Bristol Myers Squibb’s AI Pathology Models, New Discovery Cohort for Parkinson’s Disease, More

August 31, 2022

August 31, 2022 | A new gene-editing technology center opens in Pittsburgh; phage-derived gene delivery vehicles create central nervous system genetic medicines; a new CAR-T cell therapy aims to help people with HIV; and more. 

PathAI announced a multi-year expanded collaboration agreement with Bristol Myers Squibb. The initial work will focus on key translational research in oncology, fibrosis, and immunology, with an overall goal of transitioning into clinical trials. Bristol Myers Squibb and PathAI will utilize AI pathology models with the potential to de-risk therapeutic development across Bristol Myers Squibb’s pipeline. In addition, the companies plan to leverage these models to help enhance patient segmentation in clinical trials across multiple disease indications and develop AI-powered diagnostics, including measuring CD8 T-cell infiltration across oncology areas. Press release

Cytiva and ForecyteBio, a cell and gene therapy (CGT) contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), are sharing expertise and advanced technology to bring better speed and efficiency to the CGT industry in China and the United States. The two companies’ collaboration starts in Cytiva’s Fast Trak center in Shanghai, where biotech companies can quickly access industry know-how and get professional consulting and training. With the installation of Cytiva’s FlexFactory platforms, Forecyte Bio will have good manufacturing practice production capabilities for virus and plasmid DNA in Shanghai, China and Maryland, United States. Press release.

ElevateBio and the University of Pittsburgh announced a long-term strategic partnership to locate one of its manufacturing facilities in Pittsburgh, fully equipped with its enabling technologies, including gene editing, induced pluripotent stem cells, and cell, vector, and protein engineering capabilities. The partnership was made possible through a previous $100 million gift to UPitt from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. In addition, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf—through the Governor’s Action Team—along with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the County of Allegheny, provided ElevateBio an $860,000 Pennsylvania First grant and other incentive grants. The goal is to establish Pittsburgh as a premier biomanufacturing destination. Press release

Gensaic entered into a strategic partnership with Ovid Therapeutics. Under the terms of the collaboration, Gensaic will develop phage-derived gene delivery vehicles for central nervous system (CNS) disorders. The partners also agreed to develop up to three genetic medicines for CNS indications harnessing Gensaic’s proprietary phage-derived particle (PDP) platform. PDPs are part of a new class of gene therapy called genetically encoded nanoparticles that can be manufactured efficiently in bacterial culture. Press release

Metabolon announced a partnership with the University of Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre (OPDC) to identify metabolomic biomarkers related to Parkinson’s disease progression and prediction and to detect new therapeutic targets. OPDC Discovery Cohort is a Parkinson’s biomarker cohort among the world's most deeply phenotyped and genotyped Parkinson’s cohorts. Through this collaboration, Metabolon will perform global metabolomics on longitudinal serum and cerebrospinal fluid samples collected by OPDC to gain insights into the metabolomic changes occurring during Parkinson’s disease progression. In addition, the Centre will incorporate metabolomic data with clinical and genetic data to provide a holistic view of the disease. Press release

Cytiva and Caring Cross have agreed to develop a CAR-T cell therapy for people with HIV. Cytiva will provide its technologies and solutions in support of Caring Cross’ mission to use manufacturing and distribution models to enable the affordability and accessibility of CAR-T cell therapies to diverse patient populations and treatment indications. Caring Cross is dedicated to advancing a decentralized, place-of-care cell manufacturing model and developing its first therapeutic anti-HIV duoCAR-T cell therapy designed to suppress HIV replication and eliminate HIV-expressing cells. A stem cell gene therapy for Sickle Cell Disease and Beta-Thalassemia is also developing. Press release

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University announced that Spear Bio licensed its DNA nanotechnology-driven ultrasensitive Successive Proximity Extension Amplification Reaction protein-detection technology, granting the Boston-based startup rights to commercialize the technology. Spear Bio will develop a reagent-based platform for ultrasensitive protein detection in small-volume samples with an initial focus on research-use-only applications. Their first focus will be to commercialize an ultra-sensitive assay that can accurately measure the levels of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Press release

Worldwide Clinical Trial expanded its Early Phase large molecule capabilities and services with a new 15,000-square-foot lab at its multimillion-dollar Bioanalytical Center of Excellence in Austin, Texas. The added capacity enables Worldwide to provide its sponsors with optimized sample processing and analysis workflows for minimal turnaround times and the flexibility to scale. Worldwide’s capabilities include pharmacodynamic studies, pharmacokinetics, biomarker assays, genotyping, and immunogenicity testing. Press release

SpIntellx announced a new partnership with iCura Diagnostics to transform precision oncology. SpIntellx’s software-based solutions will combine with iCura Diagnostics’ expertise as a technical CRO, propelling the pace of immunotherapy and targeted therapy development. Through this strategic alliance, the two companies will deliver advanced spatial analytics and explainable AI-powered decisions at scale across the drug development continuum, driving multimodal data integration, optimizing clinical workflow, accelerating biomarker discovery, and empowering personalized care. They also plan to launch a suite of solutions combining genomic, proteomic, transcriptomic, and clinical data to explore the complex spatial heterogeneity in the tumor microenvironment. Press release

Instrumems announced its new Bubble detection sensor as a measurement system for improved precision in liquid handling, leading to reduced errors. The sensor increases the product yield or the accuracy of the material delivery and reduces equipment downtime through early indication of liquid blockage or leaks. The company’s core technology is based on a novel MEMS-based nano thermal filament for accurate flow measurement. Key features of Instrumems’ technology include bubble detection (the only product capable of detection at <50% occupied channel), a fast response time (the quickest response on the market at <1 ms), and bubble detection at low flow rates (+/- 0.5 ml/min). Press release

ClostraBio scientists, with support from the University of Chicago, designed a palatable delivery system for butyrate—a metabolite produced by microbes with an unpleasant smell and taste—to potentially stop allergic reactions. The team created a polymer with a butyrate side chain that self-assembles into aggregates, or polymeric micelles, tucking the butyrate side chains in its core and cloaking the foul smell and taste. These polymeric micelles are effective against peanut allergies in mice and could someday counteract many types of food allergies and inflammatory diseases. The researchers presented their results at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society. Press release

GenScript USA announced a new research use only and pre-clinical messenger RNA (mRNA) synthesis service for biopharma research and development teams. Messenger RNA provides new therapeutic opportunities to synthesize the proteins used to engineer personalized medicines, but until now, mRNA development involves contracting with several specialist suppliers. In contrast, GenScript's IVT mRNA offers a single-vendor gene-to-mRNA service that delivers custom mRNA within six to eight weeks, expanding the possibilities for personalized medicines such as patient-specific cancer vaccines or protein replacement for rare diseases. Press release

Inify Laboratories is on track to build its first ultramodern laboratory at Campus Solna, Sweden. The company expects to move into the new facility during the fourth quarter of 2022 and immediately commence installing systems and equipment, followed by accreditation. The laboratory will begin production of prostate cancer diagnoses sometime during the first half of 2023. Inify continues to develop and integrate a specially designed IT system and process built to support a fully digital, standardized workflow and reporting system. Press release

EVONETIX announced the opening of its early access program for semiconductor synthesized DNA. Evonetix’s proprietary process utilizes a novel silicon chip to control the synthesis of DNA at many thousands of independent thermally controlled reaction sites, or “pixels,” on the chip surface. This approach enables the accurate synthesis of thousands of sequences on a single chip to meet the demand for complex libraries and assembly of long DNA, addressing the DNA supply bottleneck in synthetic biology. Researchers can apply for the Company’s early access program to receive some of the first DNA prepared using its technology and demonstrate the efficacy of Evonetix DNA in routine molecular biology workflows. Press release

SEQSTER PDM announced the release of SeqsterOS—an Operating System for patient registries and clinical studies—in Amazon Web Services Marketplace, a curated digital catalog of third-party software, data, and services that helps businesses build solutions. SEQSTER OS automates and integrates real-world data in real time, leading to better study participant engagement and retention. Its HIPAA and FDA 21 CFR Part 11-compliant OS provides an end-to-end solution for pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations. Its multi-region high availability/disaster recovery redundancy powers all the tools needed for study and data management. Press release

Mayo Clinic announced a strategic collaboration with National Resilience to manufacture biotherapeutics for rare and complex conditions and establish Rochester as a center for biomanufacturing regenerative technologies. The partnership combines science, engineering, and manufacturing to develop biologic-derived medicines to facilitate tissue-specific repair. Mayo's goal is to accelerate clinical care options for patients. Press release

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Society of Nephrology announced a new prize competition from the Kidney Innovation Accelerator (KidneyX) that seeks to further the development of fully functional bioartificial kidneys. To encourage revolutionary designs, KidneyX will look for proposals for tools or components that adapt regenerative medicine, cellular engineering, tissue engineering, systems biology, or synthetic biology methods to address challenges in developing a fully functional artificial kidney. Up to $10.5 million in funding will be split among up to nine prize winners. For the full rules, eligibility requirements, and a list of resources available to applicants, visit the KidneyX website. Press release

SyncThink, makers of the EYE-SYNC technology, announced that it completed Conformitè Europëenne (CE) Mark certification. The certification affirms conformity to European Medical Device Regulation, also known as ISO 13485, and EYE-SYNC will be registered as a Class I medical device. The CE marking represents a manufacturer’s declaration that products comply with the European Union’s (EU) New Approach Directives. These directives apply to products within the EU and manufactured in, or designed to be sold, in the European Economic Area. Press release

The University of California San Diego expanded an ongoing program that monitors wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 to detect monkeypox. Persons infected by SARS-CoV-2 shed the virus in their waste, even before they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. As a result, researchers at UC San Diego and UC San Diego Health collected wastewater samples across campus in late 2020 using auto-sampling robots for subsequent analysis to help safely return students to campus. Wastewater surveillance provided early detection of 85 percent of COVID-19 cases on the UC San Diego campus, allowing for more effective mitigation and prevention efforts. Researchers are also exploring the possibility of adding the poliovirus to the wastewater surveillance program, which has reappeared in parts of the United States. Press release

The University of Illinois Chicago is working with the National Institutes of Health and other research teams to establish the Midwest Antiviral Drug Discovery Center for pandemic-level antiviral drug development. The University of Minnesota leads the Center as part of a network of nine national centers established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in response to the public health emergency caused by COVID-19. The center brings together collaborative investigators from 16 institutions to discover effective responses to pandemics, life-threatening infections, and drug resistance through basic, translational and clinical research. Press release

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Empyrean Medical Systems announced an exclusive license and joint development agreement to advance novel technologies and products in radiation oncology and cancer therapeutics. Under this agreement, Empyrean obtains an exclusive license to develop and commercialize a new approach for radiation therapy delivery originally discovered by MD Anderson researchers. The Magnetically Optimized Very High Energy Electron Therapy method has the potential to significantly improve the precision of radiation delivered by machinery with a similar footprint to conventional options. Additionally, the two institutions intend to collaboratively develop other technologies based on Empyrean’s intellectual property, all to optimize care for patients with cancer. Press release

908 Devices announced that it completed the acquisition of privately-held TRACE Analytics GmbH, based in Braunschweig, Germany, a provider of online analysis and sampling systems for biotech applications. 908 Devices expects the acquired technology to enable its mass spec devices as online bioprocess monitors. TRACE Analytics’ technology, in single-use and reusable configurations, is applied in mammalian cell culture and microbial fermentations at all levels of the bioprocess chain. The purchase consideration includes an initial cash payment of $15.3 million and up to an additional $2.0 million contingent cash consideration upon achieving certain milestones over the next two years. Press release

New England Biolabs (NEB) announced the release of the Faustovirus Capping Enzyme (FCE), an mRNA capping solution that supports mRNA therapeutic manufacturing needs. As a single-subunit enzyme, FCE contains all the enzymatic activities to achieve a Cap-0 structure, a critical step in eukaryotic mRNA maturation. When used in conjunction with NEB's mRNA Cap 2´-O-Methyltransferase, users can generate a Cap-1 structure in a one-pot reaction. FCE is active over a broader temperature range (20°C – 55°C), is manufactured using environmentally friendly biological processes, and avoids the large-scale use of organic solvents without producing significant volumes of hazardous waste. Press release

Element Biosciences announced that it shipped multiple AVITI systems—a new DNA sequencing platform—to its first set of customers and announced the upcoming launch of its new AVITI 150-Cycle Sequencing Kit, shipping in Q4 2022. This launch meets rapidly growing customer demand following the commercial launch of the AVITI System in March. The new AVITI 150-Cycle Sequencing Kit facilitates short-read sequencing and delivers unprecedented $1-1.35 per million reads at >90% Q30 on a desktop instrument in each lab that doesn’t require batching, a unique offering in the sequencing market. Additionally, Element is launching ElemBio Capital Solutions, which will provide financing and leasing options for customers who want to get started quickly without upfront ownership costs. Press release

New England Biolabs recently announced its new Q5 Blood Direct 2X Master Mix. This DNA polymerase master mix amplifies various genetic targets directly from whole or dried blood without requiring costly and time-intensive purification steps. Unfortunately, multiple substances in blood samples often inhibit successful polymerase chain reaction. To combat this, the existing Q5 Hot Start High-Fidelity DNA Polymerase is combined with deoxynucleoside triphosphates in an optimized buffer, delivering increased resistance to inhibitors in blood, anti-coagulants, and chemicals on filter papers. Press release

The Serbian Genome Sequencing and Bio-informatics Center—Serbia's first genome sequencing center—opened in partnership with China’s BGI Genomics and is located within the Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering. This Center actively follows new COVID-19 variants in Serbia without relying on overseas laboratories and sequences new variants within 48 hours. There are also three other sequencing product lines, one focusing on prenatal diagnostics. The Center performs a dual epidemic prevention role and accelerates access to genomics. Press release

BioIVT, a drug and diagnostic development company, announced the acquisition of Cypex, a recombinant xenobiotic metabolizing enzyme manufacturer based in Dundee, Scotland. Cypex uses a patented technology that enables the expression of human drug-metabolizing enzymes in bacteria without extensive modifications to the proteins. Cypex has built an impressive product range containing more than 115 recombinant enzymes, companion chemicals, and media to generate in vitro data showing how a candidate drug will metabolize in the human body. BioIVT will continue to operate from the ISO 9001-certified manufacturing facility in Dundee. Press release

Arabian International Healthcare Holding Company (“Tibbiyah”), an integrated healthcare solutions provider in Saudi Arabia, announced a definitive Joint Venture Agreement with BGI Almanahil Health for Medical Services, a subsidiary company of BGI Health, in the formation and operation of a limited liability company to be called Saudi Advanced Medical Lab LIMITED in Saudi Arabia. The new company, owned 50% by BGI Almanahil and 50% by Tibbiyah, will provide clinical laboratory testing and bio-information services to hospitals, research institutes, and medical centers and clinics for the public and private sectors. Press release

3EO Health signed a worldwide, exclusive licensing agreement with Harvard’s Office of Technology Development to commercialize portable, ultrasensitive, PCR-grade nucleic acid detection technology developed by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. With a portable COVID-19 test as an intended first product, the company aims to augment the platform with a digital health environment that will enable more comprehensive telehealth applications. The innovative molecular assay can detect SARS-CoV-2 or other pathogens with high speed, sensitivity, and specificity. Harvard initially granted 3EO Health access to this technology on a non-exclusive basis, enabling broad access to emerging technologies and incentivizing rapid innovation in pursuit of solutions to combat the pandemic. Press release

The National Institutes of Health launched the Initiative to Improve Education in the Principles of Rigorous Research. This program—led by the Office of Research Quality at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of NIH—will contain various training modules covering the strict application of the scientific method to experimental rigor, good study design, and transparency in reporting. The initiative also includes the Creating an Educational Nexus for Training in Experimental Rigor (CENTER) award. The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia received a grant for building a platform to bring high-quality teaching materials to the broader scientific community. The other four awards are projects that will develop the educational materials in collaboration with, and ultimately hosted by, CENTER. Press release

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) helped launch a new computational platform that will harmonize pediatric cancer data, allowing stakeholders to accelerate drug development for pediatric cancer. CHOP researchers created the Molecular Targets Platform to facilitate pediatric research in response to the Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity for Children Act, which requires companies to test cancer drugs in children when the adult drug shares a molecular target. CHOP researchers used their expertise to harmonize data from six major data sources on pediatric cancer targets, genes, and pathways. The platform allows users to query multiple aspects of pediatric cancer, from cancer targets to a gene’s relationship to disease. Press release

A Purdue University assistant professor from the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering, Xiaoping Bao, improved upon traditional methods to produce off-the-shelf human immune cells showing strong antitumor activity. Bao developed a patent-pending process to mass-produce chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) neutrophils from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). The CAR constructs were engineered to express on the surface of the hPSCs, which were directed into functional CAR-neutrophils through a novel, chemically defined protocol. The method was created in collaboration with colleagues from Purdue's Department of Biological Sciences, Indiana University School of Medicine, and Pennsylvania State University. Press release

Thermo Fisher Scientific launched a new automated sample prep and ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography system to improve efficiency, robustness, sensitivity, and sample traceability. The new Thermo Scientific Transcend DSX-1 eliminates disc punching typically associated with dried matrix (spot) cards and optimizes sample extraction and recovery of multiple matrices (e.g., blood, urine, serum, and saliva). Proprietary flow-through desorption with heated capillary eliminates the need for manual, time-consuming extraction protocols, and the automatic addition of an internal standard before the extraction minimizes matrix interference. Furthermore, the Intelligent Vision Camera ensures data integrity and enables retrospective monitoring by capturing sample traceability, the chain of custody, and accurate spot recognition. Press release

Seer announced a new Proteogenomics Workflow that integrates deep, unbiased proteomics and genomics, powered by the Proteograph Analysis Suite 2.0, Seer’s software suite for data analysis and results visualization. The release marks another milestone in Seer’s journey to enable accurate, high-resolution, peptide-level proteogenomics at scale. It maps proteomic, peptide-level data to genomic data to identify sample-specific variant peptides not captured in canonical reference databases. Press release

A new agreement between Upstate Medical University and Binghamton University’s Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science will strengthen ties between the two schools and encourage closer research collaborations. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed last week will allow the institutions to jointly pursue sponsored funding opportunities and develop solutions to today’s pressing medical problems. The agreement also provides Watson faculty greater access to Upstate’s core facilities, biosamples, clinical data, and access to human subject research. Likewise, Binghamton University’s Health Sciences Core facility will be available to Upstate’s researchers. The MOU is slated to last five years, with renewals possible beyond 2027. Press release

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and TransCode Therapeutics announced a strategic alliance to advance TransCode’s RNA-targeted oncology therapeutic and diagnostic candidates pipeline. TransCode and MD Anderson scientists will collaborate on preclinical studies to further validate TransCode’s therapeutic and diagnostic candidates and expand the reach of TransCode’s discovery engine. The collaboration has the potential to inform multiple clinical programs in TransCode’s pipeline, starting with its lead therapeutic candidate designed to treat numerous metastatic cancers. Press release

Sapio Sciences is pleased to announce the immediate availability of its Low-Code, No-code Informatics platform version 22.7. This release advances Sapio’s stand-out no-code capabilities and data visualization toolset. Highlights of 22.7 include a Flow Cytometry data machine learning-based clustering tool freely available to academics, numerous additions to the English sentence-based Rules Engine, and improvements to data visualization. Press release

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and the Experimental Drug Development Centre developed a series of chemical-based compounds as potential drug candidates in the fight against tuberculosis (TB). With multidrug-resistant TB causing outbreaks in multiple nations, new treatments are urgently required. Neuro-Horizon Pharma, a US-based drug development company, licensed the compounds for commercialization from NTU’s innovation and enterprise company, NTUitive, which filed patent applications for the compounds. These small molecule compounds inhibit a key enzyme, mycobacterial F-ATP synthase, which the TB bacterium uses to produce adenosine triphosphate, the primary energy source for living cells. Press release

The National Institutes of Health updated its Strategic Plan for NIH Research to Cure Hepatitis B, which focuses on developing a cure and improved strategies for vaccination, screening, and follow-up care. The virus transmits through contact with infected bodily fluids. People infected early in life may develop chronic infections, suffer liver-related complications, and succumb to the illness. The updated plan details three priorities: improve understanding of Hepatitis B biology, build tools and resources, and create strategies to cure and prevent the disease. Press release

The University of Würzburg launched a new research project to focus on poxviruses after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the monkeypox outbreak an "emergency of international concern." The project aims to develop novel drugs against pox pathogens by identifying substances that prevent the viruses from multiplying. The team will use cryo-electron microscopic imaging where samples are “flash-frozen” to temperatures of up to minus 180 degrees Celsius to examine biological complexes in solution and reconstruct their three-dimensional structure. Press release

Carterra and La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI), a non-profit research organization, announced that LJI acquired a Carterra LSA instrument to enhance its antibody screening and characterization work. The LSA will support LJI’s discovery efforts of broadly reactive antibodies against several pathogens. This discovery enables rapid characterization of hundreds of antibodies in the early stages, followed by in-depth analysis of leads during later stages of discovery. The LSA will also allow the rapid characterization of sera samples from vaccine studies and autoimmune and cancer targets. The LSA was a primary tool Eli Lilly and AbCellera used to discover bamlanivimab, the world’s first COVID-19 therapeutic and fastest biologic ever to reach clinical trials. Press release

A new National Science Foundation initiative created a 10-million-dollar Institute for Emerging CORE Methods in Data Science (EnCORE) led by computer and data scientists at the University of California San Diego to transform the core fundamentals of data science. UC San Diego team members will work with researchers from three partnering institutions–the Universities of Pennsylvania, Texas at Austin, and California, Los Angeles–to transform four core aspects of data science: the complexity of data, optimization, responsible computing, and education and engagement. EnCORE is spearheaded by women who are leaders in their fields. Press release

A research team from Duke-NUS Medical School and the National Heart Centre Singapore won the British Heart Foundation’s Big Beat Challenge. The global award, £30m, is one of the largest non-commercial grants ever. The winning team is collectively known as CureHeart and comprises world-leading UK, US, and Singapore scientists. Using base and prime editing, they will seek to develop the first cures for inherited heart muscle diseases by pioneering revolutionary and ultra-precise gene therapy technologies. Press release

NeuroSense Therapeutics and NeuraLight announced a collaboration to advance the science of digital biomarkers in detecting and monitoring neurological diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The NeuroSense-NeuraLight partnership entails sharing and tracking patient data using proprietary computer vision and deep learning algorithms to advance the identification and use of ALS digital biomarkers in a parallel, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted by NeuraLight. This collaboration marks NeuraLight's first clinical trial and comes on the heels of NeuraLight's $25M Series A raise. Press release

The National University of Singapore Department of Pharmacy developed an improved pharmaceutical drug to treat atrial fibrillation (AF). The eight-member research team improved the drug dronedarone to create a new drug candidate: poyendarone. Current AF drugs often promote ventricular arrhythmia, a condition potentially more dangerous than AF. Through laboratory studies, the team found the new drug reduced side effects, treated AF efficaciously, and was efficiently processed by the body. Press release.