Artificial Cells Mimic Living Organisms

Techonology Networks | January 21, 2019

Friedrich Simmel und Aurore Dupin, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), have for the first time created artificial cell assemblies that can communicate with each other. The cells, separated by fatty membranes, exchange small chemical signaling molecules to trigger more complex reactions, such as the production of RNA and other proteins. Scientists around the world are working on creating artificial, cell-like systems that mimic the behavior of living organisms. Friedrich Simmel and Aurore Dupin have now for the first time created such artificial cell assemblies in a fixed spatial arrangement. The highlight is that the cells are able to communicate with each other. “Our system is the first step towards tissue-like, synthetic biological materials that exhibit complex spatial and temporal behavior in which individual cells specialize and differentiate themselves, not unlike biological organisms,” explains Friedrich Simmel, Professor of Physics of Synthetic Biosystems (E14) at TU Munich.

Spotlight

We don’t typically think of the wastewater collection system as a biological process, but biological processes are in fact occurring in sewer lines and in related systems such as lift or pump stations. Fecal bacteria are the largest biological inputs into the system. Fecal bacteria are primarily facultative (surviving with or without oxygen sources) and obligate anaerobes (surviving only in the absence of oxygen sources). Microbes are also being contributed from everyday activities (bathing, laundry, food preparation and cleanup, floor mopping, etc.). These microbes may be aerobic (surviving only in the presence of molecular oxygen), facultative, or obligate anaerobes.

Spotlight

We don’t typically think of the wastewater collection system as a biological process, but biological processes are in fact occurring in sewer lines and in related systems such as lift or pump stations. Fecal bacteria are the largest biological inputs into the system. Fecal bacteria are primarily facultative (surviving with or without oxygen sources) and obligate anaerobes (surviving only in the absence of oxygen sources). Microbes are also being contributed from everyday activities (bathing, laundry, food preparation and cleanup, floor mopping, etc.). These microbes may be aerobic (surviving only in the presence of molecular oxygen), facultative, or obligate anaerobes.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Naveris Inc. Raises $51 Million to Advance Commercialization of NavDx

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.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Alloy Therapeutics and Normunity Sign Multi-Program Antibody Discovery Collaboration in Immuno-Oncology

Alloy Therapeutics | November 18, 2022

Alloy Therapeutics, a biotechnology ecosystem company, announced an antibody discovery collaboration spanning multiple precision immuno-oncology programs for Normunity, a biotech company that recently announced its $65 million Series A financing. The collaboration will support the advancement of Normunity’s immune normalizers, antibody therapies designed to target novel mechanisms that free the body’s normal immunity to fight cancer, which are conceived through a unique biotech-academic collaboration with a renowned immuno-oncology university research lab. Alloy democratizes access to tools, technologies, and services that are foundational for discovering and developing therapeutic biologics and has partnered with more than 130 discovery teams across academia, biotech, and large biopharma organizations. Through its discovery services offering, Alloy conducts high-touch, bespoke therapeutic discovery campaigns against partners’ targets of interest. “Our partnership reflects an exciting opportunity to pair Normunity’s insights in immune disruption and cancer disease biology with Alloy’s world-class antibody discovery expertise. We value Alloy’s collaborative approach and look forward to working together to advance the best therapeutic antibodies to target mechanisms discovered through Normunity’s platforms.” Normunity Chief Scientific Officer William LaRochelle, PhD The collaboration between Alloy and Normunity is leveraging Alloy’s high velocity antibody discovery services offering, Daedamab, which takes a sequencing-first approach to antibody discovery that reduces discovery timelines without sacrificing quality. The Daedamab team is based in Alloy’s research facility in Athens, GA, and its workflow comprises the ATX-Gx™, Alloy’s proprietary mice platform for human therapeutic antibody discovery, in addition to robust B cell isolation, next generation sequencing, cloning-free expression and a high throughput screening process—all supported by a rich informatics engine. “We are very excited to work with Normunity on its set of unique immuno-oncology targets using our high velocity NGS-based antibody discovery methods leveraging the ATX-Gx platform," said Richard Shimkets, PhD, SVP of Genetics and New Technologies at Alloy Therapeutics and CEO of the Daedamab site. “This relationship is emblematic of Alloy’s expertise in deploying the right technologies and processes to find our partners the best therapeutic antibodies against the novel targets they bring us.” Normunity is advancing into the clinic with programs that target mechanisms that drive the exclusion of T cells into immune-sensitive tumors and aim to deliver an active and effective immune system into cold tumors. About Daedamab Alloy’s Daedamab discovery service offers a novel, fast, powerful sequence-first approach to finding and making the best antibodies. The team is based in Athens, GA and supports Alloy collaborators with complete antibody discovery services, antibody sequencing of customer-provided material, expression and testing of customer-provided antibody sequences, humanization, and optimization services. About Alloy Therapeutics Alloy Therapeutics is a biotechnology ecosystem company empowering the global scientific community to make better medicines together. Through a community of partners across academia, biotech, and the largest biopharma, Alloy democratizes access to pre-competitive tools, technologies, services, and company creation capabilities that are foundational for discovering and developing therapeutic biologics across six modalities, including antibodies, TCRs, genetic medicines, peptides, cell therapies, and drug delivery. Partners may access all current and future technologies for a flat annual fee through Alloy’s Innovation Subscriptions offering. As a reflection of Alloy’s relentless commitment to the scientific community, Alloy reinvests 100% of its revenue in innovation and access to innovation. About Normunity Normunity, Inc., is a biotechnology company creating a new class of precision immuno-oncology medicines, called immune normalizers, that target novel mechanisms that free the body’s normal immunity against cancer. Based on an ongoing, interactive academic-biotech partnership with the lab of Dr. Lieping Chen at Yale School of Medicine, Normunity is targeting newly-discovered mechanisms of immune disruption in cancer based on proprietary discovery platforms that elucidate the complex interactions between human cancer and the immune system. The company is advancing an emerging pipeline of immune normalizers, including initial drug programs that target mechanisms that drive the exclusion of T-cells from immune-sensitive tumors and other mechanisms that are barriers to normal immune function in cancer. Normunity is located in Boston, Mass. and West Haven, Conn.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

BioConsortia Showcases Breakthrough Microbial Products and Pipeline of Innovation

BioConsortia, Inc. | September 05, 2022

BioConsortia’s innovative microbial products and technical capabilities were on full display August 30th at its Davis, CA headquarters in an investor-focused Technology Showcase event. BioConsortia demonstrated rapid advancements in microbial product and pipeline developments for reducing nitrogen fertilizers, controlling soil pests and plant diseases for larger and better-quality crop yields, as well as protecting crops post-harvest to avoid food waste, while minimizing environmental impact and protecting our planet. The Showcase event reintroduced CRIMSON™ fungicide and biostimulant ZAFFRE™, two products currently awaiting final registrations, and highlighted BioConsortia’s new fungicides, nematicides and nitrogen fixing products that are progressing through registration and commercialization and moving into evaluation with potential partners, as follows: NO-NEM™ bionematicide advances: BioConsortia highlighted progress in bringing novel, safe and effective nematocidal microbes to market. Experts estimate global crop losses of $125 billion or 14% of crop value each year. Currently available chemical controls like methyl bromide, organophosphates and carbamates have an unacceptable level of toxicity to non-target organisms and are being withdrawn from use. NO-NEM is BioConsortia’s first nematicide product heading into full development phase. It has shown excellent performance against economically important pests in row crops, as well as fruits and vegetables, such as soybean cyst nematodes and root knot nematodes. “Today we highlight the breadth of innovations developed to replace chemical crop inputs with superior microbe-based solutions for nitrogen fixing, disease control, nematode control, crop yields and post-harvest food safety. The recent progress of our pipeline – including some exciting technology breakthroughs - means we are ready to advance multiple major products into the commercialization phase with marketing partners.” Marcus Meadows-Smith, CEO of BioConsortia R&D Pipeline Expanded through Technical Innovation Additions to BioConsortia’s R&D pipeline aim to leapfrog currently available microbial products, providing improved efficacy, increased shelf-stability, and reduced field use rates, as follows Leveraging GenePro™ microbe editing platform for nitrogen-fixing breakthroughs: BioConsortia’s proprietary genomics and gene-editing platform, GenePro™, facilitates the discovery and engineering of a wide diversity of microbes faster and more efficiently. BioConsortia’s scientists affirmed GenePro has resulted in the discovery of novel genetic components driving nitrogen-fixation. BioConsortia’s proprietary bacterial strains fix nitrogen under conditions other N-fixing strains will not. This discovery validates the company’s position as a leader in microbe-derived alternatives for agriculture, has resulted in proprietary intellectual property, and will continue to drive our research focus. Expanding library through AMS: BioConsortia’s patent-protected “AMS” - Advanced Microbial Selection™ platform uses evolutionary biology practices to find beneficial microbes that the plant has selected for specific gains. AMS underpins the breadth, depth, and success of BioConsortia’s product pipeline. The company announced the addition of more than 2000 rice diazotrophic microbial strains to its library, following a research program using AMS. This large addition to the library has greatly accelerated BioConsortia’s nitrogen-fixation project for rice, a crop with a paddy production model that represents a unique opportunity to impact the sustainability practices of both large and small growers of one of the world’s most fertilized crops. Novel Bactericide Project: BioConsortia also introduced a new project focused on optimizing microbes for the production of metabolites active against bacterial disease. Project leaders highlighted early technological success within this project – again reliant on the GenePro platform, which focuses on utilizing novel tools to address evolving bacterial disease resistance and increasing bacterial pest pressure resulting from climatic challenges and global trade flows. Novel Multi-spectrum Insecticide: Additionally, the company updated progress on a novel, developmental microbial active ingredient designed to deliver broad-spectrum control of both nematodes and critically important coleopteran and lepidopteran pests. The project aims to deliver a novel mode of action to support and extend crop trait lifecycles in the face of emerging insect resistance. Nematicide leads were originally characterized as strong root colonizers employing the company’s RhizoViz™ system, which uses proteins to visualize colonization robustness in different soils and environmental conditions. BioConsortia’s nematicide pipeline is now among the most expansive in agricultural research. “BioConsortia’s pipeline progress highlights the strengths of the company’s R&D platform – unique in the industry in terms of discovery of plant-affiliated microbes and their optimization as solutions for agriculture,” said Dr. Hong Zhu, Senior VP of Research and Development at BioConsortia. About BioConsortia BioConsortia, Inc. develops superior microbial products that protect plants, enhance fertility, and increase yields while improving the sustainability of agriculture for our environment. Pioneering the use of directed selection within microbial communities, our patented Advanced Microbial Selection process and cutting-edge GenePro genomics and gene-engineering platform enable us to predict, design, and unleash the natural power of microbes.

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