PAREXEL, Vanderbilt University, Boehringer Ingelheim, And More: News From March 2018

March 28, 2018

March 28, 2018 | March featured exciting new, products, and partnerships from around the bio-IT community from innovating companies, organizations, and universities, including PAREXEL, Vanderbilt University, Boehringer Ingelheim, and more.

PAREXEL announced the appointment of Jamie Macdonald as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective March 15, 2018. Josef von Rickenbach, who co-founded the Company, will retire from his daily CEO duties and continue as Chairman of the Board. “It is a tremendous honor for me to join PAREXEL,” said Jamie Macdonald in a press release. “As a trail blazer in the biopharmaceutical services industry, the Company enjoys well-deserved recognition as having the kind of deep therapeutic and functional expertise, global reach and innovative capability to continue its leadership. Joe carefully crafted and nurtured an entrepreneurial spirit that is well established, and his role in the development of the industry cannot be overstated. I am humbled to have the opportunity to build on this legacy and look forward to continued growth and excellence for PAREXEL.” Macdonald led INC Research, now known as Syneos Health, for several years first as CEO and most recently as Vice Chairman. “When we started PAREXEL more than 35 years ago, not only was it the beginning of a new company, it was also the dawn of a new industry,” von Rickenbach said in a written statement following the announcement. “Today, a new era begins. The biopharmaceutical services industry is more dynamic and exciting than ever, and Jamie is the right leader to take PAREXEL into the future. I am confident that our next generation will be an even greater one and I am delighted to have him join the Company. I look forward to working with Jamie to continue PAREXEL’s leadership in the marketplace.” A native of Scotland, Macdonald has held several global positions throughout his career. He will be based at PAREXEL’s corporate headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts. Press Release

Boehringer Ingelheim and Vanderbilt University announced the expansion of their successful existing collaboration to develop novel anti-cancer compounds. The expanded research partnership will focus on the discovery and development of new chemical therapeutics targeting the pro-survival protein MCL1 as a potential therapy against MCL1-dependent cancers. This is the third collaboration between Boehringer Ingelheim and Vanderbilt University to pursue discoveries made in the laboratory of Stephen W. Fesik, Orrin H. Ingram II Professor of Cancer Research, at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Boehringer Ingelheim and Vanderbilt University have the expertise and are jointly focused on discovering breakthrough medicines against the cancer-causing proteins KRAS, SOS and now, MCL1,” said Darryl McConnell, Vice President and Research Site Head, Boehringer Ingelheim, Austria, in a press release. “Together, we are committed to driving scientific research and development forward to help patients win the fight against cancer.” MCL1, when overexpressed, can prevent cancer cells from undergoing programmed cell death (also known as apoptosis). This necessitates the discovery of a molecule that binds extremely tightly and selectively to MCL1 in order to sufficiently induce on-target, mechanism-based cancer cell death. “Boehringer Ingelheim has an outstanding oncology drug discovery infrastructure that brings various research and development groups together to tackle challenging cancer targets,” said Fesik, Professor of Biochemistry, Pharmacology, and Chemistry at Vanderbilt, in a statement following the announcement. “In combination with our multidisciplinary team of structural biologists, medicinal chemists and cell biologists, we will work to search for anti-cancer compounds that inhibit MCL1 in order to tackle this complex area of unmet medical need.” Press Release

Sapio Sciences announced the release of Exemplar LIMS/ELN X, the most feature rich release in Sapio's history, including features to enable high levels of data representations, analysis and visualizations. Exemplar X also introduces the Exemplar Rules Engine to enable more rapid implementation of complex requirements with zero programming. Perhaps the most significant item in Exemplar X is that Sapio has introduced a new class of ELN: Exemplar ELN Pro. Exemplar ELN Pro combines the best of traditional ELN capabilities to support scientists with their ad hoc experimentation, while now also leveraging Sapio's 10+ years of experience in tracking complex workflows to also enable what are traditionally considered LIMS features, including but not limited to, all of the following:

  • Drag and Drop Creation of Workflow Templates
  • Easy Creation and Tracking of Complex Templatized Processes
  • R Statistics Integration
  • MS Office™ Integration
  • Request Management & Integrated Sample Registration System
  • Consumable, Instrument and Storage Management
  • Complete NGS Pipeline out of the box
  • Interactive Work Queue Dashboard
  • Graphical Dashboards for Tracking Lab Operational Metrics like Turnaround Times
  • Integrated Dashboard Builder
  • SaaS Hosted and On-Premise Options Available

With Exemplar X Sapio is also introducing Exemplar ELN Essentials. This is an entry level lab notebook for companies not yet needing the capabilities and costs of a full blown ELN solution.  Exemplar ELN Essentials is offered primarily as a SaaS solution with credit card based, monthly billing.  A free evaluation of ELN Essentials can also be accessed online via the Sapio website. Press Release

Shivom announced a major partnership with molecular diagnostics company Genetic Technologies (GTG) that is expected to accelerate the prediction of cancer for millions of individuals worldwide. GTG, whose lead product is BREVAGenplus - a clinically validated risk assessment test for non-hereditary breast cancer and a first in its class - is at the forefront of preventive medicine. However, while collecting data to develop the BREVAGenplus tests has to date taken over 7 years, the company’s partnership with Shivom will massively reduce such timelines. Shivom’s blockchain-enabled healthcare platform, which aims to become the largest unique genomic & healthcare data-hub on the planet, puts ownership of genome data back into the hands of individuals. Via its ‘first of a kind’ Global Genome ID, Shivom aims to revolutionize preventative healthcare, as well as how cures to 7,000 rare genetic diseases are discovered. By partnering with GTG, Shivom is tapping into a rich history of research investment and transformative personalized healthcare services. The Molecular Diagnostics company has already spent a significant amount of funds on research and, by working with Shivom’s huge database of genomics data, will be able to identify cancer risks and other diseases much more quickly than was previously possible. Press Release

Mauna Kea Technologies announced the decision by the Korean Center for New Health Technology to grant Cellvizio New Health Technology status. This status recognizes confocal laser endomicroscopy as a “safe and effective method that can help identify cancerous lesions and biopsy locations for patients with suspicion of dysplasia of the esophagus, stomach, and strictures in the bile ducts”. Further, it enables Cellvizio to be eligible for specific reimbursement codes for procedures in South Korea, the third largest imaging market in Asia. “This important recognition from NECA demonstrates the distinct clinical and innovative benefits of Cellvizio for improving care of patients suffering from esophageal, gastric and biliary diseases,” Sacha Loiseau, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mauna Kea Technologies, said in a press release. “Furthermore, the decision represents a major step toward securing reimbursement of Cellvizio in South Korea, which would enable access to confocal laser endomicroscopy for a large patient population. We also see this decision as a clear sign that Cellvizio is becoming a standard of care for GI applications on a global basis.” Press Release

A Tennessee laboratory has launched an innovative new blood test that uses RNA analysis to diagnose patients with fibromyalgia. IQuityLabs says its test – called IsolateFibromyalgia – can identify fibromyalgia within a week and with over 90 percent accuracy. The test costs $599. “When we look at RNA in blood, we’re looking at a snapshot of what’s actually taking place at that moment inside the patient’s blood cells,” explained Chase Spurlock, CEO of IQuity. “Using that information, we can decipher those molecular communication patterns, those RNA signals that are taking place, and figure out does it look like fibromyalgia syndrome or does it look like something else? “In the case of fibromyalgia, we completed our clinical validation studies and our accuracy is at 94% and the sensitivity and specificity are greater than 90% as well. So, it’s a highly actionable test.” Full Article

Opentrons announced the launch of its newest lab robot, OT-2 and new no-code Protocol Designer. The OT-2 release is supported by the close of a $10M seed funding round, led by Khosla Ventures with participation from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Y Combinator Continuity Fund, and Jeff Kindler, former CEO of Pfizer. Biologists are poised to solve some of the world’s most significant problems, yet up to 90% of them still run experiments manually because cost and complexity prohibit their access to automation. Opentrons believes lab automation should be affordable, customizable, and easy to use. Starting with its lab robots that automate hundreds of applications with the speed and accuracy of tools 10 times the price, the company aims to free biologists from the tedious and error-prone process of manual pipetting to speed up scientific discovery and progress. Opentrons has doubled its customer base and employee headcount every six months since founding, and today hundreds of scientists and institutions use Opentrons, including 70% of the top 10 largest pharma companies and 90 percent of the top 50 biology research universities. Fundraising has supported the development of OT-2 robots, and will be used to maintain this pace of customer and company growth. Press Release

Dotmatics announced that it has appointed Gordon McCall as chief financial officer. McCall had been serving as interim CFO while in his previous position as an associate director of Craig Corporate, a specialist financial consultancy firm based in Glasgow. “Gordon has already proven that he is a valuable member of the Dotmatics executive team, and we welcome him to this appointment," said Alastair Hill, Dotmatics' director and chief technical officer, in a press release. "Gordon’s broad background in accounting and business consulting will benefit Dotmatics as we expand our product portfolio and grow the company across geographies." Prior to Craig Corporate, Gordon served as a finance business partner at Texas Instruments' manufacturing plant in Greenock, where he was a member of the U.K. finance team responsible for facilities improvement, financial modeling, accounting and taxation. He also worked as a decision support manager at Royal Bank of Scotland. McCall is a chartered accountant and holds a 1st class, accountancy degree from the University of Glasgow. Press Release