MEDTECH

Biotech Start-Up Aanika Biosciences Lands Initial $12M Funding for Cutting-Edge Food Tracing Technology

Aanika Biosciences | December 01, 2021

Biotech Start-Up Aanika Biosciences Lands Initial $12M Funding for Cutting-Edge Food Tracing Technology
Biotech start-up Aanika Biosciences today announced the initial closing of its $12 million Series A round, led by Jon Cholak of Adit Ventures along with existing investors Draper Associates and SOSV. The investment will help scale the company’s food tracing technology platform, advance research and expand its Brooklyn food safety and manufacturing facility to approximately 30,000 square feet.

Aanika's proprietary technology is designed to accelerate the speed and accuracy of how food safety issues are handled. The platform, which uses edible microbial ‘tags,’ has already been tested on leafy greens and has the potential to be applied to other foods and ingredients including oils, coffee, meats and grains.

Innovation in food safety is long overdue, and there couldn’t be a more important time to bring a technology like this to the market. The pandemic has truly exposed the fragility of our supply chain. Being able to expand and build out our capability will give farmers, insurers, food companies and consumers an added layer of transparency and security, as well as minimize the economic and environmental impact of food recalls.”

 Dr. Ellen Jorgensen, Chief Science Officer for Aanika

The technology enables farmers to 'watermark' crops with edible, food-friendly microbes that can be detected at any point in the product’s journey through the supply chain, so that when there is a case of foodborne illness it can be traced directly to the source.

“Foodborne illness impacts over 50 million people and costs the U.S. tens of billions of dollars a year. Our technology can help minimize the impact and we are developing solutions that may prevent it from happening in the first place,” said co-founder and CEO of Aanika, Vishaal Bhuyan. “Identifying the origin of food recalls is just the start of what this platform can do. We are excited to see how far we can push our microbial technology to add value in the form of combating contamination, increasing nutritional content and supporting crop health. We are also exploring how our technology can even revolutionize agricultural insurance underwriting. All of this is driven by the power of biology.”

"We believe Aanika could transform the food system as their traceability technology can integrate with the blockchain and ensure high quality data from end-to-end,” said Tim Draper, Founder and Managing Partner of Draper Associates.

About Aanika Biosciences
Aanika Biosciences was co-founded in 2018 by Vishaal Bhuyan after he personally experienced the consequences of ordering fresh, ethically sourced seeds and receiving stale, contaminated products instead. He made it is his mission to create a safer food supply by finding a way to track, trace and authenticate products. Aanika’s customized microbial-based tags help companies gain valuable insights about their supply chains, help their customers make better consumption choices, and create a more sustainable world.

Spotlight

The synthetic biology community convened on March 6-7, 2018 at the “Canada Synbio 2018” Conference and Workshop as part of an ongoing effort to raise the profile and capacity of the synthetic biology community in Canada. The conference brought together a wide range of presenters and stakeholders in the interest not only of promoting and cultivating the synthetic biology community of practice, but also to begin establishing the common objectives and parameters for the field. As an emerging discipline at the cutting edge of technological development and scientific progress, synthetic biology is faced with an important set of challenges and opportunities in its process of continued development.

Spotlight

The synthetic biology community convened on March 6-7, 2018 at the “Canada Synbio 2018” Conference and Workshop as part of an ongoing effort to raise the profile and capacity of the synthetic biology community in Canada. The conference brought together a wide range of presenters and stakeholders in the interest not only of promoting and cultivating the synthetic biology community of practice, but also to begin establishing the common objectives and parameters for the field. As an emerging discipline at the cutting edge of technological development and scientific progress, synthetic biology is faced with an important set of challenges and opportunities in its process of continued development.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Kriya Acquires Redpin Therapeutics, Adding Neurology Pipeline to Gene Therapy Portfolio

Kriya Therapeutics | November 17, 2022

Kriya Therapeutics, Inc., a fully integrated gene therapy company advancing a broad portfolio of innovative therapeutics announced the acquisition of Redpin Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company developing regulatable gene therapies for intractable diseases of the nervous system. The acquisition serves as the foundation for Kriya’s neurology therapeutic area portfolio, with two lead gene therapy programs focused on epilepsy and trigeminal neuralgia. Redpin’s proprietary chemogenetics platform can selectively activate or silence disease-causing neurons, while leaving normal functioning cells unaffected. Currently available treatments for neurological disorders typically rely on systemically administered drugs or surgical interventions to address local neuron dysfunction. However, these approaches can have limited efficacy and off-target side effects. In contrast, chemogenetics leverages gene products that are selectively responsive to a chosen small molecule. Redpin’s technology utilizes gene therapy to express engineered ion channels that are responsive to modulation by the FDA-approved anti-smoking drug varenicline to either inhibit specific overactive neurons or stimulate underactive ones. “Redpin’s innovative chemogenetics platform has the potential to transform the lives of patients suffering from intractable neurological conditions. We are looking forward to integrating Redpin’s platform and pipeline into Kriya’s gene therapy engine as we advance our mission to develop life-changing gene therapies that can address diseases affecting millions of patients around the world.” Shankar Ramaswamy, M.D., Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kriya “Redpin has a built a breakthrough, validated chemogenetics approach that could have significant potential in the targeted treatment of neurological disorders,” said Dr. Elma Hawkins, Redpin Therapeutics’ President, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder. “Kriya Therapeutics is the perfect company to take this leading ion channel-based platform forward and deliver an effective treatment option for patients. We look forward to working with the Kriya team to progress these unique targeted therapies to patients in need as rapidly as possible.” Redpin’s investors include 4BIO Capital, Arkin Bio Ventures, Takeda Ventures Inc, New York Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments. About Epilepsy Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes recurrent spontaneous seizures. Approximately 3.4 million people in the U.S. suffer from active epilepsy, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Current treatments for epilepsy include medication, neurostimulation and surgery to remove sections of the affected part of the brain. However between 20% to 40% of patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy will become refractory to treatment, and will continue to suffer seizures. Uncontrolled epilepsy can lead to sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). About Trigeminal Neuralgia Trigeminal neuralgia also known as Tic Douloureux, is a severe and chronic disorder that affects the trigeminal, or fifth cranial, nerve. TN patients experience progressive intense stabbing facial pain attacks that can become more severe and last longer over time. Approximately 10,000 to 15,000 new cases of TN occur each year in the U.S., according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders. While currently available treatments include anti-seizure medications and surgical procedures, a significant proportion of patients are refractory to these approaches. About Kriya Therapeutics Kriya is a fully integrated company pioneering novel technologies and therapeutics in gene therapy. The company aims to revolutionize how gene therapies are designed, developed, and manufactured, improving speed to market and delivering significant reductions in cost. The company is advancing a deep and diversified pipeline of innovative gene therapies in multiple therapeutic area divisions, with current pipeline programs in metabolic disorders, neurology and ophthalmology. Kriya is backed by leading life sciences and technology investors, and has core operations in Silicon Valley, California and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. About Redpin Based in New York City, Redpin Therapeutics is a privately held, preclinical stage gene therapy company developing a proprietary chemogenetics platform for targeted cell therapies to address currently intractable diseases of the central nervous system. Using a powerful and innovative technology that inverts traditional drug development by using gene therapy to target an engineered receptor to any cell type responsible for disease and modulating its function with an already-approved drug. This has the potential to deliver effective treatments for a wide range of currently intractable neurological and psychiatric diseases and disorders. Redpin has a worldwide exclusive license from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the therapeutic use of this technology, and the company is working with urgency to apply it to advance important medicines for patients in desperate need of effective therapies.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

QIAGEN and Neuron23 Partner to Develop Next-Generation Sequencing Companion Diagnostic for Novel Parkinson’s Disease Drug

QIAGEN and Neuron23™ | September 15, 2022

QIAGEN and Neuron23 Inc., an early stage biotechnology company focused on developing precision medicines for genetically defined neurological and immunological diseases, announced the signing of an agreement to develop a companion diagnostic for Neuron23’s brain penetrant leucine-rich repeat kinase inhibitor for Parkinson’s disease. Under the new Master Collaboration Agreement, QIAGEN will develop and validate a clinical trial assay that will detect a combination of biomarkers discovered by Neuron23 that together predict the responsiveness of Parkinson’s disease to a LRRK2 inhibitor. The partnership will support the clinical development of Neuron23’s drug candidate that is currently in the late stages of preclinical development. Subject to further clinical development, the agreement also covers options for the future development of additional companion diagnostics. Neuron23 joins a group of more than 25 leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies who have reached master collaboration agreements with QIAGEN to develop and commercialize companion diagnostic tests for their drug candidates – a deep pipeline of potential future products to advance precision medicine for the benefit of patients around the world. The assay for this collaboration will be integrated into a next-generation sequencing workflow that leverages QIAGEN’s Sample to Insight capabilities, including instrumentation, IVD sample preparation, library preparation and bioinformatics. The workflow is planned to be developed using the NextSeqTM 500 System as part of the NGS strategic collaboration between QIAGEN and Illumina. Based on Neuron23’s artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled drug discovery and biomarker platform, it will target a complex signature of 50 single nucleic polymorphisms for U.S. and European populations and eventually additional SNPs that are prevalent in Asian populations. “The collaboration with Neuron23 shows the rapid momentum precision medicine is gaining in disease areas outside oncology. Our expertise in blood- and NGS-based molecular testing from Sample to Insight will enable Neuron23 to run a clinical trial for a drug candidate that may have the potential to modify the course of an inexorable neurodegenerative disease in a genetically defined population.” Jonathan Arnold, Vice President, Head of Oncology and Precision Diagnostics, at QIAGEN “This collaboration combines the leading expertise of Neuron23 in drug discovery, data science, and machine learning with QIAGEN’s long-standing experience and global leadership in companion diagnostic development. QIAGEN’s blood-based test will help to identify patients with Parkinson’s disease who are likely to respond to Neuron23’s LRRK2 inhibitor. The development of a companion diagnostic identifying this sub-population of Parkinson’s disease patients will de-risk the clinical development of Neuron23’s LRRK2 inhibitor and help identify individuals who may benefit from this disease-modifying therapy. We are excited to be working with an industry leader on the first companion diagnostic developed for Parkinson’s disease,” said Nancy Stagliano, Ph.D., CEO of Neuron23. No laboratory tests are currently available for the diagnosis of non-genetic cases for Parkinson’s disease. Usually, the disease is diagnosed based on medical history and neurological examination. Although no cure currently exists for Parkinson’s disease, therapies are used to alleviate some symptoms. LRRK2 is a complex, multidomain protein found in neurons and many tissues and cell types throughout the body. Mutations in the LRRK2 gene are one of the most common causes of familial Parkinson’s disease and individuals who inherit gain of function mutations in LRRK2 are clearly at higher risk to develop the disease in later life. Additionally, there is emerging evidence that LRRK2 may play a role in a subset of the larger population of patients with non-familial Parkinson’s disease. Recent investigations have shown that small-molecule LRRK2 inhibitors can be neuroprotective, suggesting that therapies targeting LRRK2 could be beneficial in a larger population of patients. QIAGEN is a pioneer in precision medicine and the global leader in collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to co-develop companion diagnostics, which detect clinically relevant genetic abnormalities to provide insights that guide clinical decision-making in diseases such as cancer. QIAGEN has an unmatched depth and breadth of technologies from NGS to polymerase chain reaction and digital PCR for companion diagnostic development. QIAGEN has ten PCR based companion diagnostic indications that are FDA approved, including therascreen EGFR for non-small cell lung cancer, therascreen KRAS for colorectal cancer and NSCLC, therascreen FGFR for urothelial cancer, therascreen PIK3CA for breast cancer based on tissue or plasma samples and the therascreen BRAF kit for colorectal cancer. About QIAGEN QIAGEN N.V., a Netherlands-based holding company, is the leading global provider of Sample to Insight solutions that enable customers to gain valuable molecular insights from samples containing the building blocks of life. Our sample technologies isolate and process DNA, RNA and proteins from blood, tissue and other materials. Assay technologies make these biomolecules visible and ready for analysis. Bioinformatics software and knowledge bases interpret data to report relevant, actionable insights. Automation solutions tie these together in seamless and cost-effective workflows. QIAGEN provides solutions to more than 500,000 customers around the world in Molecular Diagnostics, Applied Testing, Pharma and Academia. As of June 30, 2022, QIAGEN employed more than 6,100 people in over 35 locations worldwide. About Neuron23™ Neuron23™ Inc. is an early stage biotechnology company focused on developing precision medicines for genetically defined neurological and immunological diseases. Neuron23 combines recent advances in human genetics with a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled drug discovery and biomarker platform to advance therapeutics for devastating diseases. The Company’s focus areas are neurodegenerative diseases, neuroinflammatory diseases, and systemic autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Founded in 2018, Neuron23 has assembled a world-class team of experts and entrepreneurs located in South San Francisco, CA.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Lunaphore and Nucleai announce a partnership to provide AIpowered spatial biology analysis to accelerate drug development

Lunaphore and Nucleai | September 09, 2022

Lunaphore, a Swiss life sciences company developing technology to enable spatial biology in every laboratory, and Nucleai, a leader in AI-powered spatial biology transforming precision medicine by unlocking the power of pathology data announced a collaboration to accelerate the discovery of novel biomarkers and drug targets using the latest spatial imaging and machine learning technologies. “We are thrilled to announce the partnership with Lunaphore and combine Lunaphore’s best-in-class flagship COMET™, a hyperplex staining and imaging platform, with Nucleai’s ATOM platform that uniquely supports multiplex, IHC, and H&E data. This strategic partnership will allow us to utilize multiplex technology and provide a complete, actionable, and scalable solution to improve drug target discovery and development of our pharma and biotech partners.” Avi Veidman, Chief Executive Officer of Nucleai Mapping biological microenvironments with spatial mapping technology is an exciting area of discovery. Lunaphore’s novel COMET™ technology unlocks the power of immunofluorescence spatial biology with a robust and user-friendly system, permitting the use of any non-conjugated antibodies and enabling the wide adoption of spatial biology in laboratories. Nucleai has built a platform that makes spatial analysis scalable and operational, enabling the next generation of actionable insights from massive pathology data sets that have not been analyzed to their fullest potential and could provide significant value to pharmaceutical companies and diagnostic labs. The partnership will utilize Lunaphore’s innovative COMET™ platform for hyperplex staining and imaging with Nucleai’s cutting-edge AI spatial models to derive new insights from tissue biopsies, including novel drug targets, mechanisms of action, and biomarkers to advance the field of precision medicine. The combined solutions will provide laboratories with an integrated end-to-end spatial biology workflow from automated, hyperplex sequential immunofluorescence staining and imaging to AI-enabled, state-of-the-art image processing, and data analytics. As part of the partnership, the companies also plan to develop predictive and prognostic spatial biomarker assays. “Our partnership with Nucleai is based on our shared vision to advance next-generation spatial multiplex immunofluorescence imaging to accelerate drug and biomarker discovery and development,” said Déborah Heintze, Chief Marketing Officer of Lunaphore. “Connecting Nucleai’s solution with COMET™, we have the potential to more precisely characterize the immune system and disease microenvironment to provide deeper biological insights to drug developers.” “Nucleai brings innovative spatial biology and machine learning platform (ATOM) to empower researchers with novel insights into drug discovery,” said Mridula Iyer, Ph.D., Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Nucleai. “The technology is designed to unlock and analyze valuable data from pathology slides previously inaccessible, leading to the development of new precise targeted therapy that is important for patient outcomes. This collaboration is another example of how both Lunaphore and Nucleai are accelerating efforts to partner with pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies, as well as medical research institutions and other biomedical organizations.” About COMET™ COMET™ is a fully automated sequential immunofluorescence instrument, able to perform hyperplex staining and imaging, producing high-quality data in a robust and reproducible manner. With superior tissue profiling capabilities, the system allows multiplex analysis of up to 40 different spatial markers per tissue slide without human intervention. COMET™ has a wide range of research applications, allowing for a dramatic improvement in the understanding of disease pathology in areas such as immuno-oncology, neuroscience, and infectious diseases. The technology has the ability to revolutionize clinical applications such as drug discovery and biomarker development. About Lunaphore Lunaphore Technologies S.A. is a Swiss company born in 2014 with the vision of enabling spatial biology in every laboratory. Lunaphore has developed a game-changing chip technology that can extract spatial proteomic and genomic data from tumors and transform any simple assay into multiplex spatial biology without complexity. Lunaphore empowers researchers to push the boundaries of research to ultimately develop the next generation personalized therapies. About Nucleai Nucleai is an AI-powered spatial biology company with a mission to transform drug development and clinical treatment decisions by unlocking the power of pathology data. Nucleai provides pharmaceutical companies, Contract Research Organizations, and diagnostics laboratories with a state-of-the-art AI platform to improve clinical trials and clinical decision-making.

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