Africa: 'Plant Biotech, Solution to Africa's Socio-Economic Development Challenges'

Allafrica | April 15, 2019

A professor of Biotechnology at Covenant University, Professor Olawole Obembe, has asserted that plant biotechnology offers Africa and the world significant opportunities to subdue the challenges of ever-growing demands for food, feeds and fibre production, as well as the need for good health and well-being. While speaking at the 19th inaugural lecture of the university recently, the inaugural lecturer, who delivered a lecture on 'Subdue and Dominate the Earth: Plant Biotechnology for Sustainable Development,' said plant biotechnology would ensure more efficient use of the world's limited resources and consequently contribute to sustainable development. He said that with the world population projected to increase from the present 7.6 to 9.7 billion by the year 2050 and an estimated 50% of the growth to be contributed by Africa, Nigeria, the most populous African country, had been predicted to over double the present 191 million people to 411 million.

Spotlight

The birth of biotechnology did not begin with the discovery of recombination, nor genes; we have actually been relying on it for thousands of years in agriculture.

Spotlight

The birth of biotechnology did not begin with the discovery of recombination, nor genes; we have actually been relying on it for thousands of years in agriculture.

Related News

INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Biocytogen and LiberoThera Achieve Milestone Progress in Co-Development of Fully Human GPCR Antibody Drugs

Biocytogen | July 21, 2022

Biocytogen Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd. entered a strategic collaboration with LiberoThera Co., Ltd to co-develop fully human GPCR antibodies using Biocytogen’s advanced antibody discovery platform based on fully human antibody RenMabTM mice combined with LiberoThera’s outstanding membrane antigen preparation technology. In around a year since the collaboration was established, the two parties have screened out a number of fully human therapeutic antibody clones with excellent anti-tumor activity in vitro and in vivo against the first mutually selected GPCR target, CCR8, which has the potential to become a best-in-class product. These antibody clones exhibit high affinity binding to human CCR8 with species cross-reactivity and good manufacturability. Mechanistically, these clones can deplete Tregs from the tumor micro-environment through enhanced ADCC activity, and can also inhibit the activities of Tregs in the tumor micro-environment by inhibiting CCR8 signaling mediated by its ligand CCL1, thereby enhancing the anti-tumor immune response. In the future, the collaborations between two parties will also be extended to other GPCR targets. GPCRs are seven-transmembrane proteins with short extracellular domains and high homology among them which make it difficult to find antibodies against them with high specificity and desired functions. However, both the success rate and the speed of GPCR antibody discovery have greatly increased by combining Biocytogen’s target knocked-out fully human antibody mice RenMab KO, various immunization and antibody discovery technologies, high-throughput in vitro and in vivo screening platform and LiberoThera’s deep understanding of GPCR target structures plus membrane antigen preparation technologies. “We are very pleased that with the joint efforts of us and LiberoThera, the drug development of CCR8, a potential target for tumor immunotherapy, is progressing smoothly. This undoubtedly validates that LiberoThera's advanced antigen preparation technology synergizes with our RenMice KO platform to generate diverse fully human antibodies. Furthermore, our high-throughput in vivo and in vitro screening capabilities ensured that antibodies against GPCRs can be efficiently obtained. We look forward to advancing our CCR8 antibodies into the clinic soon and we also look forward to continue working with LiberoThera to tackle more GPCR targets.” Dr. Yuelei Shen, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Biocytogen “Many GPCRs are important drug targets for a variety of indications. However, due to the special structure of such targets, the development of antibody drugs against them has always been challenging,” said Dr. Toru Kanke, CEO of LiberoThera. “The structural GPCR antigens prepared with LiberoThera’s proprietary cell-free membrane synthesis technologies together with non-natural amino acid incorporation methods can provide a solution for generating quality antibodies against the challenging targets. Biocytogen’s streamlined fully human antibody development platform greatly accelerates the translation of GPCR research. We are very happy to see the rapid progress and discovery of the best-in-class therapeutic antibodies against CCR8 under the collaboration of both parties. We also look forward to the collaborations in the future with Biocytogen to work on more GPCR targets so that to benefit more patients around the world.” About Biocytogen Biocytogen Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd. 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 antibody drugs for more than 1000 targets, known as Project Integrum, and has entered ongoing collaborations with dozens of partners worldwide to produce a variety of first-in-class and/or best-in-class antibody drugs. At present, many GPCR projects from Project Integrum are under development that are important for treating cancer, metabolic diseases and beyond. In the future, Project Integrum will continue producing more fully human antibodies against GPCRs and other difficult targets. Biocytogen wishes to collaborate with partners around the world to discover, develop and deliver new medicines through innovative technologies that benefit human health. 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 LiberoThera LiberoThera is a drug discovery company targeting membrane proteins including GPCRs. Founded on the revolutionary research by Prof. Shigeyuki Yokoyama, Emeritus Professor at The University of Tokyo and Distinguished Senior Scientist at RIKEN, LiberoThera utilizes its cutting-edge cell-free protein expression system and non-natural amino acid technology which enable complexed membrane proteins to be prepared in natural forms with structural and functional integrity. LiberoThera is developing novel therapeutic candidates targeting physiologically important membrane proteins, such as GPCRs, in collaboration with multiple partners.

Read More

CELL AND GENE THERAPY

CSL Plasma Reimagines Donor Experience With First Donations Completed on Innovative Plasma Collection Technology

CSL Plasma | August 08, 2022

CSL Plasma, the plasma collection business of global biotherapeutics leader CSL Behring, began a new era in plasma donations, collecting its first plasma donations using leading-edge plasma collection technology that is expected to significantly reduce average collection time – by approximately one-third – and improve the donor experience. The Rika Plasma Donation System, only available at CSL Plasma and developed by Terumo Blood and Cell Technologies, is designed to reduce collection time, and improve the donor and operator experience. When considering prior average CSL Plasma donation procedure times, this could represent about a 30% reduction in average donation time for donors. The new plasmapheresis system first launched today in the Aurora, Colorado, CSL Plasma location, as part of a phased rollout to CSL Plasma U.S. collection centers. Plasma collected at CSL Plasma facilities is used in the manufacturing of lifesaving plasma-derived therapies. "Today marks a threshold moment for plasma donors following years of dedication, innovation and collaboration – demonstrating how we are driven by our promise in delivering lifesaving and life-extending therapies to patients around the world. We look forward to the positive impact this new technology brings and are thankful for plasma donors who continue to do the amazing every day when they donate at CSL Plasma." CSL Chief Operating Officer Paul McKenzie CSL Plasma believes features of the new Rika system can enable the collection of more plasma, in shorter periods of time, supporting quality and safety, and, ultimately, better serving patients who rely on plasma-based therapies. One of the first plasma donors to experience the Rika system, Kelly Geiser is a resident of the Denver area. She has donated plasma since 2017, and is a Platinum level donor as part of CSL Plasma's donor loyalty program, iGive Rewards®. Geiser appreciated that she was able to complete the donation procedure with the new technology in under 35 minutes and in the fastest donation time she has experienced, while every plasma donor's experience will vary. Donating plasma is also personal for Geiser, who says that therapies made from plasma have helped her and her family, including a parent who recently underwent emergency surgery. "It feels good knowing I'm helping people and, who knows, I might've helped somebody I know," said Geiser. According to Terumo BCT, benefits of the Rika Plasma Donation System include Rika completes one plasma collection in 35 minutes or less on average. The proprietary design of the system's centrifuge maximizes the plasma yield per cycle. The Rika Plasma Donation System was designed to allow no more than 200 milliliters of blood cells outside the donor's body, resulting in a low extracorporeal volume, which may contribute to a more comfortable donor experience. With less than 200 milliliters of blood cells outside the donor's body at any given time, should the initial procedure not be completed, the donor can return and donate without being deferred. The device is designed with an advanced user interface to guide CSL Plasma front-line employees. Operators can quickly and confidently resolve alarms, thanks to guidance provided on the Rika system's touchscreen, which also alerts operators about situations that require attention and provides suggested actions to resolve the situation. The system allows for real-time data analytics to drive device maintenance and repairs. CSL Plasma is implementing the new devices at Colorado centers and then expanding to other U.S. locations, providing donors more opportunities to "do the amazing" and be rewarded for their generosity. "As a long-time leader in our industry, CSL Plasma looks forward to this new plasmapheresis technology to delight our plasma donors and attract new donors while supporting a better operating experience for our employees," said Walter Charles, CSL Plasma Senior Vice President and General Manager. "As we complete the implementation of new technology at U.S. centers, we continue to address the critical and ongoing need for human plasma to produce life-saving medicines for people with serious and rare diseases." About CSL Plasma CSL Plasma operates one of the world's largest and most sophisticated plasma collection networks, with more than 300 plasma collection centers in the U.S., Europe and China. Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, CSL Plasma is a subsidiary of CSL Behring, a global biotherapeutics company and a member of the CSL Group of companies. Plasma collected at CSL Plasma facilities is used by CSL Behring for the sole purpose of manufacturing lifesaving plasma-derived therapies for people in more than 100 countries. The parent company, CSL Limited headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, employs more than 25,000 people. About CSL Behring CSL Behring is a global biotherapeutics leader driven by our promise to save lives. Focused on serving patients' needs by using the latest technologies, we discover, develop and deliver innovative therapies for people living with conditions in the immunology, hematology, cardiovascular and metabolic, respiratory, and transplant therapeutic areas. We use three strategic scientific platforms of plasma fractionation, recombinant protein technology, and cell and gene therapy to support continued innovation and continually refine ways in which products can address unmet medical needs and help patients lead full lives.

Read More

CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Merck and Orna Therapeutics Collaborate to Advance Orna’s Next Generation of RNA Technology

Merck and Orna Therapeutics | August 17, 2022

Merck known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Orna Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering a new investigational class of engineered circular RNA therapies, today announced a collaboration agreement to discover, develop, and commercialize multiple programs, including vaccines and therapeutics in the areas of infectious disease and oncology. Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will make an upfront payment to Orna of $150 million, which will be expensed by Merck in the third quarter of 2022 and included in non-GAAP results. In addition, Orna will be eligible to receive up to $3.5 billion in development, regulatory, and sales milestones associated with the progress of the multiple vaccine and therapeutic programs, as well as royalties on any approved products derived from the collaboration. Orna will retain rights to its oRNA-LNP technology platform and will continue to advance other wholly owned programs in areas such as oncology and genetic disease. Merck will also invest $100 million of equity in Orna’s recently completed Series B financing round. Orna’s proprietary oRNA technology creates circular RNAs from linear RNAs by self-circularization. oRNA molecules have been shown to have greater stability in vivo than linear mRNA and have the potential to produce larger quantities of therapeutic proteins inside the body. Newly synthesized oRNA molecules are more compactly packaged into custom lipid nanoparticles which Orna has engineered to target key tissues in the body. Preclinical data, including presentations at the 2022 American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy Annual Meeting, have demonstrated the potential of oRNA expression and delivery as an approach for further development in multiple areas, including vaccines and oncology therapeutics. “This broad strategic collaboration brings together Merck’s significant expertise in nucleic acid biology, clinical development, and manufacturing with Orna’s compelling circular RNA technology to explore the opportunity to develop a new generation of potential vaccines and therapeutics. We look forward to working with the talented scientific and technical teams at Orna." Fiona Marshall, senior vice president and head of discovery, preclinical and translational medicine at Merck Research Laboratories “We are thrilled to collaborate with Merck, a company committed to breakthrough science, which has recognized the potential our platform can bring to patients. Our oRNA technology plus novel delivery solutions are designed to unlock the full potential of RNA in therapeutics and vaccines,” said Tom Barnes, Chief Executive Officer of Orna. “The combined expertise of Orna and Merck aims to accelerate the development of RNA therapeutics for patients in need of better treatment options.” About Merck At Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, we are unified around our purpose: We use the power of leading-edge science to save and improve lives around the world. For more than 130 years, we have brought hope to humanity through the development of important medicines and vaccines. We aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world – and today, we are at the forefront of research to deliver innovative health solutions that advance the prevention and treatment of diseases in people and animals. We foster a diverse and inclusive global workforce and operate responsibly every day to enable a safe, sustainable and healthy future for all people and communities. About Orna Therapeutics Orna Therapeutics was founded on groundbreaking research by Alex Wesselhoeft, Ph.D., and Daniel G. Anderson, Ph.D. from MIT and built by MPM Capital and BioImpact Capital, an investment management affiliate of MPM. Orna’s proprietary circular RNA (oRNA) is engineered as linear RNA that self-circularizes. By taking a line and turning it into a circle, oRNA exhibits numerous advantages over traditional linear mRNA therapies such as simplified production, increased protein expression, and a superior immunogenicity profile. With proprietary lipid nanoparticles including those from Orna’s joint venture with ReNAgade Therapeutics, an RNA delivery company, our technologies expand the possibilities of what RNA therapeutics can achieve.

Read More