Research Roundup: Alzheimer’s, Schizophrenia, Diabetes and More

MARK TERRY | April 26, 2019

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It’s well known that the accumulation of amyloid beta proteins in the brain are significantly involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, even if there’s some debate as to exactly what the role is. Monomers of amyloid beta, in other words, the proteins by themselves, have specific jobs they do. But when they accumulate, that’s where the problems start. At least, that’s been the thinking. Now, researchers at the University of Washington have found evidencethat smaller aggregates of amyloid beta are the toxic components of the disease. They published their research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Spotlight

Vericel Corporation

Founded in 1989, Vericel (formerly Aastrom Biosciences), is dedicated to the development of patient-specific expanded cellular therapies for use in the treatment of patients with severe diseases and conditions. The company markets two cell therapy products in the United States, Carticel® (autologous cultured chondrocytes), an autologous chondrocyte implant for the treatment of cartilage defects in the knee and Epicel® (cultured epidermal autografts), a permanent skin replacement for the treatment of patients with deep dermal or full thickness burns greater than or equal to 30% of total body surface area. Vericel is also developing MACI, a third-generation autologous chondrocyte implant for the treatment of cartilage defects in the knee, and ixmyelocel-T, a patient specific multicellular therapy for the treatment of advanced heart failure due to ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

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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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Spotlight

Vericel Corporation

Founded in 1989, Vericel (formerly Aastrom Biosciences), is dedicated to the development of patient-specific expanded cellular therapies for use in the treatment of patients with severe diseases and conditions. The company markets two cell therapy products in the United States, Carticel® (autologous cultured chondrocytes), an autologous chondrocyte implant for the treatment of cartilage defects in the knee and Epicel® (cultured epidermal autografts), a permanent skin replacement for the treatment of patients with deep dermal or full thickness burns greater than or equal to 30% of total body surface area. Vericel is also developing MACI, a third-generation autologous chondrocyte implant for the treatment of cartilage defects in the knee, and ixmyelocel-T, a patient specific multicellular therapy for the treatment of advanced heart failure due to ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

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