Microsoft Applies AI to Digitial Cancer Pathology Imaging, World’s First Next-Generation Single-Molecule Protein Sequencing Platform, More

January 26, 2023

January 26, 2023 | A Salmonella-based bactofection platform to deliver RNA payloads to treat cancer patients; tRNA therapeutics capable of overcoming genetic errors to treat genetic diseases and cancer; the Jackson Laboratory enters an expansive and exclusive intellectual property licensing agreement across six areas of human health; and more.

Aston University scientists are working with a start-up company, Isterian Biotech, part of Cambrian BioPharma, to develop novel drugs to treat fibrotic diseases such as lung disease. The start-up is working to develop small molecule inhibitors of transglutaminase 2, also known as TG2, which is one of the major crosslinking enzymes in the human body that becomes more active during aging, thus resulting in fibrotic diseases such as a type of lung disease known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Their work with small molecule inhibitors selective for TG2 has demonstrated a reduction of fibrosis in multiple organs in several animal models. The company's current pipeline includes an advanced preclinical-stage TG2 inhibitor for inhaled administration and several structurally unrelated backup compounds for treating IPF. Press release.

Thermo Fisher Scientific announced the launch of its CE-IVD marked Applied Biosystems TaqPath Seq HIV-1 Genotyping Kit. This Sanger sequencing-based assay examines positive samples of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to identify genetic variants that may resist common antiretroviral therapeutics. Using HIV RNA extracted from plasma or dried blood spots, the assay is designed to analyze genomic mutations in the protease, reverse transcriptase, and integrase regions of the HIV-1 pol gene across nine subtypes of global significance. The enhanced assay design helps provide global clinical and public health laboratories with a standardized, cost-effective tool to help manage the overall progression of HIV care and research, as well as public health strategies supporting the UNAIDS 2030 Fast Track targets. Press release.

McKinsey & Company announced that it had acquired Iguazio. McKinsey will be able to accelerate and scale AI deployments dramatically with the addition of Iguazio’s technology and a team of 70+ data and AI experts. QuantumBlack, AI by McKinsey helps clients embed AI into real-time decision-making. Working with Iguazio, QuantumBlack will now be able to provide clients with industry-specific AI solutions that are five times more productive, eight times faster from proof-of-concept to production, and twice as reliable. This is McKinsey's first acquisition in Israel and the foundation for a new QuantumBlack location, which McKinsey plans to grow and expand in the coming years. Press release.

Cure Mito Foundation, in collaboration with five rare disease companies—PTC Therapeutics, Astellas, Saol Therapeutics, Standigm, and Abliva—announced the launch of a unique Corporate Advisory Council (CAC). The CAC’s goal is to unite mitochondrial disease stakeholders across different organizations with a common goal to accelerate the development and delivery of treatments, and ultimately a cure, for Leigh syndrome and mitochondrial disease. CAC members will have a seat around the table within the patient advocacy community while raising awareness and visibility of its companies and their programs. Press release.

Digital Science has acquired metaphacts, a knowledge graph and decision intelligence software company in the pharmaceutical, engineering, manufacturing, finance, insurance, retail, and energy markets. Its main product, metaphactory, is a platform that supports customers in adopting knowledge graphs and driving knowledge democratization. Knowledge graphs are knowledge bases that use graph-structured, semantic data models to interlink data and support intuitive search and exploration of knowledge. This acquisition will help transform vast amounts of raw data into human and machine-interpretable, actionable insights to power business decisions. Press release.

Strata Oncology announced that Gilead Sciences agreed to collaborate on the Strata Precision Indications for Approved THerapies (Strata PATH) trial by providing TRODELVY (Sacituzumab govitecan-hziy) for eligible patients with cancer. Strata PATH is a prospective pan-tumor therapeutic trial designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of multiple FDA-approved cancer therapies in new, biomarker-guided patient populations. Several biomarkers are being considered, including quantitative RNA and multivariate algorithms that may optimize the use of different anti-cancer therapies. These biomarkers can be analyzed in parallel with the genomic mutations assessed by comprehensive genomic profiling, thus maximizing the information available from often limited tumor tissue samples. Press release.

The Minister of Health and Population in Egypt, Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, met with BGI Almanahil CEO, Mr. Allen Ma, to discuss how to expand the provision of medical testing and analysis services to Egyptian citizens through the central laboratory of the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population. The expansion would also strengthen the operations of medical laboratory services provided by the private sector to achieve effective integration across institutions within the Egyptian health system. The meeting focused on expanding genetic testing services for citizens in central laboratories to facilitate the early detection of diseases. Both parties discussed strengthening genetic testing services at four stages: premarital testing, testing during pregnancy, postnatal testing, and testing of the elderly. The meeting also discussed enhancing the capacity of the 5,400 health organizations across Egyptian provinces to provide citizens with medical testing and analysis services. BGI Almanahil is a subsidiary of BGI Genomics' in the Middle East/North Africa region. Press release.

hC Bioscience has acquired 4SR Biosciences to combine technologies, IP, and know-how to advance the development of first-in-class tRNA-based therapeutics. Their technologies will be used to discover and optimize tRNAs capable of overcoming genetic errors to treat genetic diseases and cancer. As part of the acquisition, hC Bioscience will bring 4SR’s technology in-house, including MSR-seq, a proprietary high-throughput sequencing tool that measures tRNA abundance, modification, charging, and fragmentation in response to stress, varying biological conditions, and genetic mutations. 4SR has recently leveraged its MSR-seq platform to develop engineered tRNA to rescue missense mutations in genetic diseases partially. Press release.

908 Devices announced the launch of MAVEN, a device for online monitoring and controlling of glucose and lactate in cell culture and fermentation processes. Taking measurements as frequently as every two minutes, MAVEN operates without manually drawing samples out of the bioreactor due to its novel aseptic sampling approach. This improves process understanding, saves operator time, reduces the risk of process contamination, and accelerates development workflows. MAVEN enables real-time control of substrate feeding to maintain optimal nutrient and metabolite concentrations—even at very low levels (0.01 g/L of glucose and 0.05 g/L of lactate)—making it particularly beneficial to cell therapy applications where tight control of cell culture conditions is vital. The device is available now worldwide. Press release.

Chemcial.AI announced a strategic cooperation with NovAliX in AI-assisted drug discovery. Over the past two years, ChemAIRS, developed by Chemical.AI, has promoted the development of AI solutions in the pharmaceutical field, creating optimal AI solutions for NovAliX’s clients and partners. ChemAIRS supports the integration of millions of internal electronic lab notebooks (ELN) data, with a 99% success rate of ELN-reaction retrieval. Chemical.AI has been committed to using AI to accelerate the efficiency of chemical synthesis and drive chemical synthesis toward a digital, automated, and intelligent future. Since its establishment, Chemical.AI has successfully achieved in-depth cooperation in the areas of retrosynthesis, synthetic route design, evaluation of synthesis accessibility, virtual-molecule library generation by forward synthesis, and process route optimization. Press release.

Paige announced a collaboration with Microsoft to apply the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to digital pathology images to develop and deliver a new generation of clinical applications and computational biomarkers to transform cancer diagnosis and patient care. Microsoft will also invest in Paige to accelerate the development and deployment of life-saving AI diagnostics. Paige will use Microsoft Azure as its cloud provider for the Paige Platform, a comprehensive solution to power a lab’s digital pathology workflow that consists of data management, cloud storage options, and FullFocus, an FDA-cleared whole-slide image viewer. As part of this collaboration, Paige will become a Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare partner and enable Microsoft to enhance its offerings for healthcare customers. Paige is also working with Nuance, a Microsoft company, on integrating their offering with Nuance’s Precision Imaging Network. Together with Nuance, healthcare organizations can access the broadest and deepest set of trusted AI solutions to address the biggest challenges in the industry. Press release.

Target RWE announced the launch of 35 new observational disease state registries encompassing an extensive portfolio of immune-mediated inflammatory conditions. The TARGET-NEURO and TARGET-METABOLIC registries capture real-world patient data in high unmet-need disease states such as Alzheimer's Disease, obesity, diabetes, and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Each new disease state registry will collect direct patient experiences through digital surveys (patient-reported outcome measures) and whole blood, plasma, serum, and tissue samples as part of Target RWE's exclusive biorepository. Target RWE is the only real-world evidence company to offer a biorepository of tissue samples that can be analyzed as a part of broader communities. The biorepository allows Target RWE to combine extensive biomarker research, translational research, and genomic data with its established research communities. Press release.

General Biomics and The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) announced an expansive and exclusive intellectual property licensing agreement across six areas of human health. The agreement will enable JAX to transfer hundreds of microbiome samples, as well as other materials, datasets, and related know-how, accrued by researchers at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine and UConn Heath, to General Biomics. As part of this transaction, JAX will become a shareholder in General Biomics. General Biomics’ mission is to deliver novel multi-omic solutions to human healthcare through knowledge of the human microbiome. The program intends to develop novel, patentable tests that significantly reduce hospitalization costs and mortality and morbidity rates in newborns and premature infants. Other areas of health and disease include asthma, oncology, immune and inflammatory responses, aging, and health and wellness. Press release.

Prokarium and Ginkgo Bioworks announced a partnership to develop a bactofection platform to deliver RNA-based therapeutics. While significant advances have been made to optimize viral delivery systems, toxicity and targeting issues with these delivery vehicles may limit their broader utility. Bactofection, the process of transferring genetic material into a mammalian cell via a bacterium, is an alternative gene delivery system that could deliver therapeutic agents to a patient. In collaboration with Prokarium, Ginkgo will aim to engineer a Salmonella-based bactofection platform to deliver RNA payloads to treat cancer patients, building on existing capabilities in RNA therapeutics, viral-based gene therapy, and bacterial therapeutics. Press release.

Esperovax and Ginkgo Bioworks announced a partnership to develop circular RNAs (circRNAs) for various therapeutic applications. Initially, Ginkgo and Esperovax will work to establish circRNAs harboring payloads to specifically target colorectal cancer by inducing cell death only in cancerous cells. This type of targeted cell death would reduce toxicity and resulting side effects. By combining omics datasets, computational approaches, and high-throughput screening capabilities, Ginkgo will design, build and screen large numbers of RNA designs that leverage and optimize Esperovax's novel mechanism of cell-type specific circularization. Through its growing portfolio of programs in cell and gene therapy and RNA therapeutics and the recent acquisition of Circularis, Ginkgo is uniquely positioned to enable new solutions in these areas with circRNA. Press release.

Egnyte recently announced it would provide early-stage life sciences innovators complimentary access to their award-winning Egnyte for Life Sciences platform. The Egnyte for Life Sciences platform enables pre-clinical and clinical-stage biotechs with limited IT resources to collaborate seamlessly on diverse data sets with their partner ecosystems while maintaining the required data control and compliance with industry regulations. Egnyte’s free offering is available exclusively to early-stage life sciences startups. Companies who qualify for the offer will receive 12 months of access to the platform for up to five users. Egnyte’s Life Science platform is a fully validated, audit-ready environment compliant with 21 CFR Part 11 for regulated and unregulated data. Press release.

Insilico Medicine launched a 6th generation Intelligent Robotics Drug Discovery Laboratory called Life Star. The fully automated AI-powered robotics laboratory performs target discovery, compound screening, precision medicine development, and translational research. The lab will allow Insilico to accelerate its end-to-end drug discovery further and optimize the success rate of its drug development as it moves its novel therapeutics through clinical trials. The Intelligent Robotics Lab forms a closed loop by combining Pharma.AI (Insilico Medicine's end-to-end AI platform for target discovery, novel drug design, and clinical trial prediction) with fully automated biological experiment functional modules. All the high-quality data generated by the robotics lab will complement and expand Insilico’s existing data resources to train and optimize the AI platform, further strengthening Insilico’s biological data factory. Press release.

Biognosys AG and Bruker Corporation announced a strategic partnership in which Bruker has made a majority-ownership investment in Biognosys. Financial details were not disclosed. Biognosys will access Bruker’s leading 4D proteomics timsTOF technology for deeper, unbiased high-precision proteomics unimpaired by epitope cross-reactivity—all with higher throughput and excellent reproducibility. The Bruker-Biognosys collaboration is expected to create unique synergies between Biognosys’ versatile portfolio of proprietary proteomics services, software, and kits and Bruker’s pioneering timsTOF platform. As a result of the strategic partnership, Biognosys plans to open its first advanced proteomics CRO services laboratory in the United States. Press release.

Quantum-Si Incorporated announced the commercial availability of Platinum, the world’s first next-generation single-molecule protein sequencing platform. Platinum will be offered at an unprecedentedly low price point of $70,000. Its small 19.5-inch by 8.5-inch footprint benchtop design is poised to improve access to high-resolution protein sequencing data significantly. The Company was founded in 2013 by world-renowned scientist, entrepreneur, and National Medal of Technology and Innovation recipient Dr. Jonathan Rothberg, an original pioneer of next-generation genome sequencing. Quantum-Si’s next-generation sequencing system leverages Time Domain Sequencing technology which monitors for amino-acid-specific patterns in fluorescent probe behavior. This means that a single probe can robustly identify multiple distinct amino acids, including those containing post-translational modifications. Press release.