High-tech Melanin Might Help Put Technology Inside Our Bodies

BILL ANDREWS | March 27, 2019

We have a complicated relationship with melanin, the natural chemical pigment that gives color to our eyes, hair and skin. It protects our skin from harmful radiation from the sun, but can also lead to cancer. Theres also the whole matter of discrimination based on differences in physical appearance caused by melanin, which we as a species are apparently still working on.Scientifically, things are no different. A type of melanin known as eumelaninis electrically conductive, meaning it could be a great material for biotechnology, since our bodies are already familiar with the stuff and its a biodegradable substance. But, this kind of melanin is unfortunately not quite conductive enough to be useful right now - electricity just doesnt flow as well across it as we need it to.

Spotlight

Fibrocell Science

Fibrocell is an autologous cell and gene therapy company translating personalized biologics into medical breakthroughs for diseases affecting the skin and connective tissue. Fibrocell’s most advanced product candidate, FCX-007, is the subject of a Phase 1/2 clinical trial for the treatment of recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB). Fibrocell is also developing FCX-013, the Company's product candidate for the treatment of moderate to severe localized scleroderma. Fibrocell’s gene-therapy portfolio is being developed in collaboration with Precigen, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), a leader in synthetic biology.

OTHER ARTICLES

Wisconsin biotech companies could play key roles in long-term economic recovery from COVID-19 pandemic

Article | April 19, 2020

Whether it’s called a modern “Manhattan Project” or a medical moon shot, the concept of long-term economic recovery rests on how confident people are they won’t risk serious illness by venturing forth in public again. Wisconsin stands to be a significant part of such an undertaking, whatever it’s called. The shorter-term debate is well under way over the gradual lifting of COVID-19 emergency rules, such as the now-extended “safer-at-home” order in Wisconsin. At least a dozen states, including regional coalitions on the East and West coasts, are exploring next steps as they seek to balance responses to the virus with calls for reopening the economy, at least, in part. Wisconsin’s ability to shape longer-term responses will come from private and public resources, which range from companies engaged in production of diagnostics.

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MEDICAL

Better Purification and Recovery in Bioprocessing

Article | August 2, 2021

In the downstream portion of any bioprocess, one must pick through the dross before one can seize the gold the biotherapeutic that the bioprocess was always meant to generate. Unfortunately, the dross is both voluminous and various. And the biotherapeutic gold, unlike real gold, is corruptible. That is, it can suffer structural damage and activity loss. When discarding the dross and collecting the gold, bioprocessors must be efficient and gentle. They must, to the extent possible, eliminate contaminants and organic debris while ensuring that biotherapeutics avoid aggregation-inducing stresses and retain their integrity during purification and recovery. Anything less compromises purity and reduces yield. To purify and recover biotherapeutics efficiently and gently, bioprocessors must avail themselves of the most appropriate tools and techniques. Here, we talk with several experts about which tools and techniques can help bioprocessors overcome persistent challenges. Some of these experts also touch on new approaches that can help bioprocessors address emerging challenges.

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DIAGNOSTICS

Making Predictions by Digitizing Bioprocessing

Article | April 20, 2021

With advances in data analytics and machine learning, the move from descriptive and diagnostic analytics to predictive and prescriptive analytics and controls—allowing us to better forecast and understand what will happen and thus optimize process outcomes—is not only feasible but inevitable, according to Bonnie Shum, principal engineer, pharma technical innovation, technology & manufacturing sciences and technology at Genentech. “Well-trained artificial intelligence systems can help drive better decision making and how data is analyzed from drug discovery to process development and to manufacturing processes,” she says. Those advances, though, only really matter when they improve the lives of patients. That’s exactly what Shum expects. “The convergence of digital transformation and operational/processing changes will be critical for the facilities of the future and meeting the needs of our patients,” she continues. “Digital solutions may one day provide fully automated bioprocessing, eliminating manual intervention and enabling us to anticipate potential process deviations to prevent process failures, leading to real-time release and thus faster access for patients.” To turn Bioprocessing 4.0 into a production line for precision healthcare, real-time release and quickly manufacturing personalized medicines will be critical. Adding digitization and advanced analytics wherever possible will drive those improvements. In fact, many of these improvements, especially moving from descriptive to predictive bioprocessing, depend on more digitization.

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5 Biotech Stocks Winning the Coronavirus Race

Article | April 13, 2020

There are quite a few companies that have found ways to grow their business during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true for a number of biotechs now working on developing a potential treatment for, or vaccine against, the virus; shares of such companies have largely surged over the past couple of months. Although many of these treatments and vaccines are still have quite a way to go before they're widely available, it's still worth taking some time to look through what's going on in the COVID-19 space right now. Here are five biotech stocks that are leading the way when it comes to addressing COVID-19. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) wasn't among the initial wave of companies to announce a potential COVID-19 drug. However, investor excitement quickly sent shares surging when the company announced that its rheumatoid arthritis drug, Kevzara, could help treat COVID-19 patients.

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Spotlight

Fibrocell Science

Fibrocell is an autologous cell and gene therapy company translating personalized biologics into medical breakthroughs for diseases affecting the skin and connective tissue. Fibrocell’s most advanced product candidate, FCX-007, is the subject of a Phase 1/2 clinical trial for the treatment of recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB). Fibrocell is also developing FCX-013, the Company's product candidate for the treatment of moderate to severe localized scleroderma. Fibrocell’s gene-therapy portfolio is being developed in collaboration with Precigen, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), a leader in synthetic biology.

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