Inslee tours AbSci on Vancouver visit

"AbSci, the biotechnology company that relocated to Vancouver in August, is bucking a statewide trend in its industry.

After hosting Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday on a tour of its new facilities, CEO Sean McClain said the company has hired four new employees since October and expects to hire a dozen more soon.

“We are meeting or exceeding expectations,” he said. “We are currently 18 employees, and we have a projection to be up to 30 employees within the next year, year and a half.”

The company’s rise contrasts with a recent report commissioned by the Washington Life Science & Global Health Advisory that found the state’s life-sciences industry is sputtering.

The February report, completed by research firm TEConomy Partners, found the industry lost 900 jobs between 2011 and 2014. The Seattle Times reported that the job loss has coincided with the expiration of research-and-development tax credits.

Inslee, who founded the advisory group that commissioned the report, said he believed that AbSci’s unique process would keep costs down and sustain its growth.

“I think the key to the success of the industry is the reduction in costs of producing a product,” he said. “That’s where AbSci is in a golden space. You’re finding these incredible advances in genetic engineering. But if the cost structure is beyond imagination, you can’t get to market.”

AbSci offers an alternative to synthetic drug manufacturing processes that have been the norm for decades. Its process uses a living organism, such as E. coli, to produce high amounts of protein that are the basis for new treatments, such as those used to make insulin..."