The American Heart Association Launches Precision Medicine Platform, New Proprietary Computational Models for Oncology Drug Discovery, More

October 27, 2022

October 27, 2022 | New consensus recommendations for using in silico approaches to validate next-generation sequencing data analysis pipelines; a pre-consortium collaboration for medical product development in alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency; integrated drug discovery services to design, synthesize, and profile targeted heterobifunctional protein degraders; and more. 

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network and the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia launched the European project THERACAT to develop new strategies to deliver drugs directly to the tumor site. The project trained 13 early-stage researchers in different aspects of the novel field of bio-orthogonal catalysis for cancer therapy. Bio-orthogonal chemistry refers to reactions that can take place inside our bodies without interfering with the native biochemical reactions that generally occur. The project focuses on bio-orthogonal catalysis challenges to treat cancer from a multidisciplinary and collaborative perspective, ultimately finding new treatments against cancer that are more effective and with fewer side effects. Press release.

BGI Australia’s lab received accreditation from the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) to perform clinical whole exome sequencing in Australia, paving the way for the global life sciences company to provide clinical sequencing services for identifying possible disease-causing genetic changes. For the first time after receiving NATA’s Human Pathology Laboratory Accreditation, the lab will start to offer clinical services in Australia to clinical labs, hospitals, and other partners to detect changes in the exome that contribute to rare genetic and pediatric diseases. Press release

The American Heart Association created the Cardiogenic Shock Registry powered by Get With The Guidelines. The new registry will help researchers, clinicians, and regulators to better understand the clinical symptoms of cardiogenic shock types, treatment patterns, and outcomes. Data from this no-cost registry will help inform the larger medical community on how best to treat cardiogenic shock. The American Heart Association will use its Precision Medicine Platform, a secure cloud-computing platform, to facilitate the research. Powered by Amazon Web Services, the Precision Medicine Platform provides streamlined data access and cloud-based workspaces, removing traditional barriers researchers often face when approaching challenging scientific questions. Press release

Cleveland Clinic and IBM have begun deployment of the first private sector onsite IBM-managed quantum computer in the United States. Anticipated to be completed in early 2023, the first quantum computer in healthcare was built to fundamentally advance the pace of biomedical research through high-performance computing. Additionally, both companies have launched the Cleveland Clinic-IBM Discovery Accelerator, where teams have already begun several collaborative projects. These projects include a research study developing a quantum computing method to screen and optimize drugs targeted to specific proteins; improving a prediction model for cardiovascular risk following non-cardiac surgery; and using artificial intelligence to search genome sequencing findings and large drug-target databases to find effective, existing drugs that could help patients with Alzheimer’s and other diseases. Press release

Veeva Systems announced the availability of Veeva CDB, a first-of-its-kind solution for aggregating, cleaning, and transforming clinical data. With Veeva CDB, sponsors and data providers can view and resolve data queries centrally to minimize quality risks, provide better data visibility, and speed trial execution. Veeva CDB’s automated ingestion engine combines data from various external sources, including EDC, RTSM, ePRO, eCOA, and lab data. In addition, for the first time, the Veeva CDB Data Provider Program will provide qualified data providers with tools, training, and support to supply data using a standardized and streamlined method for Veeva CDB customers. Press release

The Association for Molecular Pathology published consensus recommendations for using in silico approaches to validate next-generation sequencing (NGS) data analysis pipelines (The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, DOI: 10.1016/j.jmoldx.2022.09.007). The In Silico Pipeline Validation Working Group offered general recommendations such as the following: the laboratory may use in silico data files to supplement NGS analytical validation but not to supplant the use of physical samples; the laboratory should understand the functional limitations of the type(s) of in silico data utilized; the laboratory may consider using in silico samples for minor updates to clinical bioinformatics software pipelines, and commercial vendors and internal pipeline developers should include options in their analysis pipelines to facilitate easier in silico data file import and analysis by clinical laboratories. Press release

Jumpcode Genomics introduced an expanded portfolio of RNA depletion technologies to enable researchers to extract greater insights and detect novel signals in the transcriptome that were previously hidden by abundant and uninformative sequences. The CRISPRclean RNA Depletion Portfolio includes several new offerings that harness the specificity of CRISPR to deplete abundant sequences, cut through the noise of uninformative transcripts, and boost discovery. New products include: CRISPRclean High-Expressing RNA Depletion Kit, Focused RNA Depletion Panels, Custom Guide Design, and CRISPRclean Bulk Ribodepletion Reagents. These offerings leverage Jumpcode’s patented CRISPR-based technology, which utilizes CRISPR-Cas9 to degrade abundant, uninformative sequences in prepared next-generation sequencing libraries. Press release

Promatix announced a collaboration with the University College London Jasmin Fisher Lab to develop new proprietary computational executable cancer models for Promatix’s CipherPro suite of algorithms to mine the TxPro databank and identify new oncology drug targets. TxPro is the most comprehensive membrane protein tissue databank for identifying oncology drug targets worldwide and has thousands of primary tissue samples from healthy and diseased states. CipherPro is a proprietary suite of algorithms to mine TxPro and other databanks to support oncology drug discovery and development. Using predictive modeling, computational executable cancer models can simulate cancer biology in silico to discover new therapeutic targets, validate existing drug targets, and suggest new drug combinations. Press release

Cytel has agreed to acquire SDS Life Science AB and SDS MedteQ AB. The move will add new global talent to Cytel’s Strategic Consulting group and bring additional expertise and capabilities for the strategic development of drugs and medical devices. As a result, sponsors will have easier access to a larger, geographically expanded pool of consulting expertise to help them get new therapies to patients faster. The acquisition furthers Cytel’s global expansion and continues the company’s journey of building a diverse, multi-disciplinary, and strategic thought partner for sponsors developing new therapeutics across the biopharma and medical technology ecosystem. With SDS Life Science and SDS MedteQ supporting over 100 biomedical sponsors in Scandinavia and several multinational pharmaceutical companies, the acquisition continues Cytel’s rapid growth into new global markets. Press release

Illumina announced a strategic research collaboration with AstraZeneca to accelerate drug target discovery by combining their strengths in artificial intelligence (AI) based genome interpretation and genomic analysis techniques to accelerate drug target discovery. The collaboration leverages Illumina's next generation of AI-based interpretation tools, PrimateAI and SpliceAI, in combination with AstraZeneca's analysis framework for rare variant genomic discoveries—alongside the latter's own AI tools, including JARVIS and in silico predictors like missense tolerance ratio. As part of the research collaboration, AstraZeneca's Center for Genomics Research will adopt a framework combining the two companies' AI-based tools to analyze large-scale multi-omics data sets in its digital biobank. The complementary AI tools work to more confidently pinpoint genetic variants that contribute to human diseases, a critical step in developing practical and safe therapies. Press release

Critical Path Institute announced that it has recently launched a pre-consortium collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research and Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, focused on accelerating medical product development in alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD). The pre-consortium, Critical Path for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, will work in partnership with AATD stakeholders to define tangible unmet needs in drug development and lay the groundwork for specific solutions to these needs, to be generated through the envisioned full consortium. Improving the quantitative understanding of actionable biomarkers and clinically meaningful endpoints will accelerate medical product development for this condition. Press release

Amphista Therapeutics has selected Domainex as a trusted partner to provide integrated drug discovery services to support its research programs. Domainex will provide protein production, assay biology, and medicinal chemistry expertise. Domainex has experience in targeted protein degradation with knowledge in designing, synthesizing, and profiling targeted heterobifunctional protein degraders. Domainex has established in vitro binary and ternary complex formation assays to confirm target engagement using its suite of biophysical technologies. This expertise makes Domainex an ideal partner to support Amphista’s targeted protein degradation programs. Press release

Thermo Fisher Scientific introduced the Thermo Scientific Glacios 2 Cryo-Transmission Electron Microscope (Cryo-TEM), a powerful microscope with new automation and high-resolution imaging capabilities designed to help cryo-electron microscopy researchers accelerate structure-based drug discovery. This advanced, fast, and cost-efficient method for drug design may enable customers to accelerate research for debilitating disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases, as well as research for cancer and gene mutations. The Glacios 2 Cryo-TEM includes single particle analysis, cryo-electron tomography, and microcrystal electron diffraction. Additional highlights include fringe-free imaging for acquiring more usable images per foil hole, increased throughput, and a new enclosure and hardware improvements to enhance performance. Press release

Thermo Fisher Scientific announced the addition of a new freezer to its ultra-low temperature green portfolio. The Thermo Scientific TDE Series -80°C Chest freezers, powered by H-drive hydrocarbon systems, deliver the reliability and enhanced performance required for vital research without compromising sustainability goals. With rapid temperature recovery and tight peak variation, the TDE Series Chest Freezer is designed for frequent entry and long-term storage applications. In addition, using natural refrigerants and insulation with extremely low global warming and ozone-depleting potential levels far exceeds current regulatory requirements and ensures laboratory compliance with U.S. EPA SNAP & EU F-gas regulations. Press release

The Population Council announced the completion of an asset purchase agreement between the Council and the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), which transferred ownership of its intellectual property, grant agreements, and other assets. The Council plans to add three IPM technologies to its product line: a monthly dapivirine vaginal ring, the first long-acting technology approved for human immunodeficiency virus prevention; a three-month dapivirine ring that could reduce annual costs and provide additional convenience; and a three-month dapivirine contraceptive ring that would expand contraceptive choice and control to meet people’s sexual and reproductive health needs. Press release

iSpecimen launched its new Marketplace Onsite program that embeds a coordinator at select partner sites to facilitate fulfillment of incoming sample and data requests from the proprietary iSpecimen Marketplace platform. With this extra support layer, iSpecimen and its partners can expand and streamline access to biospecimens for research. The Marketplace Onsite coordinator will field all requests and submit proposals on behalf of the provider, streamlining sample-related management and reducing strain on existing staff and product pipelines. It will also help with building and contracting with a network of researchers, providing remuneration for biospecimens and data, offering IT assistance for data management needs, and covering the expenses of the iSpecimen Onsite employee. Press release

The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a collaborative partnership. Joint activities will include developing materials to train early-career vaccinologists and collaborating across the entire spectrum of vaccine development. IVI and LSHTM are committed to facilitating the transfer of knowledge, know-how, and technology to build capacity and collaborative networks, particularly in low-resource settings. LSHTM faculty regularly join an esteemed group of lecturers for the annual International Vaccinology Course, IVI’s flagship training program. Press release

Gladstone Institutes has partnered with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI) to establish a new research center focused on using genomics and CRISPR technology to program the human immune system to treat cancer. Through the partnership, Gladstone scientists will collaborate with other preeminent research centers in the PICI Network to explore how genome editing could accelerate fundamental insights into how immune cells are “wired,” potentially leading to a new generation of cell-based cancer immunotherapies. PICI also facilitates access to advanced bioinformatics, intellectual property, sequencing, immune monitoring, industry-owned drugs, cell manufacturing, genetic engineering, and clinical trial management. Press release.