Bacterial Colonies Engineered to Mimic Another Aspect of Multicellular Lifeforms

GEN | August 13, 2019

Although bacteria may form colonies and biofilms, they do not constitute multicellular lifeforms like, well, us. Bacteria lack the ability to coordinate the basics of multicellularity, which include intercellular communication, cell adhesion, and asymmetric cell division. If this ability could be engineered into bacteria, they would become wonderfully strange a science fiction nightmare, perhaps, or more likely a synthetic biologist’s dream. Each of these three basics of multicellular life has already been engineered into bacteria separately, not as components of a controllable, coordinated system. Both intercellular communication and cell-cell adhesion technologies are available to module-minded synthetic biologists. And now, thanks to the efforts of scientists based at Rice University, the third puzzle piece—asymmetric cell division—has become available. How might all the puzzle pieces fit together in future research? The imagination reels. The Rice scientists, led by synthetic biologist Matthew R. Bennett, PhD, have created a genetic circuit that can produce genetically distinguished cells of Escherichia coli as the bacterium divides. The circuit helps bacteria accomplish, in their own way, stem-cell-like differentiation. Properly controlled, the circuit can lead to diverse communities of microbes that exhibit complex, nonnative behaviors.

Spotlight

And how diversified are the biotech companies in Europe nowadays? Let’s take the human body to know who works on what. From the brain to the kidney, from Genfit to Cellectis. Here is an infographic-based overview of some of the target areas that European start-ups and publicly listed companies are working on.

Spotlight

And how diversified are the biotech companies in Europe nowadays? Let’s take the human body to know who works on what. From the brain to the kidney, from Genfit to Cellectis. Here is an infographic-based overview of some of the target areas that European start-ups and publicly listed companies are working on.

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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.

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MEDICAL

Vibe Bio Announced the Launch to Develop Novel Treatments for Rare Diseases

Vibe Bio | June 23, 2022

Vibe Biotechnology Inc., a biotechnology company committed to identifying, funding, and developing promising treatments for rare diseases, announced officially launching with $12 million in funding to advance its community-driven approach to transforming drug development for patients with rare diseases. Vibe Bio plans on building a global community of scientists, researchers, patients, and partners with an aim to find cures for rare diseases by efficiently using a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), The company’s DAO will serve as an online coordination hub for its numerous stakeholders, connecting patients directly to researchers, scientists, investors, and other experts. In addition, through its $VIBE governance token, members of Vibe Bio can vote and nominate which specific diseases, candidate medicines, or rare disease research proposals to pursue. These proposals will each be vetted by financial experts and scientists. Vibe Bio has already joined hands with two patient advocacy organizations to launch and fund independent biotechnology companies for developing and pursuing effective therapeutic solutions for rare and often fatal diseases. One in 10 Americans is living with a rare disease. For too many, the time it would take to develop a cure is longer than the time they have left to live, The challenge for rare diseases isn’t necessarily finding a treatment – it’s funding it. For the first time, Vibe Bio is giving patients with rare and overlooked diseases access to the funding and community support they need to develop cures and ownership over the results.” Alok Tayi, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Vibe Bio. Vibe Bio is building a new approach to drug development that is providing a lifeline – and renewed hope – for patients and their families, I’m thrilled to be a part of its community and champion its mission as Vibe Bio identifies and funds medicines that will improve the quality of life for people living with rare diseases.” Parul Singh, Partner at Initialized Capital.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Orion Biotechnology and Peptilogics Enter Strategic Research Collaboration to Enable AI-Driven Drug Discovery Against Undrugged GPCR Target

Orion Biotechnology | July 15, 2022

Orion Biotechnology Canada Ltd, a drug discovery company targeting previously undruggable G Protein-Coupled Receptors and Peptilogics, a biotech company engineering peptide therapeutics by combining computation and biology to improve the treatment landscape for patients with life-threatening diseases, announced today that they have entered a research and development collaboration to leverage AI for drug discovery against an undrugged GPCR target. The collaboration will combine the capabilities of Peptilogics’ AI platform (NautilusTM) with Orion Biotechnology’s proprietary drug discovery platform. The companies will leverage expertise in peptide design and engineering to drive drug discovery against an undrugged peptidergic GPCR linked to highly prevalent, life-threatening diseases. Peptilogics’ Nautilus™ platform enables in silico predictive peptide design across diverse targets to efficiently access new functional chemical space and custom-design therapeutics. Additionally, Peptilogics’ supercomputer accelerates model development, prediction and evaluation of peptide sequences to produce higher quality hits with greater chance of success. Synergistically, Orion Biotechnology’s platform explores receptor-ligand shape space using proprietary multiplex synthesis technology to generate precision-engineered peptides with enhanced potency and tailored signaling activity. Orion’s platform generates data matrices for AI-assisted lead optimization, offering one of the fastest drug discovery and development solutions to target peptidergic GPCRs. On the announcement of this collaboration, Dr. Oliver Hartley, VP Drug Discovery at Orion Biotechnology, commented, “We are pleased to be partnering with Peptilogics to push the boundaries of receptor pharmacology and AI computing to accelerate innovation for improved patient outcomes. An AI-driven paradigm shift is happening in drug discovery, and Orion is pleased to be at the forefront of applying AI to the highly valuable space around GPCRs. The ideal fit between Orion’s platform and unique knowledge of receptor-ligand interactions with Peptilogics’ machine learning models will position us to make AI-driven GPCR drug discovery a reality.” “Using Peptilogics’ Nautilus™ platform, we combine proprietary deep generative models, predictive models and biophysical simulation to design multiparameter-optimized peptides that have the potential to address historically challenging and novel drug targets. Our AI algorithms enable efficient navigation of the vast peptide design space, allowing us to uncover molecules that may not be discovered through traditional screening. We are excited to partner with Orion Biotechnology for their deep GPCR expertise. By combining the strengths of Peptilogics’ Nautilus™ AI-driven peptide design platform and Orion’s GPCR platform, we aim to reduce the risk, time and cost for drug design.” Nicholas Nystrom, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer of Peptilogics About Orion Biotechnology Orion Biotechnology Canada Ltd. is unlocking the therapeutic potential of previously undruggable G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs). Orion’s world-renowned experts in GPCR pharmacology and peptide/protein engineering leverage Orion’s proprietary drug discovery platform to rapidly and efficiently advance a diversified portfolio of precision engineered GPCR-targeted therapeutic candidates for the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases. About Peptilogics Peptilogics engineers peptide therapeutic candidates to radically improve the treatment landscape for patients with life-threatening diseases. Through biological and pharmaceutical expertise, novel artificial intelligence algorithms, and purpose-built super-computing, Peptilogics is advancing an extensive therapeutic pipeline and accelerating discovery efforts at a pace and scale that was previously impossible. Peptilogics is backed by visionary investors in life science and technology including Peter Thiel, Presight Capital, Founders Fund, CARB-X, and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

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