The Jackson Laboratory, Illumina, Sinequa, And More: News From June 2017

June 29, 2017 | June featured exciting new, products, and partnerships from around the bio-IT community from innovating companies, organizations, and universities, including The Jackson Laboratory, Illumina, Sinequa, and more.

Crown Bioscience (CrownBio) and The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) announced an agreement to improve the development and accessibility of innovative research models and pre-clinical services to the global biomedical research community. The agreement between Crown Bioscience and JAX facilitates the shared objective of both organizations; to accelerate and advance the rate of pre-clinical research and discovery. Press release

Illumina and Genomics England announced that Illumina is the primary variant interpretation and reporting software vendor for tumor and matched normal samples characterized as part of the 100,000 Genomes Project. In a little over a year since Illumina announced the Bioinformatics and Clinical Interpretation Partnership with Genomics England, the partnership has now set unified standards for data and analysis practices using BaseSpace Variant Interpreter software for tumor variant review. In the coming months, Genomics England will be expanding the use of BaseSpace Variant Interpreter for cancer to all NHS Genomic Medicine Centers, and Illumina will be removing the 'Beta' status from its software offering, and formally launching it for public release later this summer. Press release

Numerate announced the formation of a multi-year agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company under which Numerate will identify and deliver multiple clinical candidates. Under the agreement, Numerate will drive discovery programs aimed at identifying clinical candidates for use in Takeda’s core therapeutic areas: oncology, gastroenterology, and central nervous system disorders. The projects will rely on Numerate leveraging its AI-driven platform, from hit finding and expansion through lead design/optimization and ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion)/toxicity modeling. Press release

Sinequa announced the addition of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to its platform. These capabilities leverage Google Vision and Translate as well as IBM Watson Alchemy for Image Recognition and Speech-to-text. These additions bolster related capabilities already in place with the existing integrations for Microsoft Azure Media Services for image and video treatment. The new AI capabilities benefit from the enormous amount of text and images available on the Web, far beyond anything a single enterprise could have available internally. Sinequa customers can now easily translate text in a large number of languages, analyze and tag images, and transcribe video conversations, enriching the Sinequa Logical Data Warehouse (LDW) with the results. Press release

Dragonfly announced a global strategic collaboration with Celgene and its affiliates to discover, develop, and commercialize innovative immuno-oncology treatment options for patients with hematological malignancies based on Dragonfly’s Natural Killer (“NK”) cell based TriNKETTM technology platform. The collaboration allows Celgene the exclusive option to in-license worldwide rights for up to four therapeutic candidates with potential utility in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia, multiple myeloma, and additional hematological malignancies. The collaboration includes a $33 million upfront payment, and potential future milestone and royalty payments. Press release

Dotmatics announced that the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) has integrated Dotmatics Elemental JavaScript sketcher into the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD). The CSD is a repository of experimentally determined organic and metal-organic crystal structures used by pharmaceutical, biotech, and materials research companies and academic institutions worldwide. This announcement is part of an improved web-based CSD structure searching interface announced today by CCDC – WebCSD v2. The structure search functionality within WebCSD v2 uses the Elemental JavaScript sketcher from Dotmatics to match exact or substructure 2D drawings with complete molecules or substructures within molecules respectively. All active CSD license holders have immediate access to the new 2D structure search features. Press release

Biodesy announced that Dominique Bridon has been appointed Chief Executive Officer and a member of the board of directors, effective immediately. Bridon brings more than 27 years of executive and scientific leadership experience to the Biodesy team. Most recently, he was Chief Development Officer at Nuritas, driving a disruptive approach to Peptide Discovery. Prior to that role, Bridon led the development of novel transporter-mediated oncology and CNS drugs at Optivia. He also held various leadership positions at Ipsen, Conjuchem, Redcell, and Abbott. Bridon has served as a Director for Enobia (acquired by Alexion) and Neuronax and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Syntaxin (acquired by Ipsen) and Biosortia. Press release

WSI announced it offers Braille capabilities, using either the TaskMaster infeed system or with a standalone unit that can be integrated into nearly any folder gluer. WSI’s Braille offerings are ideal for meeting European pharmaceutical industry packaging regulations requiring Braille embossing to identify package contents. Using the TaskMaster infeed system with Braille module, cartons are fed, aligned, embossed, and transferred to the folder gluer all in one operation – at up to 1,000 feet per minute. This space saving unit can either run offline or be put directly in front of an existing folder gluer, keeping labor and set up times at a minimum. Press release

HCL Technologies (HCL) announced its Next Generation Research Platform (NGRP), a pre-competitive drug-discovery ecosystem built with open standards. This Platform will provide research scientists with a collaborative ecosystem, greater computational resources, and the ability to mine research data to make more informed scientific decisions, while improving productivity by automating and eliminating manual administrative tasks. The NGRP is designed to alleviate the technological, economic, and administrative costs that legacy systems and aging technologies pose to pharmaceutical companies. By some estimates, large pharma companies are spending a significant amount of their IT budgets on maintaining these systems. By helping to reduce the expenses associated with legacy systems, the NGRP will free up time and budgetary resources for implementing new capabilities. The NGRP also leverages a design thinking process and journey mapping to simplify a day in the life of a scientist. The Platform allows increased collaboration, the leveraging of innovative technology, improved access to research data, and an increase in the scientist’s productivity. Press release

Twist Bioscience announced that it raised an additional $27 million in venture financing. This close, combined with the $33 million announced in March 2017, completes the $60 million financing. Twist Bioscience expects to use the funding to facilitate increased growth in the company’s core business of gene synthesis and increased investment into two vertical market segments of drug discovery and DNA digital data storage. To date, Twist Bioscience has raised a total of $191 million. Press release

Conventional real-time PCR software requires researchers to export their data into another software package for in-depth analysis. To streamline this process, Bio-Rad introduced the CFX Maestro Software as a complete workflow solution for every step of real-time PCR data analysis. CFX Maestro is the only real-time PCR instrument software that integrates statistical analysis, data visualization, and publication-ready graphics production in one platform. The program includes tools to support reference gene selection, efficiency-corrected relative normalization, data visualization (e.g., bar charts, the ability to edit and annotate graphs), statistics (e.g., t-tests and one- and two-way ANOVA), and multiplate analysis. Maestro delivers software that makes real-time PCR as painless as possible. The intuitiveness of CFX Maestro starts from the beginning with assay design, where researchers can easily set up their plate and run conditions or use a predesigned PrimePCR plate and run files that automatically set up plate and run conditions. While other systems may require scientists to set up their plates before performing a run, CFX Maestro saves time by permitting them to do so before, during, or even after a run. Press release

Human Longevity (HLI) announced that the company has signed an agreement with Merck, with the goal of pioneering the application of advanced genomics and expert analysis with machine learning to transform drug development and medical use of next generation therapeutics. As part of the agreement, the companies have started a joint pilot project to identify treatment response biomarker signatures in patients with advanced melanoma. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. In the pilot project, Merck and HLI are working together to identify treatment response biomarkers in patients with locally advanced or metastatic NRAS mutated cutaneous melanoma that preferentially respond to Merck's MEK1/2 inhibitor, pimasertib. To enable this goal, HLI is generating genomic sequencing data from clinical trial participants' tumor and germline and utilizing its machine learning and analytical tools and expertise to interpret and analyze this data in the context of survival and other clinical data. Press release

Royal Philips announced the launch of its Xplore web-based informatics platform for drug research and biomarker discovery. Part of Philips’ computational pathology portfolio, the new release marks a major upgrade for both pharma and academic researchers, as it will provide them with enhanced search capabilities, barcode support, data visualization tools, and third party image analysis vendor integration. With the aim to advance personalized medicine to benefit many, new drug and biomarker discovery increasingly depends on tissue pathology and the analysis of large volumes of tissue samples. The computational power of Xplore will enable researchers to integrate data from multiple sources including digital pathology and tissue imaging, enhancing their ability to glean critical insights into disease, identify novel biomarkers and develop companion diagnostics. Press release

Intellia Therapeutics announced that China’s State Intellectual Property Office (“SIPO”) has indicated that it will grant a patent broadly covering CRISPR/Cas9 single-guide gene editing methods and compositions.  The patent includes claims covering methods for editing DNA in non-cellular and cellular settings, including in eukaryotic cells such as human and mammalian cells. It also includes CRISPR/Cas9 composition of matter and system claims for use in any setting, including claims covering the use of CRISPR/Cas9 in producing medicines for treating disease. Press release

Vineti announced it has closed its Series A funding round from GE Ventures, Mayo Clinic Ventures, and new investors, DFJ and LifeForce Capital. The company received $13.75M in capital, which will be used to grow its team and to deliver the first cloud-based software solution to improve patient access, accelerate life-saving treatment delivery, and promote safety and regulatory compliance for individualized cell therapies. Press release

Sarepta Therapeutics and Genethon have signed a gene therapy research collaboration to jointly develop treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Genethon’s micro-dystrophin gene therapy approach can target the majority of patients with DMD. Genethon has demonstrated proof-of-concept of their micro-dystrophin program via robust gene expression in a large animal model of DMD. Under the terms of the collaboration, Genethon will be responsible for the early development work. Sarepta has the option to co-develop Genethon’s micro-dystrophin program, which includes exclusive U.S. commercial rights. Financial terms of the collaboration have not been disclosed. Press release

Immunovia announced that they have completed the analysis of the three other autoimmune diseases included in the previously reported large, retrospective autoimmune disease study, performed in collaboration with Department of Immuntechnology, Lund University. The study included 315 blood samples and covered main autoimmune indications such as, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Sjögren’s Syndrome, Systemic Vasculitis, and healthy controls. Press release

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted premarket approval to Thermo Fisher Scientific for the first next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based test that simultaneously screens tumor samples for biomarkers associated with three FDA-approved therapies for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The Oncomine Dx Target Test simultaneously evaluates 23 genes clinically associated with NSCLC. Following FDA approval, results from analysis of three of these genes can now be used to identify patients who may be eligible for treatment with one of the following: the combined therapy of Tafinlar and Mekinist, XALKORI, or IRESSA. With this test, physicians can now match patients to these therapies in days instead of several weeks, which it often takes when screening samples one biomarker at a time. Press release

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