QIAGEN and Neuron23™ | September 15, 2022
QIAGEN and Neuron23 Inc., an early stage biotechnology company focused on developing precision medicines for genetically defined neurological and immunological diseases, announced the signing of an agreement to develop a companion diagnostic for Neuron23’s brain penetrant leucine-rich repeat kinase inhibitor for Parkinson’s disease.
Under the new Master Collaboration Agreement, QIAGEN will develop and validate a clinical trial assay that will detect a combination of biomarkers discovered by Neuron23 that together predict the responsiveness of Parkinson’s disease to a LRRK2 inhibitor. The partnership will support the clinical development of Neuron23’s drug candidate that is currently in the late stages of preclinical development. Subject to further clinical development, the agreement also covers options for the future development of additional companion diagnostics.
Neuron23 joins a group of more than 25 leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies who have reached master collaboration agreements with QIAGEN to develop and commercialize companion diagnostic tests for their drug candidates – a deep pipeline of potential future products to advance precision medicine for the benefit of patients around the world.
The assay for this collaboration will be integrated into a next-generation sequencing workflow that leverages QIAGEN’s Sample to Insight capabilities, including instrumentation, IVD sample preparation, library preparation and bioinformatics. The workflow is planned to be developed using the NextSeqTM 500 System as part of the NGS strategic collaboration between QIAGEN and Illumina. Based on Neuron23’s artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled drug discovery and biomarker platform, it will target a complex signature of 50 single nucleic polymorphisms for U.S. and European populations and eventually additional SNPs that are prevalent in Asian populations.
“The collaboration with Neuron23 shows the rapid momentum precision medicine is gaining in disease areas outside oncology. Our expertise in blood- and NGS-based molecular testing from Sample to Insight will enable Neuron23 to run a clinical trial for a drug candidate that may have the potential to modify the course of an inexorable neurodegenerative disease in a genetically defined population.”
Jonathan Arnold, Vice President, Head of Oncology and Precision Diagnostics, at QIAGEN
“This collaboration combines the leading expertise of Neuron23 in drug discovery, data science, and machine learning with QIAGEN’s long-standing experience and global leadership in companion diagnostic development. QIAGEN’s blood-based test will help to identify patients with Parkinson’s disease who are likely to respond to Neuron23’s LRRK2 inhibitor. The development of a companion diagnostic identifying this sub-population of Parkinson’s disease patients will de-risk the clinical development of Neuron23’s LRRK2 inhibitor and help identify individuals who may benefit from this disease-modifying therapy. We are excited to be working with an industry leader on the first companion diagnostic developed for Parkinson’s disease,” said Nancy Stagliano, Ph.D., CEO of Neuron23.
No laboratory tests are currently available for the diagnosis of non-genetic cases for Parkinson’s disease. Usually, the disease is diagnosed based on medical history and neurological examination. Although no cure currently exists for Parkinson’s disease, therapies are used to alleviate some symptoms.
LRRK2 is a complex, multidomain protein found in neurons and many tissues and cell types throughout the body. Mutations in the LRRK2 gene are one of the most common causes of familial Parkinson’s disease and individuals who inherit gain of function mutations in LRRK2 are clearly at higher risk to develop the disease in later life. Additionally, there is emerging evidence that LRRK2 may play a role in a subset of the larger population of patients with non-familial Parkinson’s disease. Recent investigations have shown that small-molecule LRRK2 inhibitors can be neuroprotective, suggesting that therapies targeting LRRK2 could be beneficial in a larger population of patients.
QIAGEN is a pioneer in precision medicine and the global leader in collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to co-develop companion diagnostics, which detect clinically relevant genetic abnormalities to provide insights that guide clinical decision-making in diseases such as cancer. QIAGEN has an unmatched depth and breadth of technologies from NGS to polymerase chain reaction and digital PCR for companion diagnostic development. QIAGEN has ten PCR based companion diagnostic indications that are FDA approved, including therascreen EGFR for non-small cell lung cancer, therascreen KRAS for colorectal cancer and NSCLC, therascreen FGFR for urothelial cancer, therascreen PIK3CA for breast cancer based on tissue or plasma samples and the therascreen BRAF kit for colorectal cancer.
QIAGEN N.V., a Netherlands-based holding company, is the leading global provider of Sample to Insight solutions that enable customers to gain valuable molecular insights from samples containing the building blocks of life. Our sample technologies isolate and process DNA, RNA and proteins from blood, tissue and other materials. Assay technologies make these biomolecules visible and ready for analysis. Bioinformatics software and knowledge bases interpret data to report relevant, actionable insights. Automation solutions tie these together in seamless and cost-effective workflows. QIAGEN provides solutions to more than 500,000 customers around the world in Molecular Diagnostics, Applied Testing, Pharma and Academia. As of June 30, 2022, QIAGEN employed more than 6,100 people in over 35 locations worldwide.
Neuron23™ Inc. is an early stage biotechnology company focused on developing precision medicines for genetically defined neurological and immunological diseases. Neuron23 combines recent advances in human genetics with a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled drug discovery and biomarker platform to advance therapeutics for devastating diseases. The Company’s focus areas are neurodegenerative diseases, neuroinflammatory diseases, and systemic autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Founded in 2018, Neuron23 has assembled a world-class team of experts and entrepreneurs located in South San Francisco, CA.
Ordaōs and NonExomics | September 29, 2022
Ordaōs, a biotechnology company designing novel miniPROTM mini-proteins to help drug hunters deliver life-saving treatments, and NonExomics, a company specializing in the identification of novel targets from non-conventional protein-coding regions, announced a proof-of-concept research collaboration. As part of this endeavor, Ordaōs will use its proprietary design engine to generate and rank novel miniPRO™ candidates that meet specific target product profiles, beginning with three targets. NonExomics will conduct pre-clinical certification of these identified MinPRO™ proteins to demonstrate their promising commercial value.
"This partnership allows us to spotlight the power of our Design Engine to create customized miniPRO™ proteins that are more configurable, penetrable and stable, and easier to manufacture. Our collaboration with NonExomics also allows us the mutual opportunity to underscore the potential of our specialties utilizing machine-driven technology."
David Longo, CEO of Ordaōs
NonExomics identifies whether novel proteins can function as drug targets for therapeutic purposes or can be used for diagnostic processes. The company has developed a technology that effectively combines artificial intelligence, proteomics, transcriptomics, and genomics to identify novel targets for quicker diagnosis and treatment of diseases that are currently considered to be incurable or difficult to manage. NonExomics plans to develop new therapies and diagnostics based on its proprietary nonexomic targets.
"We at NonExomics are thrilled to be embarking on this exciting collaboration between our companies to fuel our shared goal of pursuing and developing new therapies for poorly treated or currently deemed incurable diseases," said Sudhakaran Prabakaran, PhD, CEO and Co-Founder of NonExomics.
To select miniPRO™ candidates, Ordaōs will use its multitask meta-learning Ordaōs Design Engine to generate, appraise, and rank hundreds of thousands of proteins on their structures and drug-like properties for novel miniPRO™ candidates that meet the requirements of the desired specifications of NonExomics' product profile. NonExomics will then conduct a series of pre-clinical demonstrations of the selected Ordaōs miniPRO™ designs to prove they meet the specified product profiles.
More About The Ordaōs Design Engine
Ordaōs uses The Ordaōs Design Engine, to deliver true protein property design - leveraging continuous learning loops and proprietary data sets to translate human-targeted product criteria into machine-designed mini-proteins. Starting with amino acids, the Design Engine generates, appraises, and ranks billions of protein sequences and hundreds of thousands of protein structures and properties to create customized miniPRO™ proteins. These proteins are then rapidly evaluated in vitro to provide intelligent feedback on multiple design objectives including protein structure, binding specificity and affinity, solubility, stability, immunogenicity, and developability. This iterative process delivers optimized mini-proteins to meet the client's specific molecular target product profile (mTPP). They are also less likely to cause adverse side effects and are easier and less expensive to test, develop, and manufacture than traditional proteins. Using this approach, the Ordaōs Design Engine creates more ideal, unseen protein leads than others and can accelerate drug candidate development, increasing the probability of more therapeutically effective candidates. All of this provides clients with a high level of confidence in their investigational new drug (IND) applications.
Ordaōs is a human-enabled, machine-driven drug design company that helps birth novel therapies to reduce patient suffering, improve health, and extend life. Our flagship solution, miniPRO™ mini-proteins, enable drug hunters to deliver safer and more effective treatments in a fraction of the time of traditional discovery methods.
NonExomics science and platform developed over eight years of rigorous academic and industry research, mines novel disease-associated proteins using the dark genome. NonExomics has opened up a new area of science with unlimited possibilities to cure diseases.
CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Intravacc | September 12, 2022
Intravacc, a world leader in translational research and development of preventive and therapeutic vaccines, today announced additional favorable preclinical and toxicology data for Avacc 10®, the company's SARS-CoV-2 intranasal candidate vaccine. These results demonstrate a reduction in upper respiratory tract viral load, broad cross protection against circulating variants of concern. and a good safety profile, allowing progression towards a phase I clinical study.
"Based on our additional pre-clinical data, Avacc 10® has the potential to reduce the spreading of the virus as well as providing broad protection against circulation variants. Combined with the favorable toxicological safety data, this puts us a good position for our Phase I clinical trial, which will commence in Q4 2022."
Dr. Jan Groen, Intravacc's Chairman & CEO
The first set of pre-clinical studies of Avacc 10®, published in Frontiers of Immunology in December 2021, demonstrated high levels of spike-binding immunoglobulin G (IgG) and A (IgA) antibodies in serum, and the nose and lungs after two intranasal vaccinations 3 weeks apart. Avacc 10® vaccinated hamsters challenged with SARS-CoV-2 were protected from weight loss and viral replication in the lungs and histopathology showed no lesions in lungs 7 days after challenge.
The objectives of the additional pre-clinical and toxicology study of Avacc 10® were to study the dosing, cross neutralization and safety of the intranasal vaccine. For the dosing study, mice were vaccinated intranasally with two doses of various concentrations of OMV and Spike protein. Three weeks after the last vaccination neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan strain and variants of concern Delta, Gamma and Omicron were determined in the sera. High virus neutralizing antibody titers were detected against all the variant viruses. Syrian hamsters were used to study viral replication after challenge with SARS-CoV-2. A reduced viral load in throat and lungs and highly reduced lung lesions were observed in Avacc 10® vaccinated animals exposed to placebo vaccinated, challenged animals. Furthermore, delayed transmission of Avacc 10® vaccinated, challenged animals to placebo vaccinated animals was observed.
The purpose of the repeated dose toxicity study was to assess the safety and tolerability of Avacc 10® when administered through the intranasal route in New Zealand White Rabbits. Animals were vaccinated 3 times with Avacc 10® , and control animals with OMV only, or saline buffer. Toxicity was monitored until 2 weeks after the final vaccination. No clinical signs of toxicity nor morbidity/mortality were found in any of the groups, and no gross pathological changes were observed, demonstrating the safety of OMV based vaccine. All Avacc 10® vaccinated animals showed high IgG antibodies levels against Spike as well as virus neutralizing antibodies.
Based on the outcome of the Phase I trial, Intravacc will seek manufacturing and commercialization license partners.
About Intravacc's OMV platform technology
For the development of vaccines, Intravacc has designed and developed a platform based on outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) - spherical particles with intrinsic adjuvant properties. The OMVs can be rigged with immunogenic peptides and/or proteins that stimulate effective adaptive immunity. The OMV carrier has been optimized to induce a more effective immune response against these newly introduced antigens. Intravacc has also developed genetic tools to increase the yield of OMVs, reduce the toxicity and achieve the desired antigenic composition. Intravacc's OMV platform is fully scalable and allows rapid and efficient modification of the antigen composition, either through genetic modification of the bacterial host or by associating antigens with stored OMVs.
Intravacc, located at Utrecht Science Park Bilthoven in the Netherlands, is a leading global contract development and manufacturing organization for infectious diseases and therapeutic vaccines. As an established independent CDMO with many years of experience in the development and optimization of vaccines and vaccine technologies, Intravacc has transferred its technology world-wide for many vaccines including polio-, measles-, DPT-, Hib- and influenza. Around 40% of childhood disease vaccines are based on Intravacc's know-how and proprietary technology. Intravacc offers a wide range of expertise for independent vaccine development, from concept to Phase I/II clinical studies for partners around the world, including universities, public health organizations biotech and pharmaceutical companies.