Eurofins Discovery | November 04, 2020
Eurofins Discovery, the leading provider of services and products to the drug discovery industry, announced a new collaboration with Amphilix AG, a Swiss-based biotech company, to support a program aimed at identifying a treatment modulating key disease mechanisms. Amphilix AG will take advantage of Eurofins Discovery's DiscoveryOne™ offering, an integrated drug discovery platform providing expert support to progress programs to preclinical development and beyond. Amphilix will engage Eurofins Discovery to prosecute the biology, pharmacology, ADME, and safety pharmacology aspects of the program, working in collaboration with the accomplished team at Eurofins Discovery to progress to a development candidate. The two organizations expect this to be the first of multiple programs in which they collaborate to discover new treatments for unmet medical needs.
Harris-Stowe State University, United Health Foundation | November 20, 2021
The United Health Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), has awarded a $2 million, three-year grant to Harris-Stowe State University to create a bioinformatics program for undergraduate students at the historically Black university located in St. Louis. Bioinformatics is an emerging field that combines science, physics, math and biology to aid in the diagnosis, treatment and discovery of new therapeutic advancements. An example of bioinformatics is the use of computer analysis on the Human Genome Project, which has recorded the 3 billion basic pairs of the human DNA system.
HSSU will develop a new undergraduate program to train students for careers as bioinformatics professionals. HSSU will use the support to
Develop new curricula combining coursework and experiential learning opportunities.
Expose high school students in surrounding school districts to the field of bioinformatics through a summer bioinformatics “boot camp” program.
Offer academic scholarships for up to 25 students each year.
“In the past decade, Harris-Stowe State University has emerged as a leader in training students for high-tech careers. This new program will help us to build on that important work, as well as continue to fulfill our mission of serving historically underrepresented students. Bioinformatics is a rapidly growing field of study, and it is vital for all people to play a role in its advancement.”
Dr. LaTonia Collins Smith, interim president of HSSU
Studies have shown that there is a substantial gap in the number of diverse college students trained in biomedical sciences. Black, Hispanic and Native American people account for only 7.1% of the employed biological/biomedical and life sciences workforce, according to the National Science Foundation. A diverse health workforce helps provide personalized, culturally competent care to an increasingly diverse population.
“The United Health Foundation is honored to collaborate with Harris-Stowe State University to increase the diversity of the life sciences workforce. We are excited about HSSU training students who will make discoveries, develop therapies and advance health care for all,” said Patrick Quinn, CEO of UnitedHealthcare in Missouri, a UnitedHealth Group company. “This partnership illustrates UnitedHealth Group’s commitment to health equity and to building a diverse health workforce reflective of our society.”
The commitment in Missouri is one of many ways UnitedHealth Group is working to advance health equity by diversifying the health workforce of the future. The United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative, for example, partners with nine nonprofit and civic organizations and has provided over 3,000 scholarships to diverse students studying medicine and public health across the U.S. since 2007. Optum Technology, part of Optum which is a UnitedHealth Group company, offers a mentor-led STEM program that has provided science, technology, engineering and mathematics training to over 7,000 diverse and underrepresented students at 103 middle and high schools since 2019. To learn more about the company’s commitment to health equity as well as its efforts to build healthier communities, improve outcomes and create a modern, high-performing health care system.
About Harris-Stowe State University
For over 160 years, Harris-Stowe State University (HSSU) has served the historically underrepresented. As a Historically Black College and University, HSSU is strongly committed to providing a high-quality higher education experience that is both affordable and accessible to the diverse populations within and beyond the metropolitan St. Louis region. More than 90% of student population are racially and ethnically diverse and receive some form of financial aid.
About the United Health Foundation
Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, the United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. The United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, the United Health Foundation has committed more than $500 million to programs and communities around the world.
CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Phytolon; Ginkgo Bioworks | February 28, 2022
Phytolon, a growing startup company making natural food colorants, announced a partnership today with Ginkgo Bioworks the leading horizontal platform for cell programming, to produce vibrant cultured food colors via fermentation of yeast. Under this partnership, Phytolon is leveraging Ginkgo's ability to engineer biology at scale to work together on the production of vibrant betalain pigments, the healthy and colorful compounds found in foods like beets and cactus fruit. The project aims to take Phytolon's colors across the full 'yellow-to-purple' spectrum to the next level, and to potentially maximize the business opportunity of Phytolon's vibrant colors for applications in the food and cosmetics industries.
Scientists have developed hundreds of artificial food dyes by using the tools of synthetic chemistry to convert petrochemical sources into a wide range of colors. Biotechnology offers an opportunity to tap into the vibrant colors of biology to produce more sustainable, yet equally vibrant, colors. While artificial dyes are visually appealing and cheap to manufacture, many have been banned in food and feed due to health concerns. As consumers increasingly seek out more sustainable and nature-derived products, the food industry is working to find food colors that have equivalent pigment vibrancy to those found in synthetic chemical dyes but which come from biological rather than petrochemical sources.
Phytolon has developed a proprietary process for producing betalain pigments through precision fermentation of certain yeast strains. Together, Phytolon and Ginkgo are partnering with the goal of maximizing the production efficiency of purple and yellow betalain-producing strains.
"We're excited to work with Ginkgo to develop natural food colors that can potentially outperform conventional artificial dyes in cost and performance. We believe biotechnology makes it possible to produce a wider range of colors than ever before that may outperform current benchmark colorants, and we look forward to building products that may meet and even exceed consumer expectations for healthier, sustainable foods, all while aiming to maintain industry requirements for high quality and cost-efficiency."
Dr. Tal Zeltzer, Co-founder and CTO of Phytolon
"We love enabling growing startups like Phytolon through our platform, using biotechnology to challenge industry norms and attempt to build a fundamentally better product than what's on the market today," said Jennifer Wipf, Head of Commercial, Cell Engineering at Ginkgo Bioworks. "The planet needs new sustainable solutions, and we are excited to partner with Phytolon to support a more sustainable food system."
Phytolon is a biotechnology startup company that is taking food coloring to the next level by leveraging a novel technology for production of natural pigments via precision fermentation of yeast. Phytolon's products have been successfully validated by global leaders in the food industry, and Phyloton expects to enter into commercialization agreements with initial strategic partners in the near term. Phytolon is supported by partners such as The Trendlines Group Millennium Foodtech, EIT-Food, Consensus Business Group, Arkin Holdings and others.
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.