ter­feit HIV med law­suit

Gilead is mounting its counterfeit drug lawsuit, naming two “kingpins” and a complex network of conspirators who allegedly sold imitation bottles of its HIV meds, some of which ended up in US pharmacies.

The pharma giant on Wednesday provided an update on what it called a “large-scale, sophisticated counterfeiting conspiracy,” accusing two new defendants of “leading and orchestrating” a scheme to sell hundreds of millions of dollars in illegitimate drugs posing as meds such as Biktarvy and Descovy.

Pa­tient re­port finds con­sti­pa­tion con­di­tion not well man­aged, open­ing door for bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion from phar­ma

Advertising for constipation treatments often uses light-hearted humor in an effort to spur open discussions about the sometimes stigmatized topic. However, that may not be enough to get people to take the condition seriously, a new patient report from Phreesia finds.

Fewer than one-fifth (17%) of patients with constipation surveyed understand the longer-term health risks of constipation such as hemorrhoids and bowel incontinence. Many are trying to manage their condition with over-the-counter medicines, but often for much longer than recommended. An equal 68% say they use home remedies or OTC meds to manage constipation. But while 90% understand that OTCs are not intended for long-term use, 50% have used an OTC constipation medicine for more than a year.

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Nooman Haque, head of life sciences and healthcare at Silicon Valley Bank, and John Carroll

I’m head­ed to Lon­don soon for #EU­BIO22. Care to join me?

It was great getting back to a live ESMO conference/webinar in Paris followed by a live pop-up event for the Endpoints 11 in Boston. We’re staying on the road in October with our return for a live/streaming EUBIO22 in London.

Silicon Valley Bank’s Nooman Haque and I are once again jumping back into the thick of it with a slate of virtual and live events on October 12. I’ll get the ball rolling with a virtual fireside chat with Novo Nordisk R&D chief Marcus Schindler, covering their pipeline plans and BD work.

Tar­sus looks to raise aware­ness of eye­lid mite dis­ease in cam­paign aimed at eye­care spe­cial­ists

Eyelid mite disease may be “gross” but it’s also fairly common, affecting about 25 million people in the US.

Called demodex blepharitis, it’s a well-known condition among eyecare professionals, but they often don’t always realize how common it is. Tarsus Pharmaceuticals wants to change that with a new awareness campaign called “Look at the Lids.”

The campaign and website debut Thursday — just three weeks after Tarsus filed for FDA approval for a drug that treats the disease.

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Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) (Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images))

Sen­ate pass­es bill to re­work an­i­mal test­ing re­quire­ments for drug de­vel­op­ers

The US Senate passed via unanimous consent on Thursday afternoon a bipartisan bill that would eliminate a federal mandate for animal testing for new drugs.

Touted as a much-needed modernization of FDA’s rules, co-sponsor Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have said the bill will stop lots of needless suffering of animals.

Cell and gene ther­a­pies from acad­e­mia: EMA to help 5 projects go­ing af­ter un­met clin­i­cal needs

The European Medicines Agency said Thursday that it’s launching a new pilot program to help academic and other nonprofit researchers developing advanced therapy medicinal products, which includes cell and gene therapies.

Academics have proven to be enormously useful in feeding new products, like chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapies first developed by Memorial Sloan Kettering, and ushered to the market by biopharma companies. Jean Bennett, formerly with the University of Pennsylvania, also saw her research lead to the approval of gene therapy Luxturna, which Roche now owns.

Work taking place in the clean rooms at Vor (Credit: Vor)

Vor Bio opts to keep man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions in-house for de­vel­op­ing stem cell, CAR-T ther­a­pies

While it is not uncommon for a biotech to go down the route of having the product manufactured by a contract organization, one small biotech is looking to keep its card close to its chest.

Vor Biopharma has started manufacturing operations at an in-house facility at its HQ in Cambridge, MA after beginning construction last summer.

According to the biotech, the facility aims to develop Vor’s hematopoietic stem cells (eHSCs) and CAR-T therapies for patients with blood cancers. The site will initially manufacture a clinical supply of its candidate VCAR33allo to support its IND, which is slated to be submitted in the first half of next year. It also plans to transfer the production of VOR33 to the facility. Vor is getting to work quickly as engineering runs for VCAR33allo has started this week.