Biotech leaders speak out against dismissals of Chinese scientists

Chinas theft of intellectual property from the U.S. and other countries isnt new remember the Genentech scientists and the GlaxoSmithKline researchers who funneled trade secrets to associates in China and Taiwan? But a government crackdown to counter theft has highlighted another threat, one that could damage U.S. leadership in the life sciences. Recently, some scientists from China, or American-born of Chinese heritage, have been summarily dismissed from their university positions, creating a climate of fear and uncertainty in our biomedical communities, wrote Jeremy Levin, Ovid Therapeutic CEO and Chairman of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, along with Alnylam CEO John Maraganore, Decibel CEO Steven Holtzman, and Acorda CEO Ron Cohen in a letter that was signed by more than 150 industry leaders. The letter comes one year after the National Institutes of Health started a campaign to enforce rules requiring that scientists receiving its grants report their foreign ties. Since August 2018, the agency has sent about 180 letters to more than 60 institutions in the U.S., flagging individual scientists that it believes have broken those rules, according to a report in Science.

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MOMA Therapeutics Announces Five-Year Discovery Collaboration with Roche Focused on Critical Cancer Dependencies

MOMA Therapeutics | January 04, 2024

MOMA Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on identifying and targeting highly dynamic, difficult to drug targets in cancer and other diseases, is pleased to announce a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement with Roche. This partnership provides Roche with access to MOMA’s proprietary KnowledgeBase platform for the identification and prosecution of a certain number of novel drug targets involved in promoting cancer cell growth and survival. MOMA’s KnowledgeBase comprises integrated structure-function capabilities, advanced lead-finding technologies and computation-enabled lead optimization. It was built upon the concept that functionally related targets lacking sequence homology still possess three dimensional structural motifs that can be exploited to produce highly impactful therapies. To date, MOMA has utilized this bespoke platform to accelerate drug discovery in the ATPase target class, a class with a high number of genetically validated targets for which industry efforts to identify therapeutically viable drugs have been hampered by the extent of dynamic protein motion. “Given its deep expertise and global footprint in oncology, Roche represents an ideal collaborator with whom to further advance the application of MOMA’s platform in a way that impacts patients’ lives. The vision for this collaboration was crafted jointly with Roche to enable each party to bring its strengths in pursuit of this shared goal. It also contributes to the long-term sustainability of MOMA’s core focus as we advance our rich pipeline of precision oncology programs to the clinic,” said Asit Parikh, M.D., Ph.D., chief executive officer of MOMA. Through the collaboration, MOMA will receive $66 million as an upfront cash payment and is also eligible to receive discovery, development, and commercialization milestone payments potentially exceeding US$2 billion, as well as tiered royalties. MOMA will be primarily responsible for all activities for selected targets through to development candidate confirmation, whereas Roche will be responsible for IND-enabling activities and clinical development and commercialization. Additionally, if multiple collaboration assets reach pivotal clinical studies, MOMA will receive a right to co-fund late-stage development of one product in exchange for increased royalties in the US on this product. “We are excited to join forces with MOMA, combining our leadership in oncology with MOMA’s deep expertise in drug discovery for difficult-to-drug and novel targets in oncology. The broader field of cancer dependencies is of high importance for Roche and we are looking forward to further deepening our knowledge and discovering novel targets involved in cancer cell growth and survival leveraging MOMA’s innovative platform,” said James Sabry, M.D., Ph.D., global head of pharma partnering, Roche. “It is exciting to utilize our industry-leading knowledge in how to identify and drug highly dynamic proteins to deliver on a breadth of discovery programs in partnership with Roche,” added Peter Hammerman, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer and head of development at MOMA. “Along with bringing two MOMA-owned high-impact programs to the clinic next year, we are making exciting progress towards our goal of addressing key unmet needs for patients living with advanced cancer.” About MOMA Therapeutics MOMA Therapeutics is committed to discovering the next generation of precision medicines by targeting highly dynamic proteins that underlie human disease. Bringing together seminal scientific advancements in biochemistry, biophysics, structural biology, chemistry, computation, and functional genomics, the company has established the KnowledgeBase platform to exploit a key vulnerability inherent to all dynamic proteins: their dependence on well-coordinated, stepwise changes in protein conformation. By focusing this platform on disease-causing targets, MOMA aims to develop high impact, precision medicines for patients with unmet medical needs. MOMA Therapeutics is a private company launched in 2020 with seasoned leadership, a highly specialized workforce with deep expertise in oncology discovery, world-class scientific founders, and financed by leading biotech investors.

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Capricor Therapeutics Announces Collaboration with the National Institutes of Health for Clinical Trial of Novel Exosome-Based Multivalent Vaccine

Capricor Therapeutics | January 24, 2024

Capricor Therapeutics a biotechnology company developing transformative cell and exosome-based therapeutics for the treatment and prevention of rare diseases, today announced that Capricor’s proprietary StealthX™ exosome-based multivalent vaccine (StealthX™ vaccine) for the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 has been selected to be part of Project NextGen, an initiative by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to advance a pipeline of new, innovative vaccines providing broader and more durable protection for COVID-19. As part of Project NextGen, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, will conduct a Phase 1 clinical study with Capricor’s StealthX™ vaccine, subject to regulatory approval. NIAID's Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID) would oversee the study. “We are extremely pleased with the external support from the NIH, which highlights the clinical potential of our StealthX™ exosome platform technology and provides non-dilutive support for the advancement of our vaccine candidate,” said Linda Marbán, Ph.D., Capricor’s chief executive officer. “Our proprietary vaccine is multivalent, delivering both the highly mutagenic S protein (Spike) and the more stable N protein (Nucleocapsid) which potentially may offer broader and longer lasting immunity against SARS-CoV-2. We view the NIH SARS-CoV-2 project as the first clinical step towards development of a next generation vaccine platform that may be extended to other infectious diseases. Our platform is designed to combine the speed of response of an mRNA vaccine with the potential efficacy of a protein vaccine. Further, our StealthX™ vaccine is free of both adjuvant and lipid nanoparticles and in preclinical studies has generated a strong immune response at low doses. We believe our StealthX™ vaccine may offer a clinically meaningful alternative for highly mutating or novel infectious agents.” Dr. Marbán continued, “This is the opportunity we have been waiting for as it allows the exosome technology to be brought into the clinic as we continue to focus our resources on CAP-1002 for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Beyond SARS-CoV-2, we look forward to exploring the potential therapeutic utility of this platform, and more broadly, expanding our pipeline into therapeutics and future partnership opportunities.” About Capricor’s StealthX™ Vaccine The StealthX™ vaccine is a proprietary vaccine developed internally by Capricor utilizing exosomes that were engineered to express either spike or nucleocapsid proteins on the surface. Preclinical results from murine and rabbit models published in Microbiology Spectrum, showed the StealthX™ vaccine, resulted in robust antibody production, potent neutralizing antibodies, a strong T-cell response and a favorable safety profile. These effects were obtained with administration of only nanogram amounts of protein and without adjuvant or synthetic lipid nanoparticles (LNPs). Exosomes offer a new antigen delivery system that potentially could be utilized to rapidly generate multivalent protein-based vaccines. Exosomes, first identified as extracellular vesicles, are small vesicles enriched in specific subsets of proteins, RNAs and lipids and responsible for cell-to-cell communication. About Capricor Therapeutics Capricor Therapeutics, Inc. is a biotechnology company focused on the development of transformative cell and exosome-based therapeutics for the treatment and prevention of rare diseases. Capricor’s lead candidate, CAP-1002, is an allogeneic cardiac-derived cell therapy currently in Phase 3 clinical development for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Further, Capricor has entered into a partnership for the exclusive commercialization and distribution of CAP-1002 for DMD in the United States and Japan with Nippon Shinyaku Co., Ltd. (U.S. subsidiary: NS Pharma, Inc.), subject to regulatory approval. Capricor is also developing its exosome technology as a potential next-generation therapeutic platform. Our proprietary StealthX™ exosome platform has potential for a broad range of new therapeutic applications in the field of vaccinology as well as targeted oligonucleotide, protein and small molecule therapeutics to treat or prevent a variety of diseases.

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Personalis and ClearNote Health Announce Partnership to Advance Epigenomic Technology

Personalis, Inc. | February 05, 2024

Personalis, Inc. a leader in advanced genomics for cancer, and ClearNote Health, Inc., a pioneer in epigenomic technologies, today unveiled an alliance through which Personalis will expand its pharmaceutical service offerings by distributing ClearNote’s cutting-edge epigenomic 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) platform. “We have built a unique pharma channel based on our industry-leading tissue and MRD assays and ClearNote Health’s blood-based epigenomic approach is complementary to our offering as it helps our customers deepen their understanding of a patient’s response to immunotherapies,” said Chris Hall, CEO and President of Personalis. “Commercial partnerships such as this broaden our portfolio and are expected to appeal to a wide range of biopharma customers and accelerate our revenue growth.” Echoing this sentiment, Dave Mullarkey, CEO of ClearNote Health, remarked, “Partnering with Personalis presents an excellent opportunity to bring our 5hmC technology to the forefront of cancer research. This alliance is a testament to the synergy between our two companies, enabling us to expand our reach and significantly impact the biopharmaceutical industry. Together, we can accelerate the development of personalized therapies and make a real difference in the lives of patients.” ClearNote Health’s Epigenomics Platform represents a groundbreaking advance in cancer detection, offering real-time insights into disease-specific pathways. By tracking changes in 5hmC levels coupled with artificial intelligence-based analytical methods, the platform can detect cancer earlier, monitor disease progression, understand mechanisms of resistance, and identify promising drug targets and biomarkers. These insights are invaluable for optimizing drug development programs and delivering more effective treatments to patients. The Epigenomics Platform identifies changes in gene activation and gene regulation by labeling specific changes in the 5hmC landscape from plasma-derived cell-free DNA. This rich biological information, as part of clinical trials, enables the monitoring of cancer therapies in real time and contributes to an understanding of drug resistance mechanisms. The partnership marks a pivotal moment in cancer research, leveraging the strengths of both companies to offer unparalleled solutions in the biopharmaceutical industry. About ClearNote Heath, Inc. ClearNote Health is a cancer detection company focused on enabling people at risk for high-mortality cancers to live longer, healthier lives. Utilizing a standard blood draw, the company applies its proprietary epigenomic platform, combining biology and artificial intelligence, to identify DNA-based changes in biology as cancer develops. With lead programs in non-invasive early detection of pancreatic and ovarian cancers in patients at the highest risk for these diseases, ClearNote Health identifies cancers before they progress and when patients are most likely to benefit from treatment. ClearNote Health’s first commercially available test is the Avantect™ Pancreatic Cancer Test, which detects the presence of pancreatic cancer signals in patients at high risk of the disease, including those recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. ClearNote Health is headquartered in San Diego, with additional presence in the San Francisco Bay area and internationally. The company’s CLIA- and CAP-accredited laboratory is located in San Diego, Calif. About Personalis, Inc. At Personalis, we are transforming the active management of cancer through breakthrough personalized testing. We aim to drive a new paradigm for cancer management, guiding care from biopsy through the life of the patient. Our highly sensitive assays combine tumor-and-normal profiling with proprietary algorithms to deliver advanced insights even as cancer evolves over time. Our products are designed to detect minimal residual disease (MRD) and recurrence at the earliest time points, enable the selection of targeted therapies based on ultra-comprehensive genomic profiling, and enhance biomarker strategy for drug development. Personalis is based in Fremont, California.

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