A new CRISPR/Cas9 therapy can suppress aging

Aging is a leading risk factor for a number of debilitating conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease, to name a few. This makes the need for anti-aging therapies all the more urgent. Now, Salk Institute researchers have developed a new gene therapy to help decelerate the aging process. The findings, published on February 18, 2019, in the journal Nature Medicine, highlight a novel CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing therapy that can suppress the accelerated aging observed in mice with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that also afflicts humans. This treatment provides important insight into the molecular pathways involved in accelerated aging, as well as how to reduce toxic proteins via gene therapy. "Aging is a complex process in which cells start to lose their functionality, so it is critical for us to find effective ways to study the molecular drivers of aging," says Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a professor in Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory and senior author of the paper. "Progeria is an ideal aging model because it allows us to devise an intervention, refine it and test it again quickly."

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Nimbus Therapeutics Announces Expansion of Its Immunology Drug Discovery Pipeline

Nimbus Therapeutics | January 08, 2024

Nimbus Therapeutics, LLC a biotechnology company that designs and develops breakthrough medicines through its powerful computational drug discovery engine, announced the advancement and expansion of its pipeline with the addition of discovery programs targeting innate immunity pathways. These programs, targeting the salt-inducible kinase (SIK) family and cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS), represent promising opportunities to leverage Nimbus’ industry-leading computational and structure-based drug design expertise to develop highly selective, potent medicines addressing areas of significant unmet need. "Building on the success of our TYK2 program, we are broadening our drug discovery engine to unlock new difficult-to-drug targets with compelling biology,” said Peter Tummino, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Nimbus. “SIK and cGAS are critical targets in highly prevalent diseases that are well suited to Nimbus’ structure-based drug design approach. We look forward to advancing our discovery and development programs across oncology, immunology, and metabolism to deliver transformative medicines to patients.” Nimbus is advancing its Phase 1/2 trial (NCT05128487) of NDI-101150, a small molecule inhibitor of hematopoietic progenitor kinase 1 (HPK1), and has reported positive dose escalation data showing potential monotherapy clinical benefit for patients with solid tumors. Furthermore, the company expects to initiate IND-enabling activities this year for its oncology program targeting Werner syndrome helicase (WRN). In collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company, Nimbus continues to progress the development of novel targeted therapies that activate AMPK to potentially treat a broad range of metabolic disorders. Nimbus continues to expand its platform capabilities with ongoing investments in cutting-edge technology for drug discovery. Alongside proprietary computational tools which the company has developed in-house, Nimbus’ platform leverages state-of-the-art technology through collaborations such as its recently announced partnership with Anagenex, a leader in generative AI for drug design. Jeb Keiper, M.S., MBA, Nimbus’ Chief Executive Officer, will provide an overview of the company’s progress and pipeline and anticipated milestones for 2024 and beyond at the 42nd Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference on Monday, January 8, 2024 at 7:30 am PT. About Nimbus Therapeutics Nimbus Therapeutics is a clinical-stage, structure-based drug discovery company developing novel small molecule medicines designed to act against well-validated but difficult-to-drug targets implicated in multiple human diseases. Nimbus combines leading-edge computational technologies with a tailored array of machine learning-based predictive modeling approaches. Nimbus’ pipeline includes a clinical-stage HPK1 inhibitor for the treatment of cancer (NCT05128487), as well as a diverse portfolio of preclinical programs focused on cancer, autoimmune conditions, and metabolic diseases. Nimbus is headquartered in Boston, Mass.

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Virica Expands Bioprocessing Capabilities with Carleton University Partnership

Virica Biotech | January 17, 2024

Virica Biotech Inc. (“Virica”), a leading developer of cell enhancers for scaling of viral vector as well as cell and gene therapy manufacturing will expand its bioprocessing services through a partnership with Carleton University. Slated to open this spring, Virica’s new facility at the university multiplies the Company’s capacity to provide high throughput virology services for customers looking to optimize production of their cell and gene therapies. “Carleton’s new Health Sciences Building provides us with greater access to modern infrastructure and analytical expertise,” said Jean Simon Diallo, Ph.D., CEO of Virica Biotech. “Their state-of-the-art analytical research facilities and world-class researchers across multiple disciplines open the door to exciting opportunities for partnering with Carleton University as we continue to invest to meet customer demand.” “We are very pleased to welcome Virica Biotech to the Carleton campus,” said Rafik Goubran, Ph.D., Vice-President (Research and International) and Chancellor’s Professor, Carleton University. “This multi-year, multi-million-dollar research and infrastructure partnership will help drive innovation and talent development in the Ottawa region for the creation and manufacturing of advanced therapies.” This partnership expands on Carleton’s history of supporting Ottawa biotechnology companies. The new open concept facility will include high throughput equipment to accelerate Virica’s bioprocess development and optimizations. In addition to expanded modern infrastructure, this new location enables the development and recruitment of world-class talent with experiential learning and training opportunities for Carleton students. Through this partnership, Carleton will coordinate the establishment of a scholarship fund designed to empower graduate students from traditionally underrepresented groups in science. About Virica Biotech Virica develops cell enhancers for viral vectors that improve the yield and quality of vaccines and cell and gene therapies, allowing developers to economically deploy their products at scale. Virica’s Viral Sensitizer (VSE™) platform reduces production inefficiencies caused by anti-viral defenses in manufacturing cells. Purpose formulated VSE combinations substantially increase manufacturing yields and reduce the cost of goods for a range of life-changing products, including vaccines, gene therapies, and cell therapies. About Carleton University Carleton University is a dynamic, research-intensive institution that engages in partnerships to address the world’s most pressing challenges. The university’s corporate collaborations bring together world-class companies, researchers and a new generation of talent with over 30,000 students to deliver innovations and results that are driving a more prosperous, sustainable future.

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Capricor Therapeutics Announces Collaboration with the National Institutes of Health for Clinical Trial of Novel Exosome-Based Multivalent Vaccine

Capricor Therapeutics | January 24, 2024

Capricor Therapeutics a biotechnology company developing transformative cell and exosome-based therapeutics for the treatment and prevention of rare diseases, today announced that Capricor’s proprietary StealthX™ exosome-based multivalent vaccine (StealthX™ vaccine) for the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 has been selected to be part of Project NextGen, an initiative by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to advance a pipeline of new, innovative vaccines providing broader and more durable protection for COVID-19. As part of Project NextGen, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, will conduct a Phase 1 clinical study with Capricor’s StealthX™ vaccine, subject to regulatory approval. NIAID's Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID) would oversee the study. “We are extremely pleased with the external support from the NIH, which highlights the clinical potential of our StealthX™ exosome platform technology and provides non-dilutive support for the advancement of our vaccine candidate,” said Linda Marbán, Ph.D., Capricor’s chief executive officer. “Our proprietary vaccine is multivalent, delivering both the highly mutagenic S protein (Spike) and the more stable N protein (Nucleocapsid) which potentially may offer broader and longer lasting immunity against SARS-CoV-2. We view the NIH SARS-CoV-2 project as the first clinical step towards development of a next generation vaccine platform that may be extended to other infectious diseases. Our platform is designed to combine the speed of response of an mRNA vaccine with the potential efficacy of a protein vaccine. Further, our StealthX™ vaccine is free of both adjuvant and lipid nanoparticles and in preclinical studies has generated a strong immune response at low doses. We believe our StealthX™ vaccine may offer a clinically meaningful alternative for highly mutating or novel infectious agents.” Dr. Marbán continued, “This is the opportunity we have been waiting for as it allows the exosome technology to be brought into the clinic as we continue to focus our resources on CAP-1002 for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Beyond SARS-CoV-2, we look forward to exploring the potential therapeutic utility of this platform, and more broadly, expanding our pipeline into therapeutics and future partnership opportunities.” About Capricor’s StealthX™ Vaccine The StealthX™ vaccine is a proprietary vaccine developed internally by Capricor utilizing exosomes that were engineered to express either spike or nucleocapsid proteins on the surface. Preclinical results from murine and rabbit models published in Microbiology Spectrum, showed the StealthX™ vaccine, resulted in robust antibody production, potent neutralizing antibodies, a strong T-cell response and a favorable safety profile. These effects were obtained with administration of only nanogram amounts of protein and without adjuvant or synthetic lipid nanoparticles (LNPs). Exosomes offer a new antigen delivery system that potentially could be utilized to rapidly generate multivalent protein-based vaccines. Exosomes, first identified as extracellular vesicles, are small vesicles enriched in specific subsets of proteins, RNAs and lipids and responsible for cell-to-cell communication. About Capricor Therapeutics Capricor Therapeutics, Inc. is a biotechnology company focused on the development of transformative cell and exosome-based therapeutics for the treatment and prevention of rare diseases. Capricor’s lead candidate, CAP-1002, is an allogeneic cardiac-derived cell therapy currently in Phase 3 clinical development for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Further, Capricor has entered into a partnership for the exclusive commercialization and distribution of CAP-1002 for DMD in the United States and Japan with Nippon Shinyaku Co., Ltd. (U.S. subsidiary: NS Pharma, Inc.), subject to regulatory approval. Capricor is also developing its exosome technology as a potential next-generation therapeutic platform. Our proprietary StealthX™ exosome platform has potential for a broad range of new therapeutic applications in the field of vaccinology as well as targeted oligonucleotide, protein and small molecule therapeutics to treat or prevent a variety of diseases.

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