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.
Naveris, Inc. | September 20, 2022
Naveris, Inc., a commercial-stage life sciences company dedicated to improving patient care through earlier detection of viral-driven cancers, today announced a $33.4 million expansion of its Series A financing, bringing the total investment in Naveris to $51 million. The financing was led by Gurnet Point Capital, joined by TechU Ventures and BrightEdge, the impact and venture capital arm of the American Cancer Society.
Naveris’ blood tests for earlier cancer detection use proprietary patented DNA fragmentomics technology to distinguish between viral DNA arising from cancers versus infection. Proceeds from this financing will be used to advance commercialization of NavDx, Naveris’ flagship blood test for the early detection of cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), and to generate the clinical data needed to expand into other cancer types and indications.
“We are delighted to have the continued support of Gurnet Point Capital and TechU Ventures, and to welcome Alice Pomponio and the rest of the BrightEdge team, who collectively bring a deep understanding of both the oncology space and commercial-stage businesses. We founded Naveris on the belief that advances in molecular diagnostics will play a vital role in improving cancer outcomes. This new investment underscores NavDx’s commercial success and potential, and our experienced team’s ability to transform this vision into a reality for patients and oncologists.”
Piyush B. Gupta, Ph.D., Naveris founder and Chief Executive Officer
"Since our initial investment in 2020, we have been impressed by the Naveris team's vision and their ability to commercially execute on a differentiated strategy in the rapidly developing field of blood-based cancer detection,” said Travis Wilson, Partner at Gurnet Point Capital. “We are pleased to be providing additional capital to ensure that their transformative technology for early cancer detection will benefit as many patients as possible."
“We could not be more excited to back Piyush and his team as Naveris works to increase access to diagnose, detect, and monitor viral cancers” said Alice Pomponio, BrightEdge Managing Director. “We understand the burden of HPV related cancers on patients. And we seek to build on the years of research and advocacy of the American Cancer Society to support the next generation of mission aligned companies reducing patient burden.”
Along with Naveris' commercial activities, more than 25 medical institutions have partnered with the company to conduct clinical studies and trials utilizing its technology. The company has also partnered with biotechnology companies developing immunotherapies for HPV-related cancers.
About Naveris, Inc.
Founded in 2017, Naveris is a privately held biotechnology company with facilities in Massachusetts and North Carolina. The company’s mission is to improve outcomes for the millions of people at risk of developing viral cancers through novel molecular diagnostics that enable earlier cancer detection. Naveris’ clinical laboratory is certified for high complexity testing under CLIA, and is accredited by the College of American Pathologists and the New York State Department of Health Wadsworth Center.
About Gurnet Point Capital
Gurnet Point Capital is a leading healthcare fund that invests in de-risked life sciences companies. Gurnet Point primarily focuses on businesses that have high growth potential in the late product development and commercialization stages of their evolution. These companies become partners not just because of their capacity to generate economic value, but also because of their potential to deliver social impact. Gurnet Point’s team of highly experienced industry executives work closely with its portfolio companies, with an active approach driving operational transformation and outsized returns.
CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Genscript Biotech Corporation | September 23, 2022
GenScript USA Inc., the world's leading life-science research tools and services provider, is collaborating with researchers at the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology to advance the development of new, non-viral cell therapies that modify genomic sequences in the pursuit of more effective cell therapy products while limiting the cellular toxicity that is typically associated with previously available methods.
A new study, published in Nature Biotechnology, details methods for achieving highly efficient non-viral knock-in using GenScript's GenExact™ single-strand DNA modified with Cas9-target sequences. This method achieved up to ˜40% knock-in efficiency in primary immune cell types.
One powerful application of CRISPR/Cas genome editing technology involves the precise insertion of DNA sequences via the HDR pathway. Traditionally, researchers have relied on viral vectors to deliver DNA insertion templates used for gene therapy into cells. However, difficulties manufacturing large amounts of clinical-grade viral vectors have delayed getting cell therapies to patients. Additionally, viral vectors can insert genes at any location within the genome, leading to safety concerns.
Previous research by the group at Gladstone and UCSF has shown that synthetic DNA templates can be delivered without the use of viral vectors, but high levels of double-stranded DNA can be toxic to cells, resulting in low efficiency. Efficiency can be improved using a modified version of the DNA templates that can bind to the Cas9 enzyme. However, additional work was required to improve the yield of successfully engineered cells and to make the process compatible with the manufacturing of future cell therapies. Those goals motivated the team's current study.
In this study, the team tested modified GenExact ssDNA designed with Cas9-targeted sequences to determine if the gene-editing efficiency could be improved with lower toxicity. First, synthetic sgRNA was complexed with Cas9 protein to form a RNP complex. Then the RNP and ssDNA template were delivered into the cell via electroporation, enabling efficient gene editing.
The team discovered that this combination of GenExact ssDNA with Cas9-targeted sequence offers up to 40% knock-in editing efficiency with minimal cellular toxicity. This approach can accelerate the development and manufacture of novel, high-yield non-viral gene therapies — and at lower cost.
"We are very proud to have collaborated on this groundbreaking scale-up work by the talented team at Gladstone and UCSF. GenScript is excited for the opportunities that this high-yield cell-line engineering process will provide to our customers," said Ray Chen, Ph.D, president of GenScript Life Science Group.
"We were very happy to partner with Genscript on critical experiments demonstrating high efficiency and yield of CAR knock-in cells at clinical scale. The long ssDNA produced by Genscript exceeded our expectations and helped us clearly demonstrate the potential for future therapeutic applications using these methods.",
Brian Shy, MD, PhD, a former clinical fellow in the lab of Alex Marson, MD, PhD, director of the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology
About GenScript Biotech Corporation
GenScript Biotech Corporation is a global biotechnology group. Based on its leading gene synthesis technology, GenScript has developed four major platforms including the global cell therapy platform, the biologics contract development and manufacturing organization platform, the contract research organization platform, and the industrial synthesis product platform.
GenScript was founded in New Jersey, USA in 2002 and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2015. GenScript's business operation spans over 100 countries and regions worldwide, with legal entities located in the USA, mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Ireland. GenScript has provided premium, convenient, and reliable products and services for over 100,000 customers.