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Technology Alliance Showcases Five Companies in Sensors, Mobile Displays, and Drug Therapies: Investors Take Notice

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spent on salt in the winter of 2008-09 by about one-third.

RoadWyze currently has four employees and a number of patents pending. Its latest prototype sensor systems will be complete in July, Keep said.

4. Immusoft (Seattle)

This company’s core technology hails from Nobel Laureate David Baltimore’s lab at Caltech. It involves programming the human immune system to protect patients from viruses and diseases in a targeted, efficient, and cost-effective way.

CEO Matthew Scholz, a serial biotech entrepreneur, has been working on the problem for two years. The basic idea is to get the human body to produce certain kinds of therapeutic antibodies on its own instead of having to get a shot every few weeks. “We think this is the biggest thing to hit medicine since vaccines,” he says. (In February, Scholz wrote a guest piece for Xconomy on the need for an “incubator culture” in Seattle biotech.)

Scholz and his team took the Caltech system and added some crucial elements (a shell from a virus and a “suicide gene” for safety) so that a patient just needs to get blood drawn, and then the process should only take a week or so, he says.

Immusoft is about a year old and has four employees and two patents filed. Scholz mentioned a number of recent partnerships, including tests in monkeys being done in collaboration with Seattle BioMed, and a study with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to optimize the therapy for clinics. He says the initial focus will be HIV. The company is currently raising a small funding round.

5. Seattle Sensor Systems (Seattle)

This company has been around since 2002, but is getting a fresh start under the leadership of new CEO Carole Spangler, a UW TechTransfer alum and former employee at Seattle-based Dendreon. (Spangler actually gave a talk at a Zino Society investment forum earlier this week and won the prize for “best investment opportunity.”)

Seattle Sensor Systems makes a portable sensor unit that can test for biohazards like anthrax, red tide, ricin, and viruses such as H1N1, and give results in the field in 10 minutes or less. (The current state of the art in U.S. bio-terror response is still fairly slow and involves shipping samples off for different tests to be done by large machines sitting in laboratories, Spangler says.) Her company’s system comes pre-loaded with chips set to do specific tests for nerve agents, bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and so forth. The technology, based on a technique called “surface plasmon resonance,” was developed at the UW over the past decade with some $8 million in grant money. (Two patents have been issued and two are pending.)

It isn’t cheap—the sensor box costs about $30,000. But it works, according to four separate field tests done by the U.S. Department of Defense, Spangler says. The next phase will be to make the device smaller and cheaper, and sell it to first responders, possibly with wireless and GPS networking that will let people on the front lines upload their findings to a centralized database. The company is currently raising a Series A funding round.

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