7 Hot Startups From UW: Biotech to 3D Printing

7 Hot Startups From UW: Biotech to 3D Printing

UW’s standing as a leading institution of innovative thinking is well recognized. For decades, innovation has been driven in different fields by its state-of-the-art research centers and collaborative settings. This article particularly explores the flourishing start-up environment at UW, with a focus on two exciting sectors: biotechnology and 3D printing.

These industries are changing healthcare, manufacturing, and more. Exploring the journeys of two UW-born startups will give us insights into what kind of cutting-edge solutions these young companies are coming up with.

7 Hot Startups From UW: Biotech to 3D Printing

Axxis Bio: Engineering a New Weapon Against Cancer

Axxis Bio was established by Dr. David Baker and Dr. Neil King, who are world famous researchers from Seattle. Both work at the IPD (Institute for Protein Design), which is part of the University of Washington (UW). It is known for its seminal contributions to protein structure and function.

Axxis Bio intends to develop a new cancer treatment based on an innovative molecule designed by IPD Labs. The molecule resembles interleukin-21 (IL-21), a signaling molecule that exists naturally within the immune system. IL-21 aids in stimulating immune cells that can attack cancer cells, thus killing them. Nonetheless, IL-21 also has shortcomings, such as possible toxicity concerns.

This engineered version overcomes these limitations. Although it can still stimulate the immune system to fight against tumor cells, it has potentially fewer side effects. This could mean better cancer therapies that can be tolerated better, too.

The company has had some important breakthroughs; for instance, they have recently completed pre-clinical testing and are preparing for a seed funding round in H1 2024. Axxis Bio plans to run clinical trials on their engineered IL-21 candidate with successful fundraising, thereby setting the stage for a targeted and personalized approach to cancer treatment.

TopoGene: Revolutionizing Spatial Omics with High-Resolution DNA Arrays

This second company is TopoGene, a firm that has come to commercialize an innovative technology in the area of spatial omics. Spatial omics is an emerging field that allows scientists to map the location and activity of molecules within tissues, thereby giving unprecedented insights into cellular biology.

The founders of TopoGene came from Dr. Liangcai Gu’s laboratory, a well-known biochemist at UW. TopoGene has introduced a new method for producing high-resolution DNA arrays based on his pioneering work. This technique enables scientists to examine multiple biomolecules directly in tissue samples without any need for elaborate separation techniques.

This novel strategy comes with several benefits. It simplifies workflows, reduces costs, and, most importantly, maintains molecular location within the tissue sample. That would give us a better understanding of how different molecules contribute to performing various functions together within that given tissue.

TopoGene already has funding from NIH through its Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. Beta testing is expected in late 2024 now that the company has received grant support from this organization. If beta testing is successful, this will usher in widespread application of TopoGene’s technology by researchers globally, as its impact on the spatial omics research community would be great, especially when it comes to the high-resolution DNA arrays developed by them, which may help speed up research aimed at finding cures for diseases such as cancer, developmental biology, and neuroscience, among others.

Printing the Future: Polyfos

Polyfos is taking 3D printing to a whole new level. It was made by a team of UW professionals in materials science and engineering; they have invented light-activated polymerization as a method of 3D printing. This novel strategy comes with various advantages:

• Reduced Printing Time: It helps reduce the time required to print objects compared to traditional methods, which makes it ideal for high-volume production.

• Better Material Properties: The process employing light activation allows for stronger and more durable qualities in three-dimensional prints.

• Broader Material Compatibility: They can use Polyfos’ technology with many more different materials, making it possible to create complex functional 3D designs.

Polyfos’ technological advances could have considerable implications for the 3D printing industry. If this development achieves faster production, better material properties, and increased design flexibility, then Polyfos might be the catalyst needed for the widespread adoption of 3D printing across several industries, such as aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and consumer products.

Gene Therapy Gets Targeted: Myosana

Myosana demonstrates UW’s commitment to pioneering biotechnology. The leading team is highly knowledgeable in physiology and biophysics. Their objective is to launch an original non-viral gene therapy platform featuring targeted delivery mechanisms through Myosana. It aims to go beyond viral delivery approaches and limitations that hinder the wide application of gene therapy in tackling different genetic diseases.

Myosana’s gene therapy platform uses specific molecules to direct therapeutic genes into cells that require treatment. Patients with neuromuscular or cardiac genetic defects such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) may find relief through this approach, possibly improving their quality of life significantly. Initially focusing on DMD alone, this condition has the potential to help more individuals living with similar types of ailments.

Smartphones Become Neurological Diagnostic Tools: Apetur

Apetur offers a unique, accessible solution for neurologic disorders. Apetur, created by a team of neuroscience and mobile technology experts, takes advantage of the fact that smartphones are becoming more powerful tools for neurological tests. Smartphone cameras function as an assessment tool to measure pupil responses, which can be used to assess one’s neurological health.

Apetur has several advantages over traditional methods:

• Accessibility and Convenience: The widespread availability of smartphones makes this technology accessible both to healthcare providers and patients alike.

• Early Detection: With Apetur’s assessments, we can hope for early detection and thus early intervention in case of any symptoms of neurologic disease, which will improve their treatment outcome.

• Remote Monitoring: It is possible with this technology to remotely monitor patients, making it ideal for geographically dispersed populations or those with limited mobility.

In essence, the innovative approach by Apetur promises a transformation in the diagnosis and monitoring of neurological disorders towards improved delivery and patient management.

Unveiling the Secrets of the Cell: Kinea Bio

Kinea Bio is poised to become a major player in regenerative medicine through its UW spin-out company. A biomaterials science and engineering team went ahead to form Kinea Bio after their profound experience. These materials are capable of repairing damaged or diseased tissues, leading to tissue repair and regeneration through them.

The company’s focus on biocompatible materials is among its core competencies. In other words, they have been manufactured so that they blend well with the body’s tissues, thus minimizing the chances of rejection by immune system cells. Furthermore, the devices developed by Kinea Bio are functional, implying that they can serve as structural supports and induce cell growth within target areas.

Histone Therapeutics: Epigenetics for a Healthier Future

Epigenetics is the area of focus for Histone Therapeutics, another biotech start-up associated with UW. This area deals with how genes are expressed without changes being made to their DNA sequence. The organization believes that manipulation of epigenetic mechanisms could be an important therapeutic approach for various diseases.

The firm is developing drugs that target specific histone modifications, which are chemical changes that affect gene expression. In this regard, the modifications will either silence or activate genes associated with diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

Histone Therapeutics has partnered up with major research institutions to advance their drug development programs. These partnerships will help move forward their innovative therapies for patients in need of them. As well, the company’s dedication to unlocking the potential of epigenetics places it at the forefront of this rapidly changing field.


This blog post only scratched the surface of some of the amazing start-ups coming out of UW. These companies are proof that it is an incredibly dynamic innovation ecosystem and one that has been built on fostering revolutionary ideas. By evolving into mature businesses, they can change entire industries and make life better for millions of people. Keep tuned as we explore the rhizomatics of UW-born innovations!