WGS Market Foothold, New Life Sciences Doc Management, Algorithm For Neoantigen ID, More

January 4, 2021

January 4, 2021 | Illumina and Harvard Pilgrim announce risk sharing for whole genome sequencing, new cryo-EM from Thermo Fisher, LSBio acquires Absolute Antibody, Presearch digitizes hand-written lab notes, and more.


Illumina and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care have announced a risk-sharing agreement to make whole-genome sequencing (WGS) available to certain Harvard Pilgrim members, effective January 1, 2021. The program will leverage WGS to support faster diagnoses of genetic diseases in children, potentially eliminating the long, costly diagnostic odyssey experienced by many families, with the goal of improving patient outcomes. Through this agreement, Harvard Pilgrim and Illumina will work together to evaluate how insurance coverage of WGS impacts patient care and healthcare costs. To date, there are more than 20 peer-reviewed publications demonstrating the clinical utility of WGS in over 3,000 patients with suspected genetic diseases. Health economic models predict that implementing WGS earlier in the diagnostic workup is likely to be cost-neutral or even save payers money. During the term of the agreement, Harvard Pilgrim will cover WGS, through their network of lab providers, for pediatric patients meeting specific criteria. Illumina and Harvard Pilgrim will share the risk on genetic testing costs. Achieving a rapid diagnosis will prove most valuable for all—ending uncertainty for patient families and potentially halting unnecessary spending on the clinical side. Together, Harvard Pilgrim and Illumina will analyze the data, adjudicate the financials, and prepare a peer-reviewed study for publication. Press release

Insilico Medicine has entered into a research collaboration with APRINOIA Therapeutics to use Insilico's novel generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology to accelerate the discovery of next generation compounds targeting abnormal proteins in brain associated with neurodegenerative diseases. By leveraging an integrated AI-driven drug discovery approach, Insilico Medicine provides APRINOIA Therapeutics with an effective, rational, external auxiliary solution for driving programs forward. The partnership between APRINOIA and Insilico will include an upfront fee and performance-based milestones that were not specified. Press release.

Thermo Fisher Scientific has released the Tundra Cryo Transmission Electron Microscope (Cryo-TEM), a groundbreaking instrument that extends cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to more scientists by delivering industry-leading ease of use at an affordable price. The Tundra uses artificial intelligence (AI), guided automation and new loader technology to dramatically simplify the microscope’s use, extending cryo-EM to researchers of any experience level. The integrated cryo-loading station replaces previous manual manipulation, enabling quick, effortless and robust sample loading and transfer to the microscope for immediate assessment and structure determination. Tundra also delivers a compact footprint that fits most of today’s standard-sized labs, eliminating the need for potential renovations. In addition, it’s offered at a lower price-point, making it possible for more institutions and pharmaceutical companies to obtain structural insights at a biologically relevant resolution. Press release.

Cresset has released Spark V10.6. This release of the scaffold hopping and bioisostere replacement solution further supports the exploration of new chemical space through new and improved search methods to generate innovative ideas for drug discovery projects. A new docking feature enables medicinal and computational chemists to find novel results not mapped by an existing starter or reference molecule. Press release.

Australian clinical-stage drug development company Noxopharm has joined with Bristol Myers Squibb in an Australian pilot study investigating the ability of Noxopharm’s immunotherapy drug candidate, Veyonda, to overcome resistance to Bristol Myers Squibb’s nivolumab (Opdivo) in the treatment of cancer. Veyonda is a first-in-class sphingosine-1-phosphate inhibitor with high selectivity for cancer cells. This mechanism of action yields a range of immunotherapeutic effects including restoration of immune function in tumors, commonly referred to as converting tumors from cold to hot. The study, called IONIC-1, will investigate the ability of Veyonda to sensitize tumors to the PD-1 inhibiting actions of Opdivo. Approximately 30 cancer patients (e.g., melanoma, lung, and bladder cancers) will be involved, including those who have progressed on Opdivo, as well as Opdivo-naive patients (e.g., breast, ovarian, prostate cancers and sarcoma). It is anticipated that the first patients will be recruited early in the new year. Press release.

PerkinElmer has introduced the LC 300TM platform and SimplicityChrom software, bringing together advanced high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) capabilities with intuitive instrument control and data analysis. Designed to deliver ultraprecise gradient flows and low levels of dispersion, the new LC 300 system delivers fast and accurate results for customers across the food, cannabis, pharmaceutical and chemical arenas. The LC 300 system’s autosampler features a built-in column oven and high-visibility, color LCD screen displaying key status results without having to log into chromatography data system (CDS) software. The versatile platform features multiple detector options and third-party driver support for commercially available CDS systems. The accompanying PerkinElmer SimplicityChrom CDS software was architected after performing extensive user experience and interface research. It delivers highly intuitive and customizable workflows aimed at enhancing productivity and streamlining result analysis. The software provides the tools needed to ensure 21 CFR Part 11 compliance, helping save time, effort and investment. Proactive alerts on consumable usage and required maintenance are also included for minimal downtime. Press release

San Francisco Otolaryngology has selected the 2bPrecise platform as the foundation for its precision medicine strategy, beginning with pharmacogenomics (PGx) and potentially expanding to additional genetic/genomic testing. The practice’s initial focus will be to introduce PGx to a cohort of patients participating in a multidisciplinary clinical program addressing issues related to aging. With five locations, SF Otolaryngology has delivered comprehensive care for sinus, thyroid and other ear/nose/throat (ENT) conditions since 1940. Its physicians also hold academic appointments at the University of California, San Francisco. 2bPrecise consumes genetic/genomic data from molecular labs and clinical information from EHRs. It synthesizes these elements into a clinical-genomic ontology and brings the resulting insights into the provider’s workflow to support timely clinical decisions. In selecting 2bPrecise, SF Otolaryngology saw an opportunity to apply the benefits of genomic science in a practical setting, beyond the academic medical community. Press release. 

LSBio has acquired UK-based Absolute Antibody and its sister company Kerafast. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. LSBio provides a catalog of more than 750,000 IHC-validated reagent antibodies, assay kits, proteins, and biochemicals reagent antibodies and services to the global community of academic, pharmaceutical, and biotech researchers. Absolute Antibody specializes in recombinant antibody technology, offering antibody sequencing, engineering and recombinant production as custom services, as well as a unique catalog of recombinant antibodies and Fc Fusion proteins, engineered into new and useful formats. In 2018, Absolute Antibody merged with Kerafast Inc., a Boston-based company that facilitates access to unique laboratory-made reagents, to further the availability of recombinant antibodies. The new acquisition combines a strong recombinant antibody portfolio with LSBio’s expertise in application-specific validation to make sequence-defined, reproducible antibodies more widely available for IHC and other key research applications. 

WorldQuant Predictive, the leader in quantitative AI-based predictions for companies and other organizations, has joined The Pistoia Alliance. There are currently more than 150 members of The Pistoia Alliance, ranging from global organizations, medium enterprises, start-ups, and individuals—all collaborating as equals on projects that generate value for those in the life sciences space. WorldQuant Predictive’s platform allows organizations to create and apply predictive solutions to large pools of third-party data without handing over proprietary assets, protecting both the data and patients’ privacy. The Pistoia Alliance’s projects help to overcome common obstacles to innovation and to transform R&D—whether identifying the root causes of inefficiencies, working with regulators to adopt new standards, or helping researchers implement AI effectively. Press release

Optibrium has extended its industry placement student program to a fifth year, welcoming this year’s placement student from The University of St Andrews. The program offers up to two student placements each year, supporting the education of the next generation of scientists and contributing to a strong foundation for future drug discovery. The successes of placement students at Optibrium have seen them present at international scientific conferences, publish their work in leading journals, and contribute cutting-edge scientific developments to Optibrium’s software. Press release.

While the rest of the world has embraced online collaboration, labs continue to rely on physical notebooks and in-person meetings which leads to irreproducibility, poor information sharing, bad documentation, slow learning cycles, and ultimately — to bad science. With Presearch, scientists can continue to take notes the way they are used to—by hand—then digitize, transcribe, and categorize their paper lab notes for search and online collaboration. The Electronic Lab Journal does not replace, but augments pen and paper for more organized record-keeping and searchability. More information.

AbbVie is leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) for research translation, improving collaboration and search capabilities to enable the discovery of new treatments for patients through Abbelfish Machine Translation and AbbVie Search. With 47,000 employees around the world, AbbVie’s researchers need to be able to access critical data in a variety of languages. Commercially available language translation services failed to provide the most accurate translations for their highly domain-specific biomedical text, making it difficult to collaborate and ensure access to the latest research—a challenge felt across the research industry by researchers who speak English as a second language. Abbelfish Machine Translation is a language translation service originally designed for German to English translation, which has expanded to include Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Japanese. Over one million texts are translated each year with the Abbelfish service, using up to 10 concurrent translations per minute. Press release.

Thermo Fisher Scientific has launched 500 L HyPerforma DynaDrive single-use bioreactor (S.U.B.) for cell culture production. The HyPerforma DynaDrive Single Use Bioreactor (S.U.B.) delivers improved performance and scalability for larger volume cell culture processes. After launching a 50 L DynaDrive S.U.B in September 2020, Thermo Fisher has released the next-in-class size DynaDrive S.U.B. with capacity of 500 L. The DynaDrive S.U.B. offers superior scale and power compared to other solutions available, while also reducing capital investment and operational expenses due to reduced seed-train and scale-up processes. The unique shape of the unit and BPC, the design of the impeller, sparging approach and the improved sensor technology are just a few of the features that were redesigned in order to optimize mixing dynamics, scale, and performance. Press release.

Personalis has launched its Systematic HLA Epitope Ranking Pan Algorithm (SHERPA), the company’s proprietary, machine learning-based tool for the comprehensive identification and characterization of cancer neoantigens. Integrated into the Personalis NeXT Platform, SHERPA enables the development of new neoantigen-based diagnostic biomarkers, such as the company’s proprietary Neoantigen Presentation Score (NEOPS), and novel personalized therapies. While most conventional in silico methods generally only assess the potential MHC-binding affinity and stability of identified peptides, SHERPA goes a step further by incorporating features relating to the antigen processing machinery and RNA abundance to generate a presentation rank for each detected peptide. This serves to determine the relative likelihood of a given neoantigen being presented and undergoing immunosurveillance. Press release.

AODocs has announced the latest edition of AODocs for Life Sciences, a modern cloud-native quality management solution (QMS) designed to accelerate the delivery of business solutions for FDA-regulated companies. With this new update, AODocs for Life Sciences delivers enhanced capabilities for document control, change management, training and acknowledgement, management of corrective and preventative actions (CAPAs), and audit management. The latest release also features capabilities for managing non-conformities, customer complaints, governance and retention, reporting and analytics, and more. AODocs for Life Sciences is a QMS that medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and other research organizations can leverage to confidently build and administer their quality program, reduce the cost of computer system validation & assurance (CSV&A), and provide traceability during audits. The AODocs QMS framework, which is based on ISO 9001:2015, GAMP5, ASTM E2500, FDA 21 CFR Part 11, and EudraLex Annex 11, enables enterprises to deliver managed services that meets and exceeds the expectations of regulatory agencies in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Press release.