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.
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.
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.
Athersys, Inc. | September 26, 2022
Athersys, Inc. a regenerative medicine company developing MultiStem® for critical care indications, announced that it has entered into amended agreements to extend the exercise period of the warrants that were issued as part of a registered direct offering that closed on August 17, 2022, among other changes, and to issue additional warrants to the same warrant holder, a healthcare-focused U.S. institutional investor.
The Purchase Agreement contains certain restrictions that, subject to certain exceptions, prohibit the Company from issuing its common stock in certain variable rate transactions for a period of 180 days following the Closing Date. The Purchase Agreement also gives the Purchasers the right to participate in certain future offerings of the Company in an amount of up to 30 percent in the aggregate of any offered securities during the 12 months following the Closing Date.
On September 22, 2022, the Company entered into an amendment to the Purchase Agreement with the Purchasers to, among other things, (i) extend the exercise period of the Initial Warrants from five years to seven years after the six-month anniversary of the Closing Date (the “Warrant Amendment”), (ii) reduce the Standstill Period from 180 days to 150 days following the Closing Date, (iii) reduce the term and amount of the Participation Right from twelve months to six months following the Closing Date and from 30 percent to 20 percent in the aggregate of any offered securities, respectively, and (iv) require the Purchasers, subject to certain conditions, to participate in the event the Company proposes to offer and sell shares of offered securities during the six months following the Closing Date to investors primarily for capital raising purposes.
In return, Athersys issued to the same warrant holder additional warrants that are exercisable for an aggregate of 2,000,000 shares of common stock and have an exercise price of $6.3850 for a seven-year period after the six-month anniversary of the date of issuance.
A more detailed discussion of the amendments is contained in a Current Report that Athersys filed on September 22, 2022 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Form 8-K.
“We are pleased to have entered into this amendment with our new major investor which provides more financial flexibility going forward as well as a commitment for the investor that recently invested $12 million in Athersys to participate in future financings if requested. As Athersys continues to pursue licensing and other business development opportunities for our proprietary technology this amendment can help facilitate future transactions with financial and strategic investors. We are fortunate to have established a strong relationship with a prominent healthcare focused institutional investor that embraces the value of our MultiStem cell therapy and is responsive to our priorities,”
Dan Camardo, Chief Executive Officer of Athersys
“I am also pleased with progress we’ve made in our business transformation and I look forward to updating shareholders during a conference call to be held the week of October 3rd,” he added.
Athersys intends to issue a separate news release that will provide further information on the date and time of the call, as well as instructions regarding how to participate.
MultiStem® cell therapy is a patented regenerative medicine product in clinical development that has shown the ability to promote tissue repair and healing in a variety of ways, such as through the production of therapeutic factors in response to signals of inflammation and tissue damage. MultiStem therapy’s potential for multidimensional therapeutic impact distinguishes it from traditional biopharmaceutical therapies focused on a single mechanism of benefit. The therapy represents a unique “off-the-shelf” stem cell product that can be manufactured in a scalable manner, may be stored for years in frozen form, and is administered without tissue matching or the need for immune suppression. Based upon its efficacy profile, its novel mechanisms of action, and a favorable and consistent tolerability demonstrated in clinical studies, we believe that MultiStem therapy could provide a meaningful benefit to patients, including those suffering from serious diseases and conditions with unmet medical need.
Athersys is a biotechnology company engaged in the discovery and development of therapeutic product candidates designed to extend and enhance the quality of human life. The Company is developing its MultiStem® cell therapy product, a patented, adult-derived “off-the-shelf” stem cell product, initially for disease indications in the neurological, inflammatory and immune, and other critical care indications and has several ongoing clinical trials evaluating this potential regenerative medicine product. Athersys has forged strategic partnerships and a broad network of collaborations to further advance MultiStem cell therapy toward commercialization.
Ginkgo Bioworks | October 20, 2022
Today, Ginkgo Bioworks the leading horizontal platform for cell programming, and Zymergen announced that Ginkgo has completed its previously announced acquisition of Zymergen. The acquisition is expected to significantly enhance Ginkgo's platform by integrating strong automation and software capabilities as well as a wealth of experience across diverse biological engineering approaches.
"Today marks an important step in our long-term growth as we complete the Zymergen acquisition and welcome their world-class team to Ginkgo. We are excited to integrate Zymergen's capabilities into our platform and explore new and expanded partnerships and opportunities for their diverse array of product concepts currently under development."
Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks
Under the terms of the merger agreement entered into on July 24, 2022, Zymergen stockholders received, for each share of Zymergen common stock, 0.9179 shares of Ginkgo Class A common stock. Zymergen shares will no longer be traded on Nasdaq. Ginkgo Class A common stock will continue to trade on NYSE under the ticker symbol DNA.
About Ginkgo Bioworks
Ginkgo is building a platform to enable customers to program cells as easily as we can program computers. The company's platform is enabling biotechnology applications across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to industrial chemicals to pharmaceuticals. Ginkgo has also actively supported a number of COVID-19 response efforts, including K-12 pooled testing, vaccine manufacturing optimization and therapeutics discovery.
Zymergen is a biotech company that designs and produces molecules, microbes and materials for diverse end markets. Zymergen partners with nature to make better products, a better way, for a better world.