Q-State, LUCA Biologics, AskBio, And More: News From August 2019

August 29, 2019

August 29, 2019 | August featured exciting new, products, and partnerships from around the bio-IT community from innovating companies, organizations, and universities, including Q-State, LUCA Biologics, AskBio, and more.

Q-State Biosciences and 2bPrecise will partner to build robust clinical-genomic datasets enabling healthcare providers to better leverage precision medicine when treating patients with genetic conditions. The collaboration will facilitate the advance of novel insights that health systems can incorporate to improve clinical practice and that pharmaceutical companies can use in the development of new therapies. The partnership – backed by 2bPrecise parent company Allscripts Healthcare Solutions – will combine 2bPrecise’s cloud-based, EHR-independent platform that brings genomic data into the clinical workflow with Q-State’s whole-genome and whole-exome sequencing, transcriptomics and leading functional phenotyping capabilities. The collaboration will benefit patients and care organizations by supporting improved diagnostic yields and patient outcomes, and by providing clinical tools to help match patients with precise therapies based on their health attributes and genetic profile. Likewise, it will help pharmaceutical firms accelerate therapeutic discovery through the identification of novel disease targets, stratification of patient populations and expedited clinical-trial recruitment paths. Press release

LUCA Biologics announced it will develop live biotherapeutics for widespread, unmet medical needs in women's health. Jacques Ravel will serve as LUCA's Chief Scientist. The company's first therapeutic targets urinary tract infection (UTI), estimated by the World Health Organization to impact half of women globally, and is the most common bacterial infection in the United States. FDA trials are anticipated to be led by Harvard Medical School faculty and conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital. Patient recruitment will begin this fall. "We have an unparalleled opportunity to make a true impact in women's health and translate breakthroughs in microbiome science into innovative therapeutics," said Luba Greenwood, LUCA co-founder and board member, in a press release. "We are targeting areas of high unmet medical needs to revolutionize treatment for often poorly treated conditions that affect millions of women across the world." Press release

AskBio has acquired Synpromics, the leader in gene control synthetic promoter technology, bioinformatics and intelligent data-driven design that enables more precise cell targeting and gene expression. Synpromics will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary and remain headquartered in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. "By combining Synpromics's customized synthetic promoters with AskBio's capsids and Pro10 manufacturing cell line, we have achieved technical leadership in each of the critical components for successful development of rAAV-based therapeutics," said Sheila Mikhail, CEO and co-founder of AskBio, in a press release. "With the Synpromics acquisition, we have enhanced our collective ability to develop highly targeted and maximally expressed gene therapies. Today AskBio is better positioned to tackle larger pathway diseases, as we continue our efforts to bring curative therapies for rare disease to patients in need." AskBio's AAV technology, capsid library, proprietary manufacturing systems and multi-dimensional gene therapy platform combined with Synpromics' promoter and bioinformatics technology create a powerful opportunity to more accurately target complex diseases and improve the efficacy of AAV gene therapy vectors. Both companies will continue to operate as separate entities but will share intellectual property with immediate plans to integrate Synpromics' technology with AskBio's AAV platform ecosystem and current therapeutics portfolio under development. This places AskBio in a unique position to be one of the only companies in the industry with a comprehensive end-to-end AAV gene therapy platform. Press release

SK hynix announced the launch of its "Gold S31" solid-state drive (SSD). Gold S31 (SATA III – first generation) is the first of the Company's new SuperCore series of consumer SSDs, an internal drive lineup based on SK hynix's core technology. With its speed and reliability, SK hynix's Gold S31 will be a perfect choice for all PC users, particularly for gamers, designers, and content creators. Gold S31 pushes the limits on high-performance SSDs, providing users the next level of speed with sequential read speeds up to 560MB/s, as well as superior quality, reliability, and five-year warranty. The 2.5-inch drive supports the SATA III interface based on 3D NAND Flash technology, and is now available in 1TB, 500GB and 250GB capacities on Amazon US. All key components in Gold S31, from NAND Flash and built-in controller to DRAM and firmware, were designed and produced by SK hynix. The in-house components are built for robust performance and reliability. Gold S31 will be offered exclusively on Amazon US this year, but is expected to expand to other North American and European markets starting next year, when a PCIe version of the SSD can also be expected. Press release

Fujifilm announced that it has completed the acquisition of Biogen Manufacturing ApS, a large-scale biologics manufacturing site located in Hillerød near Copenhagen, Denmark from Biogen. Fujifilm invested approximately US$890 million in cash for the transaction. With the closing of this transaction, the Hillerød Manufacturing site is now the fourth biopharmaceutical manufacturing site of FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, a subsidiary of Fujifilm and a leading Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization ("CDMO") with expertise in the development and manufacture of biologics and advanced therapies. Hillerød Manufacturing will change its name to FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies Denmark ApS once all regulatory procedures are complete. The new site consists of a campus hosting a large-scale production facility equipped with 6 x 15,000L bioreactors for the manufacture of cell culture derived biologics for clinical and commercial use. There are close to 800 employees in the Hillerød campus which also houses an assembly, labeling and packaging facility, quality control laboratories and warehouses. The products which were manufactured under Biogen at the site will continue to be supplied by Hillerød Manufacturing under Fujifilm ownership. Press release

Cellink announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Cytena for €30.3 million ($33.8 million) in cash and stock. Cytena, which was spun out of the University of Freiburg's Institute for Microsystems Technology in 2014, has developed a printer technology that allows users to isolate and dispense single cells for genomics research and clonal cell line development for biopharmaceutical production. Earlier this year, the company closed a €3 million Series A financing round. According to Boston-based Cellink, the acquisition will complement its portfolio of bioink, bioprinters, rapid dispensers, and live cell imaging systems for creating and tracking human tissues and 3D cell culture models. Under the terms of the deal, Cellink will acquire Cytena for €11.4 million in cash and 674,678 newly issued shares valued at €18.9 million. The transaction will give Cytena's shareholders a roughly 5% voting stake in Cellink and about 7% of the firm's share capital. Following the acquisition, Cytena will retain its current management. Press release

With gifts totaling $35 million from Marc and Lynne Benioff, UC San Francisco and Stanford University are launching new research initiatives on their respective campuses to leverage the growing science of the human microbiome. The efforts aim to develop microbe-based diagnostics and precision therapies for diseases ranging from allergy and asthma to inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis. UCSF will receive $25 million to launch the UCSF Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine, which will be led by Susan Lynch, a professor of medicine at UCSF, founding director of the UCSF Microbiome Research Core and associate director of the UCSF Microbiome in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research Program. Stanford will receive $10 million for the Stanford Microbiome Therapies Initiative (MITI), which is being led by Michael Fischbach, an associate professor of bioengineering and an Institute Scholar of Stanford ChEM-H. Philanthropists Mark and Debra Leslie have provided an additional $7 million to bring Stanford closer to its overall goal for the initiative. Press release

Evaluate released its latest data breakthrough, Product Specific PTRS, as part of its commitment to transforming the way biopharma companies and their advisors manage the risks of novel drug development. Product Specific PTRS (probability of technical and regulatory success) is the first fully transparent, product-level assessment of the likelihood a drug will reach the market. Covering all NMEs and NDAs currently in clinical development, Product Specific PTRS combines a machine learning platform with an analysis of over 50 drug, company and market attributes and 30,000+ historic phase transitions. As a result, Product Specific PTRS predicts a drug’s probability of success based on its individual characteristics, substantially improving on the accuracy of general industry or indication success rate benchmarks. "Machine-learning models offer unprecedented accuracy, given the high number of attributes they can factor into their calculations," Jon Moser, Head of Product Development, said in a press release. "However, they lack the transparency needed by biopharma executives to evaluate the drivers of risk. Our unique model combines the accuracy of machine learning with a detailed breakdown of the product-level attributes that improve or degrade a product’s risk profile." Press release

Olympus has launched its first Global Image of the Year Life Science Light Microscopy Award, recognizing the best in life science imaging worldwide. Participants can win a CX43 microscope with a DP27 digital camera, X Line objectives, or an OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera. Those interested in participating can enter through Jan. 31, 2020 by uploading images at Olympus-LifeScience.com/IOTY. Winners will be selected by a jury panel and announced in March 2020. The jury consists of global representatives from both science and the arts, including photographer Ron Caplain; Geoff Williams, a bioimaging facility manager at Brown University; Urs Ziegler, the head of a microscopy imaging facility at the University of Zurich; Stefan Terjung, the operational manager of an advanced light microscopy facility at EMBL Heidelberg; Hiroaki Misono, a graduate school professor of brain science at Doshisha University; Zhu Xueliang, a professor at the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Yalin Wang, Director of Biomedical Research Core Facilities at Westlake University, Hangzhou, China; and Wendy Salmon, a light microscopy specialist of a bioimaging facility at MIT. Press release

Microway announced it has provided a NVIDIA DGX-2 supercomputer to Clemson University. The NVIDIA DGX-2 delivers industry-leading 2 petaFLOPS of AI deep learning performance. The system harnesses the power of 16 NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs, fully interconnected with the enhanced-bandwidth NVIDIA NVLink interface to boost the speed of deep learning training. Clemson University’s DGX-2 will empower researchers in disciplines such as computational math, statistics, operations research, and mechanical and industrial engineering to analyze vast datasets with exceptional ease. Initial projects include research on medical imaging, drone control, autonomous driving, and ocean dynamics. The resource will be available to all faculty, staff, and students. Press release

Biofourmis has added two global pharmaceutical senior executive veterans to its executive team to guide the company's worldwide expansion across the pharmaceutical, managed care, healthcare provider and medical technology markets. John Varaklis, who has more than 25 years' experience at Roche, Abbott and Novartis, has been appointed as Biofourmis' Chief Strategy Officer. Peter Braun, whose pharma experience includes 28 years at Roche, has been named Biofourmis' Chief Commercial Officer. Both leaders have extensive experience developing and growing multibillion-dollar products across global markets, including all aspects of clinical research, business development and new market creation. Press release

HiFiBiO Therapeutics announced the completion of a $67 Million Series C financing round. The funding was led by new investor IDG Capital. The existing shareholders Sequoia Capital ChinaVI Ventures, Legend Star Capital, and LYFE Capital continued to invest. New investors Delian CapitalHanne Capital, and Kite, a Gilead Company, also supported this round. HiFiBiO Therapeutics will use the proceeds from the financing to expand its platform efforts and accelerate the development of its novel antibody drug pipeline to treat cancer and autoimmune disorders. The company, which integrates deep-rooted biological expertise with comprehensive single-cell profiling technologies, expects to have multiple drug candidates advance to the clinical trial phase. HiFiBiO Therapeutics leverages its unique immune profiling platform and Drug Intelligent Science (DIS) to target more precise patient subsets and enhance the probability of success, while reducing overall time and costs. Press release