Merging With Machines: A Look at Emerging Neuroscience Technologies

Billionaire entrepreneur and technophile Elon Musk is just one of the prominent futurists echoing the sentiment that we are on the verge of a full merger with machines. “It’s increasingly hard to tell where I end and where the computer begins,” states historian, professor, and New York Times bestselling author Yuval Noah Harari at his keynote address at the Fast Company European Innovation Festival. “In the future, it is likely that the smartphone will not be separated from you at all. It may be embedded in our body or brain, constantly scanning your biometric data and your emotions.”

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Omega Therapeutics

Omega Therapeutics is a development-stage biotechnology company pioneering the first systematic approach to use mRNA therapeutics as programmable epigenetic medicines

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MedTech

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

Article | July 12, 2022

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

Making Predictions by Digitizing Bioprocessing

Article | July 14, 2022

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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MedTech

Immunology: A New Frontier in Medical Science

Article | July 16, 2022

Introduction Recent developments in the bioengineering of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have revolutionized the treatment of numerous rheumatic and immunological disorders. Currently, several immunological disorders are successfully being targeted and treated using innovative medical techniques such as immunotherapy. Leading companies are increasingly investing in research activities to expand the usage and application of immunology for the treatment of various infectious diseases, including multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disorders, lupus, and psoriasis, leading companies are increasingly investing in research activities. Today, the efforts of researchers in immunology, with a long history of study and research, have borne fruit, as bioengineered mAbs are now being employed in clinical practices. Accelerating Investments: Paving the Way for Immunology The increasing prevalence of infectious diseases, cancer, and immune-mediated inflammatory disorders (IMIDs) is raising the need for more precise classification and an in-depth understanding of the pathology underlying these ailments. Numerous leaders in the biotechnology domain are thus focusing on undertaking numerous strategies, such as new facility launches and collaborations, to address the need by finding deeper inroads into immunology and its use in disease treatments. For instance, in 2022, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announced the launch of a visionary research and innovation hub, the James P. Allison Institute, to find new roads in immunotherapy, develop new treatments, and foster groundbreaking science. These developments will result in better diagnosis through the use of selective biomarkers, and early detection of fatal diseases and their treatment, which will prevent complications from happening. Also, the identification of high-risk populations through a deeper understanding of genetic and environmental factors can assist in the prevention of disease through immunotherapy. The Way Forward Immunology has led to the development of biotechnology, making it possible to develop novel drugs and vaccines, as well as diagnostic tests, that can be used to prevent, diagnose, and treat a wide range of autoimmune, infectious, and cancerous diseases. With the rapid advancement in technology and the integration of artificial intelligence, immunology is finding its way into an array of domains and industries, encompassing several research areas including medicine, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and space. Today, not only researchers but also leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies have recognized that conventional therapies with pharmaceutical and chemical products are being replaced by products derived from immunology. This is because they work well for health problems, are environmentally friendly, and are also emerging as a wealth-generating business in the medical field.

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MedTech

Expansion of BioPharma: Opportunities and Investments

Article | July 12, 2022

Biopharmaceutical innovations are among the most ingenious and refined achievements of modern medical science. New concepts, techniques, and therapies are emerging, such as the cell therapy Provenge, which can be used to treat cancer, and gene therapies, which provide even more amazing promises of disease remission and regenerative medicine. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge boom in the pharmaceutical industry. This is because more and more attention is being paid to increasing manufacturing capacity and starting new research on drug development. Biopharma: Leading the Way in the Pharma Sector In the past couple of years, the biopharmaceutical sector has deepened its roots across the medical and pharmaceutical industries, on account of the transformation of pharmaceutical companies towards biotechnology, creating opportunities for growth. Also, growing advancements in technologies such as 3D bioprinting, biosensors, and gene editing, along with the integration of advanced artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality are estimated to further create prospects for growth. According to a study, the biopharmaceutical sector makes nearly $163 billion around the world and grows by more than 8% each year, which is twice as fast as the traditional pharma sector. Massive Investments Directed Towards Biopharma Investing in biotech research and development (R&D) has yielded better returns than the pharma industry average. Hence, a number of pharmaceutical companies are shifting their presence toward biopharma to capitalize on the upcoming opportunities by investing in and expanding their biotechnology infrastructure. For instance, Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., an American manufacturer of scientific instrumentation, reagents and consumables, and software services, announced an investment of $97 million to expand its bioanalytical laboratory operations into three new locations in the U.S. With this investment, the company will add 150,000 square feet of scientific workspace and install the most advanced drug development technologies to produce life-changing medicines for patients in need.

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Omega Therapeutics

Omega Therapeutics is a development-stage biotechnology company pioneering the first systematic approach to use mRNA therapeutics as programmable epigenetic medicines

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Neurocrine Biosciences and Xenon Launch Up-to-$1.7B Epilepsy, Neuroscience Collaboration

GEN | December 02, 2019

Neurocrine Biosciences has agreed to exclusively license and co-develop Xenon Pharmaceuticals’ Phase I epilepsy candidate XEN901 as a treatment for children—as well as develop three preclinical compounds, the companies said today—through a collaboration that could generate up to $1.7 billion for Xenon. XEN901 is designed as a highly selective Nav1.6 sodium channel inhibitor being developed to treat children with SCN8A developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (SCN8A-DEE) and other potential indications, including adult focal epilepsy. Xenon has completed a Phase I trial of a powder-in-capsule formulation of XEN901 in healthy adults. However, Xenon has also developed a pediatric-specific, granule formulation of XEN901, and has completed juvenile toxicology studies intended to support pediatric development of the drug candidate. “With its proven expertise in developing and commercializing treatments for neurological disorders, we believe Neurocrine Biosciences is an ideal partner to maximize the potential value of XEN901 for patients,” Xenon CEO Simon Pimstone, MD, PhD, FRCPC, said in a statement.

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Machine Learning Harnessed To Build Map of the Connectome

Technology Networks | November 08, 2019

The brain is considered to be one of the most complex systems in existence. And while significant headway has been made to understand it, we tend to generate more questions than answers. But now a research team led by Kyoto University has developed a machine learning model that allows scientists to reconstruct neuronal circuitry by measuring signals from the neurons themselves. The model has the potential to elucidate the difference in neuronal computation in different brain regions. To comprehend the brain, we must look at the neurons that construct it. Our entire world of perception runs across these billions of cells in our head. And that is compounded by the exponentially larger number of connections -- known as synapses -- between them, making the path to our understanding a challenge. Shigeru Shinomoto from Kyoto University's School of Science, who headed the project, explains that although it is possible to record the activity of individual neurons in the brain -- and that number has increased dramatically over the last decade -- it is still a challenge to map out how each of these cells connects to each other.

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UK Scientists Speed up Brain Cancer Diagnosis with AI

Labiotech.eu | November 05, 2019

A technique combining a blood test with artificial intelligence (AI), developed by the UK company ClinSpec Diagnostics, could help to prioritize which patients need to be scanned for brain cancer. A team led by researchers at the University of Strathclyde and the University of Edinburgh, UK, trialed the technology on blood samples from 400 people suspected of having brain tumors. The researchers used an existing technique called infrared spectroscopy to screen 20,000 chemicals in their blood, and then used AI to identify the chemicals that signal a brain tumor. The test correctly identified 82% of the patients that would go on to be diagnosed with brain cancer. Patients flagged with this brain cancer test can be prioritized for confirmatory brain scans, and their diagnosis might take just two weeks. In current practice, it’s difficult to diagnose tumors from patients’ symptoms, and the process can take up to two months, with multiple visits to the doctor. The blood test is being developed by Brennan’s collaborator, the UK company ClinSpec Diagnostics. While other groups are working on cancer tests using infrared spectroscopy and AI, ClinSpec’s test is the most advanced, according to Brennan.

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Neurocrine Biosciences and Xenon Launch Up-to-$1.7B Epilepsy, Neuroscience Collaboration

GEN | December 02, 2019

Neurocrine Biosciences has agreed to exclusively license and co-develop Xenon Pharmaceuticals’ Phase I epilepsy candidate XEN901 as a treatment for children—as well as develop three preclinical compounds, the companies said today—through a collaboration that could generate up to $1.7 billion for Xenon. XEN901 is designed as a highly selective Nav1.6 sodium channel inhibitor being developed to treat children with SCN8A developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (SCN8A-DEE) and other potential indications, including adult focal epilepsy. Xenon has completed a Phase I trial of a powder-in-capsule formulation of XEN901 in healthy adults. However, Xenon has also developed a pediatric-specific, granule formulation of XEN901, and has completed juvenile toxicology studies intended to support pediatric development of the drug candidate. “With its proven expertise in developing and commercializing treatments for neurological disorders, we believe Neurocrine Biosciences is an ideal partner to maximize the potential value of XEN901 for patients,” Xenon CEO Simon Pimstone, MD, PhD, FRCPC, said in a statement.

Read More

Machine Learning Harnessed To Build Map of the Connectome

Technology Networks | November 08, 2019

The brain is considered to be one of the most complex systems in existence. And while significant headway has been made to understand it, we tend to generate more questions than answers. But now a research team led by Kyoto University has developed a machine learning model that allows scientists to reconstruct neuronal circuitry by measuring signals from the neurons themselves. The model has the potential to elucidate the difference in neuronal computation in different brain regions. To comprehend the brain, we must look at the neurons that construct it. Our entire world of perception runs across these billions of cells in our head. And that is compounded by the exponentially larger number of connections -- known as synapses -- between them, making the path to our understanding a challenge. Shigeru Shinomoto from Kyoto University's School of Science, who headed the project, explains that although it is possible to record the activity of individual neurons in the brain -- and that number has increased dramatically over the last decade -- it is still a challenge to map out how each of these cells connects to each other.

Read More

UK Scientists Speed up Brain Cancer Diagnosis with AI

Labiotech.eu | November 05, 2019

A technique combining a blood test with artificial intelligence (AI), developed by the UK company ClinSpec Diagnostics, could help to prioritize which patients need to be scanned for brain cancer. A team led by researchers at the University of Strathclyde and the University of Edinburgh, UK, trialed the technology on blood samples from 400 people suspected of having brain tumors. The researchers used an existing technique called infrared spectroscopy to screen 20,000 chemicals in their blood, and then used AI to identify the chemicals that signal a brain tumor. The test correctly identified 82% of the patients that would go on to be diagnosed with brain cancer. Patients flagged with this brain cancer test can be prioritized for confirmatory brain scans, and their diagnosis might take just two weeks. In current practice, it’s difficult to diagnose tumors from patients’ symptoms, and the process can take up to two months, with multiple visits to the doctor. The blood test is being developed by Brennan’s collaborator, the UK company ClinSpec Diagnostics. While other groups are working on cancer tests using infrared spectroscopy and AI, ClinSpec’s test is the most advanced, according to Brennan.

Read More

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