Virica Biotech | January 17, 2024
Virica Biotech Inc. (“Virica”), a leading developer of cell enhancers for scaling of viral vector as well as cell and gene therapy manufacturing will expand its bioprocessing services through a partnership with Carleton University. Slated to open this spring, Virica’s new facility at the university multiplies the Company’s capacity to provide high throughput virology services for customers looking to optimize production of their cell and gene therapies.
“Carleton’s new Health Sciences Building provides us with greater access to modern infrastructure and analytical expertise,” said Jean Simon Diallo, Ph.D., CEO of Virica Biotech. “Their state-of-the-art analytical research facilities and world-class researchers across multiple disciplines open the door to exciting opportunities for partnering with Carleton University as we continue to invest to meet customer demand.”
“We are very pleased to welcome Virica Biotech to the Carleton campus,” said Rafik Goubran, Ph.D., Vice-President (Research and International) and Chancellor’s Professor, Carleton University. “This multi-year, multi-million-dollar research and infrastructure partnership will help drive innovation and talent development in the Ottawa region for the creation and manufacturing of advanced therapies.”
This partnership expands on Carleton’s history of supporting Ottawa biotechnology companies. The new open concept facility will include high throughput equipment to accelerate Virica’s bioprocess development and optimizations. In addition to expanded modern infrastructure, this new location enables the development and recruitment of world-class talent with experiential learning and training opportunities for Carleton students. Through this partnership, Carleton will coordinate the establishment of a scholarship fund designed to empower graduate students from traditionally underrepresented groups in science.
About Virica Biotech
Virica develops cell enhancers for viral vectors that improve the yield and quality of vaccines and cell and gene therapies, allowing developers to economically deploy their products at scale. Virica’s Viral Sensitizer (VSE™) platform reduces production inefficiencies caused by anti-viral defenses in manufacturing cells. Purpose formulated VSE combinations substantially increase manufacturing yields and reduce the cost of goods for a range of life-changing products, including vaccines, gene therapies, and cell therapies.
About Carleton University
Carleton University is a dynamic, research-intensive institution that engages in partnerships to address the world’s most pressing challenges. The university’s corporate collaborations bring together world-class companies, researchers and a new generation of talent with over 30,000 students to deliver innovations and results that are driving a more prosperous, sustainable future.
Jnana Therapeutics, Inc. | February 02, 2024
Jnana Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company leveraging its next-generation chemoproteomics platform to discover medicines for challenging-to-drug targets, today announced positive, statistically significant interim results from its ongoing clinical study of JNT-517 in individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU). JNT-517, a small molecule inhibitor of the phenylalanine (Phe) transporter SLC6A19, is being evaluated as a potential first-in-class oral treatment for PKU across all ages and genotypes. On the basis of these positive interim results, Jnana has adapted the Phase 1b trial design to support the potential for accelerated progression of JNT-517.
“There is an urgent need for an oral, safe, and efficacious therapy for the more than 60% of individuals with PKU not currently on therapy. Across the spectrum of mild to severe disease, our results demonstrate a robust, sustained reduction in blood Phe levels, the registrational endpoint for PKU, giving us high confidence in the path forward for JNT-517,” said George Vratsanos, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and Head of R&D at Jnana Therapeutics. “We are also encouraged by this validation of the power of our RAPID platform to discover small molecules with compelling clinical benefit against challenging-to-drug targets.”
JNT-517 is being studied in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in individuals with mild to severe PKU. Following a 28-day screening period focused predominantly on ensuring an average blood Phe level of >600µM, study participants were randomized with no run-in period to 75mg of JNT-517 twice daily (BID) or placebo.
The planned interim analysis was based on 13 participants, eight dosed with JNT-517 and five dosed with placebo over 28 days, and demonstrated the following results
JNT-517 led to a statistically significant (p=0.0019 vs. placebo) mean blood Phe reduction from baseline of 51%, measured per-protocol at day 28.
A high response rate was seen where seven of eight (88%) treated participants achieved >30% reduction in blood Phe from baseline; five of eight (63%) achieved >45% reduction; and two of eight (25%) achieved >65% reduction.
A robust response was seen across participants treated with JNT-517 irrespective of baseline blood Phe levels, which ranged from 593µM to 1,526µM with a mean of 1,124µM.
A rapid onset of effect was observed with significant blood Phe reduction achieved within seven days after commencing dosing, which was sustained through the full 28 days of dosing.
JNT-517 was safe and well tolerated with no serious adverse events and no clinically significant changes in laboratory parameters, consistent with the safety profile demonstrated in the Phase 1a healthy volunteer study.
"JNT-517 represents a completely new therapeutic approach that could transform the current treatment paradigm in PKU, in particular for individuals with severe, or classical, PKU where there is the highest unmet medical need,” said Cary O. Harding, M.D., study investigator and Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics at Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine. “I am encouraged by the clinical results to date and look forward to working with Jnana and the PKU community to continue to advance this program.”
Based on these interim results, Jnana has adapted the protocol of the ongoing trial to include dose exploration. Jnana expects topline data from the second dose cohort in mid-2024 and plans to submit full data from the two dose cohorts for presentation at a scientific meeting in the second half of 2024. Jnana anticipates the company will engage regulators in the second half of 2024 and seek to advance JNT-517 directly into a pivotal Phase 3 study in the first half of 2025.
JNT-517 Phase 1b Clinical Trial
The ongoing clinical program includes a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluating the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and effect on blood and urinary Phe of JNT-517 dosed over a four-week period in individuals diagnosed with PKU. The study dosed its first participant with PKU in August 2023 and is enrolling individuals aged 18 to 65 at clinical sites in the United States and Australia. For more information about the study, please see clinicaltrials.gov (NCT05781399).
JNT-517 is a selective small molecule inhibitor of the Phe transporter SLC6A19 that has the potential to be a first-in-class oral therapy used to treat any person with PKU, regardless of age or genotype. JNT-517 acts at a novel, cryptic allosteric site to block kidney reabsorption of Phe and offers a promising new approach to reduce blood Phe levels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted JNT-517 Rare Pediatric Disease Designation in late 2022.
PKU is a rare inherited metabolic disorder caused by a deficiency of the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH). This enzyme is required for the breakdown of phenylalanine (Phe), an amino acid found in all protein-containing foods. When PAH is deficient or defective, Phe accumulates to abnormally high levels in the blood. If left untreated, toxic levels of Phe in the blood can result in progressive and severe neurological impairment and neuropsychological complications. The SLC transporter SLC6A19 is responsible for kidney reabsorption of Phe back into the bloodstream, and the inhibition of SLC6A19 offers a novel, oral approach for the treatment of PKU by facilitating urinary excretion of excess Phe.
About Jnana Therapeutics
Jnana Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company leveraging its next-generation RAPID chemoproteomics platform to discover medicines for highly validated, challenging-to-drug targets to treat diseases with high unmet needs. Jnana is focused on developing first- and best-in-class therapies to treat a wide range of diseases, including rare diseases and immune-mediated diseases. Jnana’s wholly owned lead program, JNT-517, which targets an allosteric site on the phenylalanine transporter SLC6A19, is a potential first-in-class oral approach for the treatment of PKU, a rare genetic metabolic disease. Located in Boston, Jnana brings together scientific leaders in small molecule drug discovery and development, a highly experienced management team, and the backing of leading life science investors Bain Capital Life Sciences, RA Capital Management, Polaris Partners, Versant Ventures, Avalon Ventures, Pfizer Ventures, and AbbVie Ventures.
Frontage | January 02, 2024
Frontage Laboratories, Inc. announced that, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Frontage Europe S.r.l., it has completed the acquisition of the Bioanalytical and Drug Metabolism & Pharmacokinetics businesses of Accelera S.r.l (Accelera).
Accelera is a premier Contract Research Organization located in Nerviano, within the Lombardy region of Italy, part of the well-established NMS Group S.p.A. which has positioned itself as a global niche player in delivering discovery & preclinical studies and clinical bioanalysis to pharma and biotechnology companies, academic institutions, and other healthcare stakeholders.
"Today marks a very significant achievement in the 23-year history of Frontage Laboratories, as we establish a base of operations in continental Europe. Accelera has developed a tremendous reputation for high quality R&D services and we look forward to welcoming their Bioanalytical and Drug Metabolism & Pharmacokinetics teams to the Frontage family," said Dr. Abdul Mutlib, CEO of Frontage. "We envision this strategic acquisition as a first step in establishing Frontage's footprint in Europe, with the intent of adding other service areas in the continent. We believe both existing Frontage and Accelera clients stand to benefit greatly by leveraging Frontage's increasingly global platform. In addition, we are looking forward to partnering with the remaining Accelera business on exciting opportunities to service clients across our organizations."
According to Dr. Song Li, Founder and Chairman of Frontage: "It has been a long-standing goal of Frontage to expand our operations in Europe. We consider ourselves fortunate to capitalize on our outstanding relationship with the Accelera team, which has enabled us to bring our plans to fruition. We are very enthusiastic about working together as we further develop the Frontage platform in Europe, starting from a footprint in the Biopark in Nerviano Lombardy, where Accelera and Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl have already established a long-standing and efficient value chain. As always, our ongoing focus will remain on delivering the highest levels of quality, technology and expertise to our clients."
"We are thrilled to join forces with Frontage as part of this strategic acquisition that marks a significant milestone in Accelera's journey," said Luca Leone, CEO of Accelera. "Accelera has built a strong reputation for delivering high-quality R&D services through all phases of drug research and development with extensive experience in oncology. This unique occasion opens up new horizons for collaboration and growth. On one hand, we will further focus on offering top-notch In-vivo (end-to-end services) for multiple emerging modalities. At the same time, we look forward to exploring exciting opportunities to serve our clients across continents through our ongoing collaboration. This partnership reflects our commitment to advancing research and providing innovative solutions in the European market and beyond," said Luca Leone, CEO of Accelera S.r.l.
"Having Frontage as part of the growing partners operating from our Biopark is a landmark moment for us. In addition to the endless potential of the Accelera-Frontage collaboration, Nerviano Medical Sciences can leverage Frontage's world-class capabilities to drive breakthrough advancements in our drug discovery and development process. By uniting our strengths, we believe we can accelerate the pace of innovation and make a lasting difference in the field where all companies of this strong alliance operate and thrive here in Nerviano," said Hugues Dolgos, CEO of NMS Group S.p.A and Nerviano Medical Sciences Srl.V
Frontage Holdings Corp together with its wholly owned subsidiary Frontage Laboratories, Inc., is a global Contract Research Organization (CRO) which provides integrated, science-driven, product development services from drug discovery to late phase clinical process to enable biopharmaceutical companies to achieve their development goals. Comprehensive services include drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, analytical testing and formulation development, preclinical and clinical trial material manufacturing, bioanalysis, preclinical safety and toxicology assessment and early phase clinical studies. Frontage has enabled many biotechnology companies and leading pharmaceutical companies of varying sizes to advance a myriad of new molecules through development and to successfully file global regulatory submissions.