Johns Hopkins, NASA to Send Human Heart ‘Tissue-on-a-Chip’ Into Space, New Adverse Event Detection Product Aids Pharmacovigilance Surveillance, More

March 30, 2023

March 30, 2023 | A proprietary deep learning platform that identifies novel molecules through protein-ligand co-folding; PacBio’s long-read sequencing systems help researchers scale their interrogation of the full genome; a cardiovascular disease detection platform that combines the latest advancements in applied machine learning with one of the most ubiquitous medical devices in the world: the stethoscope; and more. 

Innovators at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility formed the lab’s new Biomedical Research & Innovation Center (BRIC). The more than 1,850 scientists conducting their research there focus on what the lab’s particle accelerator can do to uncover new information about the atom's nucleus and enable a better understanding of our universe. Jefferson Lab’s experts develop, build, test, and improve detector technologies that can be used to better image plants in the lab, find hidden tumors in a woman’s breast, or catch radiation and stop it before it reaches groundwater. More efficient particle accelerators can sterilize medical instruments or remove forever chemicals from wastewater with a single zap. The new center aims to help these innovators come together with like-minded colleagues. BRIC members remain dedicated to their current departments, with their BRIC membership as an added activity to boost their innovation efforts. Press release

The Kansas City Area Development Council announced that Veeva Systems would create over 100 engineering, product, sales, and services jobs across the Midwest in the life sciences cloud software industry. With the option to work from home or in the office as part of Veeva’s Work Anywhere approach, the Lightwell Building in downtown Kansas City will serve as a collaborative engineering hub. The new office will have private workspaces for focused work and carefully crafted areas for meetings and social interaction. Veeva is hiring software engineers, product managers, and sales and services leaders in the Midwest to help life sciences companies bring medicines to market faster and more efficiently. Press release

BetaLife Pte is collaborating with the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR) to accelerate the development of next-generation cell-based therapy for diabetes. BetaLife has acquired human-induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) technology rights from A*STAR. This technology enables iPSCs to generate a renewable and sustainable human stem cell resource for any mature cell type of interest. In addition, BetaLife and A*STAR are embarking on a research collaboration to generate highly curated human iPSC banks that capture the genetic diversity of Asian ethnicities and develop human iPSC-derived pancreatic islet cells. This collaboration combines A*STAR’s capabilities in stem cells and diabetes biology with BetaLife’s infrastructure and proprietary platforms for the scale-up and therapeutic development of an off-the-shelf human iPSC-based therapy. Press release

Benchling announced new products and services focused on driving long-term success in the modern R&D lab. Benchling’s Solution Accelerators address the industry-specific digital requirements of biotechs with pre-built data models, templates, dashboards, and end-to-end workflows alongside capabilities for experimental tracking, sample management, and process modeling. The result is accelerated time to value, with up to 50% faster delivery timelines, increased data consistency, and operational efficiency gains. Benchling Learning Labs and Success Packages improve digital skills in the lab, provide expert support from trained scientists and technologists, and ensure the highest quality outcomes for customers. Benchling Learning Labs offers flexible, on-demand training for Benchling users. Individuals can skill up and get certified on topics ranging from conducting essential R&D in Benchling to performing administration tasks. Press release

FutureNeuro announced two collaborative research projects with IQVIA and Novartis Ireland to advance the use of data in healthcare research and clinical care delivery. The DataScape project, in collaboration with IQVIA, explores key stakeholders' attitudes, expectations, and concerns on using health data for healthcare improvement and research. The Learning Health System in a Digital hospital project focuses on developing a prototype Learning Health System that will integrate patient data from clinical dashboards with research analytics. Through industry partnerships, FutureNeuro aims to create new technologies and solutions for treating, diagnosing, and monitoring chronic and rare neurological diseases. Press release

Waters Corporation introduced Alliance iS, the next-generation intelligent High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) System, designed to reduce compliance risk by adding new levels of proactive error detection, troubleshooting, and ease of use. When combined with Waters’ compliance ready Empower Chromatography Software and eConnect HPLC Columns, the Alliance iS HPLC System streamlines the task of making accurate and precise measurements by detecting and eliminating common errors by up to 40%. The system also integrates with the cloud-native waters_connect System Monitoring Software enabling real-time monitoring of the Alliance iS HPLC System and any other chromatography instruments controlled by Empower Software. Press release

CHARM Therapeutics announced a strategic discovery collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb to identify and optimize compounds against Bristol Myers Squibb selected targets. CHARM will leverage DragonFold—its proprietary deep learning platform that identifies novel molecules through protein-ligand co-folding—to discover novel compounds. CHARM is also responsible for the early discovery of compounds against targets of interest to Bristol Myers Squibb, which has the option to license and develop compounds from the collaboration. Press release

Aman Chauhan, M.D., and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have embarked on a mission to make Sylvester a top-level research center for neuroendocrine tumors and to make Miami a first-choice destination for patients seeking treatment for these complex cancers. They are currently conducting two trials in first-in-human phase 1 studies. One is looking at adding a drug called triapine—a radiation sensitizer—to a standard-of-care radioactive drug, lutetium Lu 177 dotatate (Lutathera), to manage neuroendocrine tumors. That trial is moving to an NCI-funded national randomized phase 2 study, on which Chauhan is co-PI. The other phase 1 study is looking at combining a drug called peposertib—a DNA-dependent protein kinase inhibitor—with a radiation-based drug. Press release

The European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases will present a special online session updating the state of the antibiotic landscape next month. The second presentation at this session will explore if the current antibiotic pipeline is enough to address the needs of countries with a high burden of drug-resistant infections. The talk will conclude with possible solutions to tackle the current crisis—including the streamlining and fast-tracking of clinical trials assessing new antimicrobials; public-private partnerships across the short, medium, and long-term, more investment in basic science research that underpins antibiotic development, and other financial incentives including tax-breaks and better reimbursement models from national health agencies. Press release

Emory University announced an agreement with Pfizer to advance research addressing the need for additional effective COVID-19 treatment options to save patients’ lives. Under the terms of the deal, Emory University’s Schinazi Laboratory and Pfizer will work together to identify and evaluate potential antiviral compounds for the treatment of COVID-19. If this collaboration advances the preclinical development of these compounds, Pfizer will have the option to exercise exclusive rights to the leading clinical candidates and be solely responsible for further development activities. Press release

Charles River Laboratories International launched Apollo, a secure, cloud-based platform for drug developers that provides access to study data, study milestones, documents, cost estimates, and program planning tools to save time and enhance the client experience. The platform’s capabilities are designed to support clients with safety assessment and toxicology studies. Using the cloud-based platform, clients now have access to self-service tools designed to reduce barriers, access the status of studies, data insights and analysis, and download study documents immediately. Additionally, Apollo offers access to a self-service quoting tool, allowing enhanced budget forecasting. Press release

NeoGenomics announced the expansion of their next-generation sequencing portfolio of innovative products with the commercial availability of multiple tests, including Neo Comprehensive - Solid Tumor, a comprehensive genomic profile (CGP) for solid tumor cancers and Neo Comprehensive - Myeloid Disorders, a CGP for myeloid neoplasms. In parallel with the two product launches, NeoGenomics is also introducing two software resources to complement its testing menu: NeoAccess, a test requisitioning tool that includes clinical decision support, the up-front patient benefits check, and prior authorization assistance abilities, and NeoSeek, a platform that allows clinicians the ability to mine their previous testing data to identify their patients who may be biomarker eligible for a new therapy or clinical trial. Press release

Insilico Medicine has integrated advanced AI chat functionality based on recent advances in large language models into its PandaOmics platform. The new feature, ChatPandaGPT, enables researchers to have natural language conversations with the platform and efficiently navigate and analyze large datasets. PandaOmics is an AI-driven target discovery platform developed by Insilico Medicine that applies deep learning models to identify therapeutic targets associated with a given disease through a combination of omics data analysis. PandaOmics’ knowledge graphs offer insights into the molecular mechanisms of diseases and the biological activities of genes and compounds in the context of a disease. It also reveals the most promising drug targets and biomarkers. The integration between ChatPandaGPT and PandaOmics is available now, allowing researchers to begin navigating and analyzing large datasets and making important discoveries more efficiently. Press release

Cytiva and TerraCycle expanded their filtration device recycling program globally. Customers in the pharmaceutical, food and beverage, municipal water, and bioethanol industries in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom can now recycle their Whatman and Pall Life Sciences filtration devices. TerraCycle created the Zero Waste BoxTM to provide solutions for difficult-to-recycle materials not accepted by standard curbside recycling programs. Each Zero Waste Box holds up to 70 lbs of waste or roughly 10,000 syringe filters. Customers can also recycle a mixture of capsule filters, transfer pipettes, or polypropylene syringes. Once collected, the used filtration devices are processed into recycled material suitable for composite decking, shipping pallets, and compression molding. Press release

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health and Cancer Research UK, announced nine new research challenges to tackle some of the most profound problems in cancer research. The research initiative aims to inspire bold new ideas with the greatest potential for advancing cancer research and improving patient outcomes. The nine new challenges are as follows: solid tumors in children, cancer inequities, obesity, physical activity, aging and cancer, T-cell receptors, early-onset cancers, cancer cell plasticity, retrotransposable elements, and chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicities. Interested teams should submit an expression of interest by June 22, 2023. The final determinations of short-listed teams will be announced in August 2023. In March 2024, NCI and Cancer Research UK expect to announce the selection of up to four winning teams. For more information about the Cancer Grand Challenges program, visit Press release

COTA announced a new partnership with Genomic Testing Cooperative (GTC). The two companies are integrating COTA’s deep clinical oncology real-world data with GTC’s comprehensive genomics testing data. This strategic and oncology-specific partnership, grounded in deep, comprehensive clinical data, will support more detailed, personalized cancer research, particularly across early discovery and translational epidemiology functions. GTC tissue-based, and liquid biopsy testing uniquely leverages DNA and RNA sequencing for both solid and hematologic cancers to generate information on mutations, chromosomal structural abnormalities, biomarkers that can replace or complement immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, and standard tumor markers. This comprehensive profiling is captured before treatment and frequently after relapse so a fuller picture of treatment impact on a specific patient population can be understood. Press release

The Pistoia Alliance launched the Pistoia Alliance Pharma Innovation Council. The 13 next-generation leaders from large global pharmaceutical companies reflect the diversity of membership viewpoints. The Council will explore common challenges at a grassroots level and seed ideas for new pre-competitive projects aligned with the Alliance’s strategic themes: emerging sciences and technology, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of R&D, and empowering the patient. The Pharma Innovation Council aims to produce one new project idea per theme and will bring together interested parties from member companies. New projects will sit alongside the Alliance’s current portfolio, including the IDMP Ontology Project, DataFAIRy Bioassay Annotation Project, and Diversity & Inclusion in STEM Leadership program. The Council will meet again on April 25th to discuss their new project proposals. Press release.  

PacBio announced the first customer shipments of Revio long-read sequencing systems. The Revio system features significant advances in SMRT Cell design, computing, and system architecture. Together, this enables a dramatic increase in throughput and lower sequencing costs with the trusted power of HiFi chemistry. With the Revio system, researchers will be able to scale their interrogation of the full genome: from telomere-to-telomere with phasing information, small variants, structural variants, and epigenetic profiles, all in the same run. Among the first customers receiving Revio systems are many who have deep roots in the Human Genome Project: Baylor College of Medicine, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (Broad), Wellcome Sanger Institute, and Washington University in St. Louis. Press release

Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers are collaborating with NASA to send human heart “tissue-on-a-chip” specimens into space as early as this month. The project is designed to monitor the tissue for changes in heart muscle cells’ mitochondria—their power supply—and ability to contract in low-gravity conditions. The tissue samples will be launched aboard SpaceX CRS-27, a resupply mission to the International Space Station, slated for liftoff at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Astronauts on board during the mission will also introduce three FDA-approved medicines to the samples to prevent heart cell changes known or suspected to occur in those undertaking long-duration spaceflights. Scientists will focus on the proteins activated during tissue inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction. The astronauts aboard the space station will also test whether any three medicines can stave off the problems anticipated in space-bound heart cells. Press release

Thermo Fisher Scientific provides proteomics and biopharmaceutical research laboratories with a new line of low-flow HPLC columns that improve biologically complex samples' separation performance and stability. Using a unique micro-pillar separation structure, the Thermo Scientific µPAC Neo HPLC Columns enable researchers to investigate proteomics samples in greater detail, from accurately identifying peptides to determining protein quantities and discovering disease biomarkers and post-translational modifications. The newest addition to the portfolio is the µPAC Neo low-load trapping column which is ideally suited for the smallest samples sizes in single-cell proteomics separations and features built-in nanoViper connections to the Vanquish Neo UHPLC systems for ease of use and reduced risk of errors. Press release

Personalis announced that its Board of Directors had appointed Christopher Hall as CEO and a member of the Board, effective immediately, in addition to his role as President. Hall will lead the Company’s efforts to drive a new paradigm for active cancer management to guide care from biopsy throughout the patient's life. The Board also promoted Aaron Tachibana to the extended leadership position of Chief Operating Officer, effectively immediately, in addition to his role as Chief Financial Officer. In addition, Dr. Richard Chen has been promoted to Executive Vice President, R&D, effective immediately, in addition to his role as Chief Medical Officer. Press release

Lucem Health announced the availability of its new early disease detection solution, Lucem Health Reveal, which leverages existing electronic health record data to identify patients at a higher risk of severe or chronic disease. Part of the Mayo Clinic Platform portfolio, Lucem Health Reveal solutions surface previously undiscovered insights in readily available clinical data and bring proactive AI insights that may reduce delays in diagnosis and treatment, most notably in diabetes or lower GI disorders. Reveal solutions leverage the promise of AI for early disease detection and respect clinicians’ limited capacity for added clicks, new workloads, or administrative burden. Press release

BioLife Solutions announced the launch of Ultraguard, the first ever non-toxic, non-hazardous, and non-flammable -70°C phase change material (PCM) for ultra-low temperature (ULT) protection. The two primary customer applications for the use of Ultraguard include temperature holdover in cases where ULT freezers are without power for various reasons, and in benchtop biologic material storage as an alternative to dry ice, addressing any limitations or risks associated with supply, cost, or safety. By combining ULT freezers with -70°C PCM, organizations now have an added option for “emergency backup” to protect against uncertainties. The Ultraguard PCM form factor is an ergonomic-friendly plastic bottle or “brick” conditioned from a liquid to a frozen solid state by freezing below -80°C to store the necessary cooling energy.  Press release

BGI Genomics' multiplex bacterial resistance genes detection kit, multiplex nucleic acid kit for respiratory pathogens, and central nervous system (CNS) pathogen identification test kit based on PM Easy Lab—a fully automated medical PCR analysis system—have received market authorization from the Thailand Food and Drug Administration and the Saudi Food & Drug Authority. These three products facilitate clinical diagnosis and promote the informed use of antibiotics, especially for patients with CNS or respiratory tract infections. This multiplex bacterial resistance gene test kit can simultaneously detect four common drug-resistant bacteria through fluorescent PCR. The multiplex nucleic acid test kit enables the simultaneous detection of 14 common respiratory tract infection pathogens. The CNS pathogen identification kit detects the 12 most common pathogens of CNS infections. The PM Easy Lab pathogenic nucleic acid rapid test solution offers comprehensive coverage of a wide range of infectious agents, thereby addressing clinical pain points in a one-stop and cost-effective manner. Press release

Eko announced the launch of the SENSORA Cardiac Disease Detection Platform. SENSORA currently features AI that objectively identifies structural murmurs, a sign of valvular heart disease, and Care Pathway Analytics software that provides downstream visibility and metrics of the patient journey through the healthcare system. SENSORA is a cardiovascular disease detection platform that combines the latest advancements in applied machine learning with one of the most ubiquitous medical devices in the world: the stethoscope. Care Pathway Analytics is designed to assist with critical decision-making by identifying care gaps that can be transformed into improved operational efficiencies, including reduced delays in delivery of care, length of stay, and readmission rates, all while improving patient and physician satisfaction. Eko is committed to impacting patients and clinicians by creating advanced solutions that meet their needs, enable early detection of heart and lung diseases, and save lives. Press release

Case Western Reserve University completed an exclusive license agreement with Atlanta-based RORA Biologics for intellectual property to develop new therapies to treat HIV and certain kinds of cancer. The deal gives RORA-Bio exclusive international rights to T-cell memory stem-cell (RORA cells) technologies. RORA cells are a newly discovered, durable T-cell population associated with positive patient clinical outcomes. Chimeric antigen receptor therapy (CAR-T) allows T cells—a type of white blood cell—to be altered in a lab to find and destroy cancer cells. RORA-Bio is using RORA cells to make novel, “first-in-class” CAR-T drugs with the potential to direct more persistent attacks against tumor cells. The exclusive worldwide license is exchanged for equity and other payments for products developed with the technology. Press release

Watson-Marlow Fluid Technology Solutions (WMFTS) announced that the company now offers the KROHNE FLEXMAG 4050 C electromagnetic flowmeter for biopharmaceutical customers. As a highly accurate and reliable flow measuring system that seamlessly integrates with other WMFTS products, it reinforces the company’s position as a provider of total-solution packages for customers utilizing fluid path processes. With the KROHNE FLEXMAG 4050 C electromagnetic flowmeter, WMFTS customers can verify the accurate flow conditions of compatible Watson-Marlow pumps. The KROHNE flowmeter is the first single-use electromagnetic flowmeter on the market and provides accurate readings independent of the fluid's pressure, temperature, and viscosity. The KROHNE flowmeter offers a stable, direct, and precise fluid flow measurement that does not drift over time. Press release

The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) called for new Driver Projects to join a rapidly expanding community that boosts responsible genomic data sharing to benefit human health. Groups with projects to embed genomics in healthcare, set genomic data sharing policies, expand data access for specific diseases, and achieve other goals related to the responsible use of human genomic data are invited to apply. The application is open for submissions until 30 April 2023. The new Driver Projects will shape how we access, share, study, and use genomic data across borders. GA4GH is the international standards organization for genomics. Driver Projects are real-world genomic data initiatives that help develop and pilot GA4GH tools. This collaboration ensures that GA4GH produces relevant standards reflecting the needs of the broader genomics community. Initiatives interested in becoming a GA4GH Driver Project can review the criteria and expectations. Press release

Primordial Genetics launched its proprietary RNA polymerases to advance safe, novel mRNA-based vaccines and therapeutics. The collection of enzymes is now available for evaluation and licensing and paves the way for the clinical viability of mRNA-based medicines. mRNA-based therapy developments enabled the recent regulatory approval of mRNA vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 prevention. The industry standard T7 RNA polymerase, used to synthesize mRNA from a DNA template in vitro, is inefficient and generates unwanted double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) byproducts that can trigger adverse immune responses. Primordial Genetics’ Prima RNApols overcome these obstacles by enabling production with higher yields, higher purity of target RNAs, and significantly lower dsRNA levels. Prima RNApols are now available for evaluation via a three-month trial. Press release announced a new adverse event (AE) detection product that surpasses the shortcomings of conventional pharmacovigilance literature surveillance. AE Alert offers a revolutionary solution anchored by four key product features: comprehensive global literature coverage, relevant information delivery, real-time content aggregation, advanced analytics, and an easy-to-use online interface. In addition, AE Alert leverages technology and algorithms to expand the volume and diversity of sources while accelerating the review process so that pharmaceutical companies can coordinate with regulatory authorities, modify label information, and quickly alert healthcare professionals about product updates when necessary. Press release.