Bionaut Labs | November 29, 2022
Bionaut Labs, the company that uses microscale robots to revolutionize the treatment of central nervous system diseases and disorders, announced $43.2M in a Series B round of financing led by Khosla Ventures, bringing the company’s total financing raised to date to $63.2 million. Also participating in the round are new investors Deep Insight, OurCrowd, PSPRS, Sixty Degree Capital, Dolby Family Ventures, GISEV Family Ventures, What if Ventures, Tintah Grace and Gaingels, along with all existing investors - Upfront Ventures, BOLD Capital Partners, Revolution VC, and Compound.
Many diseases of the brain and central nervous system are hard to treat because it is difficult to deliver therapeutics beyond the blood-brain barrier and reach deep locations in the midbrain with precision. Through magnetic propulsion, Bionauts™ can navigate the depths of the human body to deliver drugs locally, generating efficacy and avoiding side effects and toxicity from systemically delivered drugs. By reaching the midbrain safely through novel routes, Bionaut Labs aims to develop solutions to treat the most debilitating conditions including Parkinson’s disease and Huntington's disease, malignant glioma and hydrocephalus.
Funds will be used to advance clinical development of the company’s lead programs against malignant glioma brain tumors and Dandy-Walker Syndrome (a rare pediatric neurological disorder). Funds will also support further development of its proprietary Bionaut™ treatment platform, allowing future expansion of clinical targets and progression through Bionaut’s two accelerated FDA designations. Bionaut Labs will release major pre-clinical data packages from IDE and IND enabling studies in 2023, with the goal of initiating human clinical trials in 2024.
“There has been a dearth of innovation around treatments for conditions that cause tremendous suffering, in large part because past failures have discouraged even the best of researchers. Bionaut Labs remains committed to finding new ways to treat these devastating diseases, which are long overdue for a breakthrough.”
Michael Shpigelmacher, co-founder and CEO, Bionaut Labs
Bionaut Labs is co-founded by two robotics entrepreneurs, Michael Shpigelmacher and Aviad Maizels, who previously co-founded PrimeSense, the company that developed the facial recognition tech behind iPhone’s FaceID. Its leadership and medical team consists of experts across robotics, neuroscience, biology and drug development.
“We are extremely excited about the transformative potential Bionaut presents in treating debilitating neurological disorders,” said Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures. “Anatomically precise treatment will make traditionally-used methods seem archaic, and Bionaut is at the forefront of this movement.”
“Bionaut Labs tackles a complex pharmaceutical problem which many companies have failed to address in the past,” said Giammaria Giuliani, director of the GISEV Family Office. “As pioneers of micro-robotics for CNS treatment, the company enjoys a strong first-mover advantage and carries great promise.”
As neurodegeneration continues to grow in prevalence in the aging global population, Bionaut Labs offers unprecedented therapeutic access to the brain and other hard-to-reach locations in the body, diagnosing and treating diseases that were previously unreachable. Bionaut Labs will transform the way the biopharmaceutical industry develops treatments by offering a mechanism to engineer the therapeutic index for optimal efficacy and safety.
About Bionaut Labs
Bionaut Labs is a biotech company pioneering precision micro-technology with the deployment of microscale robots to remove the barriers of localized treatment and detection of diseases. Magnetic propulsion-controlled Bionauts navigate to deep locations in the human body and brain safely and precisely through non-linear 3D trajectories, making Bionaut Labs the first to access the midbrain through previously inaccessible anatomical routes. Bionauts can perform localized treatment, detection and precise medical procedures to deliver outcomes that were previously unattainable. The FDA has granted Bionaut Labs a Humanitarian Use Device designation for BNL-201, a micro-robot design to treat Dandy Walker Malformation, and an Orphan Drug Designation for BNL 101, a drug-device combination for treatment of malignant glioma.
CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Biocytogen | November 28, 2022
Biocytogen Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd. announced that it has entered into an evaluation and option agreement with ADC Therapeutics SA. Biocytogen will grant ADC Therapeutics a license to evaluate Biocytogen’s proprietary antibodies against three tumor targets, with an option to license selected antibodies at a later date for global ADC development and commercialization. Biocytogen reserves all global rights for these antibodies beyond ADC development. Biocytogen will receive an upfront payment. For each option exercised, Biocytogen will be entitled to an option-exercise fee, and development and commercial milestone payments, which potentially total tens of millions of US dollars, as well as single-digit royalties on net sales.
Under the agreement, Biocytogen will provide ADC Therapeutics with monoclonal and/or biparatopic antibodies directed against three tumor targets, generated through Biocytogen’s Project Integrum. ADC Therapeutics will carry out feasibility studies and be responsible for further development and commercialization of the ADC products if the company exercises an option.
“ADC Therapeutics is a leader in the development and commercialization of ADCs. We believe this collaboration with ADC Therapeutics will underscore the value of Biocytogen’s proprietary antibody discovery and screening platforms. We’ve been dedicated to expanding the possibilities of antibody-based therapeutics in disease treatment, through the exploration of new types of targets and modalities through Project Integrum. The combination of Biocytogen’s strength in antibody development with ADC Therapeutics’ expertise and track record in payload and linker technology may lead to the generation of novel ADC medicines for unmet medical needs in the future.”
Dr. Yuelei Shen, President and CEO of Biocytogen
“We are pleased to enter this collaboration with Biocytogen as we continue expanding our toolbox to realize the full potential of our ADC platform,” said Patrick van Berkel, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of ADC Therapeutics. “We look forward to evaluating the fully human antibodies from Biocytogen’s proprietary discovery platform, which have the potential to accelerate the development of our novel ADCs.”
Biocytogen is a global biotechnology company that drives the research and development of novel antibody-based drugs with innovative technologies. Using its proprietary RenMabTM /RenLite® mice platforms for fully human monoclonal and bispecific antibody development, Biocytogen has integrated its in vivo drug efficacy screening platforms and strong clinical development expertise to streamline the entire drug development process. Biocytogen is undertaking a large-scale project to develop first-in-class and/or best-in-class antibody drugs for more than 1000 targets, known as Project Integrum. This project has resulted in 28 drug co-development agreements and 16 RenMiceTM licensing agreements with companies around the world, including several partnerships with multinational pharmaceutical companies (MNCs). The company's pipeline includes 12 core products, among which two products are in phase II multi-regional clinical trials and two products are in phase I. Headquartered in Beijing, Biocytogen has branches in Haimen Jiangsu, Shanghai, Boston, USA and Heidelberg, Germany.
About ADC Therapeutics
ADC Therapeutics is a commercial-stage biotechnology company improving the lives of those affected by cancer with its next-generation, targeted antibody drug conjugates. The Company is advancing its proprietary PBD-based ADC technology to transform the treatment paradigm for patients with hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.
ADC Therapeutics’ CD19-directed ADC ZYNLONTA is approved by the FDA for the treatment of relapsed or refractory diffuse large b-cell lymphoma after two or more lines of systemic therapy. ZYNLONTA is also in development in combination with other agents. In addition to ZYNLONTA, ADC Therapeutics has multiple ADCs in ongoing clinical and preclinical development.
XtalPi Inc. | November 25, 2022
XtalPi announced today that they are embarking on a strategic collaboration with CK Life Sciences, a member of the CK Hutchison Group. XtalPi and CK Life Sciences will leverage their respective expertise to jointly develop a novel AI tumour vaccine R&D platform to improve the discovery and design capabilities of tumour vaccines and accelerate the development of more vaccine types. The goal of this collaboration is to realize precision treatment for patients worldwide.
According to public information, there were nearly 20 million newly diagnosed cancer patients worldwide in 2021, of which about 4.5 million cases came from China. Many cancer types lead to detrimental outcomes, with high morbidity and mortality, and there remains a large unmet clinical need. Tumour vaccines targeting different tumour neoantigens, tumour-associated antigens and tumour-specific antigens in patients can be designed for use as immunotherapy, to activate the patient's own specific immune responses.
Currently, there are only two therapeutic tumour vaccines— sipuleucel-T for melanoma and Bacillus Calmette-Guérin for bladder cancer, as well as preventive tumour vaccines against human papillomavirus infection and hepatitis B infection approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Recently, several other tumour vaccines have entered clinical development and evidence of efficacy has begun to emerge.
According to Mordor Intelligence, the global cancer vaccine market size was US$6.79 billion in 2021 and will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 11.53% from 2022 to 2026. The expected market size by 2026 will be approximately US$12 billion.
Currently, the design and preclinical development process for tumour vaccines is complex and lengthy, hindering the efficiency and success rate of tumour vaccine research and development.
Incorporating XtalPi's industry expertise in AI computation and robotic automation, this collaboration aims to build an AI tumour vaccine R&D platform that applies advanced AI algorithms and high-precision molecular modeling to predict and design a variety of tumour vaccines that can activate specific immune responses to kill tumours. The tumour vaccines will be screened and verified through automated experiments, and through integrating algorithmic feedback to optimise activity and efficacy, the platform is expected to generate preclinical tumour vaccine candidate compounds with robust immune activity.
"As a company headquartered in the Hetao Shenzhen-Hong Kong Science and Technology Innovation Cooperation Zone, XtalPi is committed to realising the synergies between Shenzhen and Hong Kong by creating a new paradigm for innovation in the Greater Bay Area. Empowered by the latest technological advancements in automation, artificial intelligence is accelerating more innovative and diverse areas in drug research and development. Together with CK Life Sciences, we are committed to overcome conventional limitations and discover diverse applications for cutting-edge technologies. We believe the AI cancer vaccine platform jointly developed by CK Life Sciences and XtalPi will inspire the global scientific community to progress vaccine research and development and fast-track key development milestones for cancer vaccines. We are confident that this collaboration will significantly facilitate the scientific research exchange in the Greater Bay Area."
Dr. Shuhao Wen, co-founder and chairman of XtalPi
Dr. Melvin Toh, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of CK Life Sciences, comments: "The R&D of tumour vaccines is one of the key development directions of CK Life Sciences. The cooperation with XtalPi will apply XtalPi's AI algorithm, molecular modeling and automated experiments to speed up the R&D process, improve the success rate, and increase the efficacy of tumour vaccines."
Founded in 2014, XtalPi founders recognized a common hurdle in drug development having to do with solid polymorphism, which could be successfully tackled with quantum physics predictions. Since then, XtalPi has maintained its focus on identifying and then attacking traditional bottlenecks in biopharmaceutical R&D through innovative technologies. Through considerable capital investments in automation and personnel, XtalPi now has four locations worldwide and employs approximately 1000 employees. XtalPi has engaged in collaboration research with nearly all top-20 pharmaceutical companies in the world. Its ID4 platform combines physics-based simulations with experimental validation and refinement, automation for rapid synthesis, and machine learning to continuously improve prediction accuracy and process efficiency.
About CK Life Sciences
CK Life Sciences is listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. Bearing the mission of improving the quality of life, CK Life Sciences is engaged in the business of research and development, manufacturing, commercialisation, marketing, sale of, and investment in, products and assets which fall into three core categories - nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and agriculture-related. CK Life Sciences is a member of the CK Hutchison Group.