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Originally published April 7, 2014 at 5:28 PM | Page modified April 7, 2014 at 6:35 PM

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Hutch biotech spinoff snags $105 million

Adaptive Biotechnologies, a Seattle startup that focuses on scouring the genetic makeup of the immune system to help fight cancer and other diseases, said Monday it has raised an eye-popping $105 million in funding to boost its research and commercial efforts.


Seattle Times business reporter

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Adaptive Biotechnologies, a Seattle startup that focuses on deciphering the building blocks of the body’s response to cancer and other illnesses, said Monday it raised an eye-popping $105 million in order to boost its research and commercial efforts.

“The magnitude of the investment really corresponds with the magnitude of the opportunity,” CEO Chad Robins said in an interview.

Adaptive, born out of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, plans to use the cash to launch a kit that will allow researchers and pharmaceutical companies to take a genetic snapshot of how a patient’s immune system responds to therapy.

Right now Adaptive’s clients can send tissue samples to the company’s Eastlake headquarters to undergo genetic sequencing. But the kit will allow researchers to do it themselves, Robins said.

The company will also invest in a product to monitor relapses in patients with some types of blood cancer, and in a tool it’s developing to detect solid tumors and gauge response to cancer immunotherapies.

The entire investment comes from Viking Global Investors, a Connecticut-based fund.

Robins said the investment will also help Adaptive transition “into a formidable organization” by building out a sales force and deepening its research. The company, which currently employs about 50, plans to nearly double in size by year-end, he said.

The funding is one of the largest rounds seen in Seattle’s often fragile biotech world.

Juno Therapeutics, another Hutch spinoff, raised a record-breaking $120 million last December and added $25 million the following month.

Adaptive emerged from an idea hatched by Hutch researchers Harlan Robins, Chris Carlson and Edus Warren. Carlson and Robins founded the company in 2009 and hired Robins’ brother Chad, a Wharton MBA graduate, to run the business. Warren remains a scientific adviser to the company.

Adaptive’s technology maps out the DNA of the immune system with the help of advanced computers, seeking to measure, among other things, how it responds to cancer and other disorders as well as to the therapies that treat them.

The applications are many: It can, for example, monitor residual levels of certain types of blood cancer cells after a chemotherapy or transplant treatment and tell doctors whether a new round is needed.

Adaptive is also testing technology to detect white blood cells that migrate into solid tumors and are believed to be a good indicator of how severe a tumor can be.

The company says research institutions ranging from the University of Cambridge to Columbia University and the Cleveland Clinic use its technology.

Ángel González: 206-464-2250 or agonzalez@seattletimes.com. On Twitter: @gonzalezseattle



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