Much like other emerging tech hubs such as Atlanta and Philadelphia, Portland is diving headfirst into the biotech scene. According to the Oregon Bioscience Association, the city’s biotech community boasts a total economic output of $10.7 billion, while its employee base stretches over 47,000. Evidently, Portland’s life sciences sector leads the state in job growth, further bolstering its burgeoning tech ecosystem.
Many of Portland’s life sciences organizations are leading the charge against global health issues such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Whether they’re developing new cancer therapies or discovering new ways to treat patients suffering from PTSD, the city’s biotech companies are busy invoking change in a broad range of areas. On the other hand, one Portland company is aiming to change how underserved populations diagnose diseases, while another is finding new ways to make clean water more accessible. Portland’s biotech landscape is undoubtedly diverse, serving as a reflection of the city’s commitment to address major societal issues on both a local and global level. These 15 biotech companies in Portland represent the city’s push towards a healthier, more inclusive world.
Biotech Companies in Portland to Know
- PDX Pharmaceuticals
- Nobilis Therapeutics
- Hemex Health
- Sedia Biosciences
- Veana Therapeutics
- Sparrow Pharmaceuticals
- Chemica Technologies
Focus: Cancer Therapeutics
What they do: PDX Pharmaceuticals focuses on the development of chemically modified nanomaterials into cancer therapeutics. The company’s cancer vaccine pipeline is designed to utilize patients’ own tumors in an effort to generate whole-body anti-tumor immune effects. PDX Pharmaceuticals is currently focusing on discovering new treatment options for breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer in addition to fibrosis and hyperphosphatemia.
Focus: Cancer Immunotherapeutics
What they do: UbiVac is dedicated to researching and developing therapeutic vaccines to combat cancer. The company’s technology is intended to induce or boost immunity against a broad spectrum of cancer targets, making it harder for cancer cells to escape immune detection and elimination. UbiVac’s lead product, DPV-001, is a DC-targeted complex vaccine/combination immunotherapy currently undergoing a Phase 11 clinical trial for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.
Focus: Medical + Environmental Products
What they do: Chemica Technologies aims to develop medical and environmental products utilizing surface and material chemistry. The company is currently developing absorbents to remove inorganic and organic contaminants from drinking water, which will be suitable for a wide range of drinking water applications like faucet filters and portable water bottles. Chemica Technologies is also in the process of creating a dialysis system and a lightweight hemodialysis machine in an effort to improve the lives of patients suffering from end stage renal disease (ESRD).
Focus: Psychiatric + Neurodegenerative Diseases Treatment
What they do: Nobilis Therapeutics is dedicated to developing treatment therapies for psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases using noble gases. The company is currently researching the therapeutic potential of NBTX-001, an active ingredient found in the noble gas xenon, which has been shown to reduce the effects of PTSD and anxiety. Nobilis Therapeutics has also created an inhalation device called Zephyrus that is designed to administer NBTX-001.
Focus: Cancer Therapeutics
What they do: AgonOx focuses on creating immune systems activators for use in cancer therapy. The company seeks to identify new immunotherapy targets through understanding the complexity of human tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) from different tumor types. This research ultimately enables the team at AgonOx to design and develop recombinant proteins, antibodies and small molecules that block and/or activate novel immune-specific pathways.
What they do: Aronora is dedicated to the early-stage commercial development of proprietary biologic therapeutics. The company delivers products designed to reduce the progression and growth of blood clots without the bleeding side effects often accompanied by antithrombotic drugs. Aronora currently focuses on targeting diseases and indications such as stroke and heart attack, transient ischemic attack (TIA) and pulmonary thrombo-embolism from deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Focus: Malaria + Sickle Cell Disease Diagnosis
What they do: Hemex Health is dedicated to developing cost-effective, intuitive devices for underserved populations. The company’s diagnostic platform, Gazelle, is intended to quickly and easily diagnose malaria and sickle cell disease from a single drop of blood. Hemex Health aims to solve major needs in global health through the creation of low-cost technologies.
Focus: Hemp + Cannabis Genetics
What they do: Phylos develops genetic products and tools with the intention of helping hemp and cannabis farmers increase their productivity and bottom line. The company’s genotype test provides insight into plants’ identical clone matches, their relation to other varieties and their breeding potential. Phylos also offers a database of genetic insights that features thousands of heritage and modern varieties from around the world.
Focus: Disease Diagnosis + Monitoring
What they do: Sedia Biosciences develops, manufactures and licenses various types of medical devices. The company’s expertise includes rapid point-of-care diagnostic assays, epidemiological disease surveillance and monitoring, and clinical specimen collection devices. Sedia Biosciences is guided by the aim to improve access to medical care around the world.
Focus: Cushing’s Syndrome Treatment
What they do: Sparrow Pharmaceuticals specializes in developing new drug treatments for Cushing’s syndrome. The company is working on a series of next-generation steroids, which are intended to be used as convenient and cost-effective medicines for patients with autoimmune diseases. Sparrow Pharmaceutical’s pipeline is currently led by a late-stage product designed to treat endogenous Cushing’s and a Phase II product to treat exogenous Cushing’s.
Focus: Cancer Immunotherapies
What they do: Founded by Dr. Emmanuel Akporiaye, Veana Therapeutics aims to deliver safer, more effective cancer immunotherapies. The company’s Veana Immune Modulator is designed to stimulate programmed cell death (apoptosis) and “immunogenic cell death” at doses that are not toxic to other cells, which ultimately stimulates cells of the immune system to exhibit anti-cancer activity. Veana Therapeutics’ platform is intended to be combined with other forms of immunotherapy.
What they do: Paragon BioTeck focuses on the development and commercialization of ophthalmic pharmaceuticals, devices and therapies. The company offers a variety of products including over the counter and prescription solutions for the diagnosis, management and treatment of conditions such as dry eye and eyelid hygiene. Paragon BioTeck’s ultimate aim is to create positive change for physicians and their patients.
Focus: Wound Care Solutions
What they do: Tricol Biomedical aims to achieve zero preventable deaths due to blood loss through its proprietary material and technology. The company specializes in delivering hemostatic and wound care solutions, which are intended to address the needs of healthcare professionals, military medics, paramedics, first responders and consumers. Tricol Biomedical’s mission is to supply dressings with antibacterial and rapid clotting properties for people worldwide suffering from surgical, trauma or wound management.
Focus: Arrhythmia + Heart Failure Treatment
What they do: Elex Biotech is dedicated to the development of new chemical entities (NCEs) for treating arrhythmia and heart failure. The company has generated NCEs that stabilize mutant or dysfunctional Ryanodine receptor type 2 (RyR2), which regulates the strength and frequency of heart muscle contractions. Elex Biotech is mainly focused on the treatment of catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), a disease that accounts for about 15 percent of sudden cardiac death in young children.
Focus: Solid-State Illumination Systems
What they do: Located in nearby Beaverton, Lumencor manufactures and markets solid-state light engines that facilitate imaging and photometric analysis. Backed by expertise in analytical chemistry, materials science, solid-state physics, optics and engineering, the company offers a variety of solutions with the intention of supporting researchers, clinicians and manufacturers. Lumencor’s products can be applied to areas like endoscopy, cytogenetics, optogenetics and digital pathology.