Bay Area Biotech Incubator Opens Extensive New Lab Facility, Paving Way for Entrepreneurs and Their Innovation

MBC BioLabs | May 11, 2020

Innovation and discovery just got easier for life science entrepreneurs as MBC BioLabs announces the opening of a 30,000 square foot building of incubator lab space in San Carlos, Calif. Built specifically as a life-science incubator space over the past 18 months, the new facility brings cutting-edge lab equipment, infrastructure and services to innovators and entrepreneurs so they can begin their discovery work virtually immediately.  This is MBC BioLabs' third campus and its second in San Carlos.  Its first lab opened in San Francisco in 2013.  This "rent a bench" concept is critically important in speeding discovery and empowering entrepreneurial scientists to be fast, frugal and focused. "In the first 6 years the companies in our labs have brought 53 programs to the clinic, produced 13 approved diagnostics, and raised over $4.5 billion – this is just the sort of innovation we need to meet today's critical healthcare needs," said Douglas Crawford, general manager of MBC BioLabs. Crawford expects to have 19 companies in the new lab immediately and a total of about 50 startups operational in just a few months, performing experiments and aiming to prove concepts and bring new advances to the world.

Spotlight

Setting up live cell experiments can be challenging, as temperature, CO2, and evaporation need to be carefully controlled to ensure optimal cell growth conditions. In this technical note, we monitor evaporation rates, cell growth and morphology inside the temperature- and CO2-controlled live cell chamber of the Operetta CLS high-content analysis system and compare the results with those obtained using a humidity-controlled cell culture incubator.

Spotlight

Setting up live cell experiments can be challenging, as temperature, CO2, and evaporation need to be carefully controlled to ensure optimal cell growth conditions. In this technical note, we monitor evaporation rates, cell growth and morphology inside the temperature- and CO2-controlled live cell chamber of the Operetta CLS high-content analysis system and compare the results with those obtained using a humidity-controlled cell culture incubator.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Antheia and Ginkgo Bioworks Announce Partnership to Accelerate Production of Essential Medicines using Synthetic Biology

Antheia | August 13, 2021

Antheia, a synthetic biology company enabling next-generation plant-inspired medicines, and Ginkgo Bioworks, which is building the leading horizontal platform for cell programming, today announced a partnership to accelerate the development and production of essential medicines. Ginkgo, which recently announced a business combination with Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: SRNG), serves customers across industries seeking to develop new and better products. Antheia plans to leverage Ginkgo's high throughput enzyme design and screening capabilities to broaden its pipeline of critical active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and key starting materials (KSMs). Nearly half of all medicines today are sourced from nature, and many of the most widely used essential medicines are sourced directly from medicinal plants. The World Health Organization classifies "essential medicines" as medicines "that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population." The supply chains for most critical plant-based medicines are fragile, and depend on a years-long process of growing, harvesting, transporting, and processing specialty plants. During times of extreme demand or constrained supply, many plant-based medicines, including widely used analgesics and sedatives, can be in shortage, as was recently the case during the COVID-19 pandemic. "Antheia is committed to using synthetic biology to enable more equitable access to essential medicines," said Kristy Hawkins, CSO and co-founder at Antheia. "By partnering with Ginkgo Bioworks, a global leader in organism engineering, we are greatly increasing our ability to develop essential medicines at the speed and scale necessary to drive change in global pharma supply chains." Synthetic biology platforms, such as those created by Antheia and Ginkgo Bioworks, make it possible for critical medicines to be produced on-demand in a much more efficient and environmentally friendly process compared to today's fragmented production systems. Additionally, when it comes to plant-based pharmaceuticals, biomanufacturing has significant advantages in supply chain resiliency and agility, cost, quality control, sustainability and efficiency compared to the conventional production methods, which are based on crop farming. "We're proud to partner with Antheia, a leader in the application of synthetic biology, as they leverage our platform to produce essential medicines at scale," said Tom Knight, co-founder at Ginkgo Bioworks. "Antheia and Ginkgo are both committed to using biology to build a better future, and we look forward to a long lasting partnership that will drive substantial impact." Antheia is focused on plant-inspired pharmaceuticals that are too complex to be produced through scalable synthetic chemistry processes. Antheia has managed to efficiently produce these highly-complex pharmaceuticals by pioneering whole-cell engineering, a technique that reconstructs multi-step biosynthetic pathways of unprecedented complexity in yeast cells. As Antheia brings its engineered microbes to commercial scale, it continually invests in strain optimization to ensure highly efficient production of the pharmaceutical compound of interest. Through this partnership, Antheia plans to leverage Ginkgo's extensive and rapid cell programming platform and biological codebase to greatly expand and accelerate its strain and enzyme engineering work. "Antheia is at the cutting edge of synthetic biology innovation, and its whole-cell engineering platform is capable of producing entire classes of medicines that were previously inaccessible," said Barry Canton, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Ginkgo Bioworks. "We are thrilled that Ginkgo's platform can support innovators like Antheia as they create next generation manufacturing technologies for essential medicines." About Antheia Antheia is unlocking the medicinal power of nature with synthetic biology. Through a novel whole-cell engineering approach to reconstruct complex molecules in yeast, Antheia's platform enables the discovery and manufacturing of plant-inspired drugs of unprecedented complexity and diversity. Antheia's team of scientists and technologists is headquartered in Menlo Park, California.

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MEDICAL

Pfizer Invests $120 Million in Four Clinical-stage Biotech Companies Through the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative

Pfizer | January 15, 2021

Pfizer Inc. declared that, during the second 50% of 2020, it put a sum of $120 million of every four clinical-stage biotech organizations as a feature of the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative (PBGI). Through PBGI, Pfizer is putting up to $500 million in biotechnology organizations, giving subsidizing and admittance to Pfizer's logical skill to help guarantee the coherence of promising clinical improvement projects of likely future vital interest to Pfizer. Pfizer's initial PBGI investments include: $10 million in Vancouver, BC-based ESSA Pharma, a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company focused on developing novel and proprietary therapies for the treatment of patients with prostate cancer. $25 million in Cambridge, Mass.-based Trillium Therapeutics, a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company focused on developing innovative therapies for the treatment of cancer. In addition, Jeff Settleman, Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Pfizer’s Oncology Research & Development Group, was named to Trillium’s Scientific Advisory Board.

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MEDICAL

BioAgilytix to Purchase Australia-based 360biolabs®

BioAgilytix | August 17, 2021

BioAgilytix Labs,a leading global contract research laboratory focused on supporting its pharmaceutical and biotech partners in all stages of large molecule drug development, announced today that it signed a definitive agreement to purchase 360biolabs®, the most comprehensive contract research organization in Australia. The transaction will expand BioAgilytix's global footprint into a jurisdiction of choice to commence first-in-human trials (FIH) and early-phase clinical trials and adds further capacity by joining 360biolabs' internationally recognised Quality systems in Melbourne, Victoria with BioAgilytix's existing laboratories in Durham, North Carolina; Boston, Massachusetts; and Hamburg, Germany. Located in Australia's biomedical and clinical research hub, 360biolabs offers world-class virology and immunology expertise, with BSL 2 and 3 laboratories, biomarker and immune monitoring capabilities with a state-of-the-art flow cytometry suite, molecular biology PCR suite and expansive bioanalytical LC-MS/MS small molecule capabilities. "This planned acquisition is part of our strategic growth strategy to expand our capacity, expertise and agility to serve customers across all geographies, and we look forward to welcoming the 360biolabs team and integrating the business," said Jim Datin, President and CEO of BioAgilytix. "Joining forces makes sense for our two organizations, but most importantly for our combined clients and the patients they serve. BioAgilytix and 360biolabs are already culturally aligned in our focus on doing science right, on time, the first time. Together, we will not only create significant scientific synergies but also generate new innovations and help bring future life-changing therapeutics to patients more rapidly around the globe." "From the launch of 360biolabs in 2015, our strategic vision was to build a global speciality laboratory, providing support to enable future medicines for human health," said Angela Luttick, 360biolabs Cofounder and Executive Vice President, Business Development. Added 360biolabs Cofounder and CEO Alistair Draffan, "Finding a like-minded partner, driven by a team-focused culture of excellence with an international reputation, US and European presence, will drive our strategic expansion and support our clients' clinical development programs." Melinda Pryor, Cofounder and Executive Vice President, Clinical stated, "We're excited to join forces with the BioAgilytix team, a company that shares our strong scientific track record and commitment to quality and service. Together, we have the capabilities and capacity to meet all challenges, especially in this time of pandemic, and create enduring opportunities for a brighter future." The Burnet Institute, a global medical research and public health organisation, is a Cofounder and majority shareholder of 360biolabs. Burnet Institute Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC said, "Burnet Institute is proud of its involvement in the foundation of 360biolabs. It is the right time, with the growing need for high quality clinical trial support, for a company of the scale, capability, and reputation of 360biolabs to join with BioAgilytix and expand their capacity to service their customers and facilitate high quality translational medical research." The acquisition is subject to Australian Foreign Investment Review Board ("FIRB") requirements and, subject to receipt of FIRB approval, is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021. BioAgilytix selected White & Case as legal counsel to oversee the closing of the acquisition, with Lazard Australia and Allens representing 360biolabs. About BioAgilytix BioAgilytix is a leading bioanalytical testing laboratory specializing in large molecule bioanalysis. With laboratory locations in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, the Cambridge area of Massachusetts, and Hamburg, Germany, BioAgilytix provides PK, immunogenicity, biomarkers, and cell-based assay services supporting the development and release testing of biologics across a number of industries and disease states. BioAgilytix offers assay development, validation, and sample analysis under non-GLP, GLP, and GCP, as well as GMP quality control testing (i.e., product release testing, stability testing, etc.). BioAgilytix also offers diagnostic testing services at its CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited Boston laboratory. About 360biolabs® 360biolabs® is the leading and most comprehensive specialty laboratory in the Australia & New Zealand region. Our expert pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) assay services support small molecule, biologic, vaccine and other innovative therapeutic solutions to human health. A world class and industry experienced technical team, known for their ability to successfully deliver technically challenging assays, 360biolabs® supports global Pharmaceutical and biotech companies in a diverse and growing range of therapeutics areas.

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