CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Merck | November 11, 2020
Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced that it, through its subsidiary Ares Trading S.A., has entered into an out-licensing agreement with biotechnology company Vera Therapeutics, South San Francisco, USA, for the further development of investigational therapy atacicept. Vera Therapeutics will first prioritize to take atacicept into a Phase IIb study in IgA nephropathy (IgAN), an autoimmune kidney disease also known as "Berger's disease". "The positive results from our Phase IIa study in IgA nephropathy reinforce the potential of this compound, and we are pleased to see Vera Therapeutics take it into the next phase of development," says Andreas Stickler, Chief Financial Officer and Head of Strategy, Business Development and Portfolio Management of the healthcare business sector of Merck. "This agreement shows how we are executing on our strategy to focus on our priority assets and areas of expertise, while underscoring our commitment to ensure promising molecules from our immunology pipeline have the opportunity to make it to patients as quickly as possible." Atacicept is a recombinant fusion protein that contains the soluble TACI receptor that binds to the cytokines BLyS and APRIL. These cytokines are members of the tumor necrosis factor family that promote B-cell survival and autoantibody production associated with certain autoimmune diseases such as IgAN. IgAN is one of the most common kidney diseases worldwide, with a remaining high unmet medical need for efficacious new medications to treat the disease.
Flamingo Therapeutics, Inc. | September 09, 2021
Flamingo Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company pioneering RNA-targeting therapies in oncology, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Ionis Pharmaceuticals to develop RNA-targeted therapies to treat various forms of cancer. This alliance is an expansion of an existing collaboration with Ionis on the FLAME™ discovery engine, following Flamingo's Series A financing in 2020.
The agreement and discovery alliance will leverage Flamingo's deep expertise in oncology and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in combination with Ionis' expertise in RNA-targeted drug discovery and development to advance candidates against targets considered undruggable with traditional approaches. Flamingo's pipeline will include three clinical-stage programs from Ionis, inhibitors of STAT-3, Androgen Receptor (AR) and IRF4, and one preclinical-stage program that targets MALAT1, a well-characterized lncRNA target. Flamingo will also advance its proprietary discovery engine, FLAME (Flamingo LncRNA Antisense Mining Engine), that addresses lncRNAs, a large and untapped class of disease-causing targets within the dark matter of the human genome.
"We're thrilled to strengthen our relationship with Ionis who has been at the forefront of RNA-targeted therapy for thirty years," said Michael Garrett, Chief Executive Officer of Flamingo. "We believe the combination of Ionis' leadership in RNA and our cutting-edge lncRNA discovery engine will expand the opportunities for applying RNA-targeted approaches to oncology."
"We are pleased that Flamingo is leveraging their core strengths in developing novel cancer medicines to advance innovative Ionis-discovered oncology therapies where there is an unmet need," said Brett P. Monia, Ph.D., Ionis' chief executive officer.
In connection with the alliance, Rob MacLeod, Ph.D., VP, Oncology Research & Development of Ionis, will serve as Chief Scientific Officer of Flamingo. Under the terms of the agreement, Ionis is eligible to receive milestone payments and royalties on future product sales of the STAT3, AR, IRF4 and MALAT1 programs. Flamingo retains full rights to its FLAME platform and all lncRNA programs outside of MALAT1.
Flamingo Therapeutics was founded by VIB, Ghent University, KU Leuven, the University of Michigan, Kurma Partners and PMV, based on pioneering work led by Professor Jean-Christophe Marine (VIB-KU Leuven), Professor Pieter Mestdagh (Ghent University) and Professor Arul Chinnaiyan (University of Michigan). These scientific teams broke new ground on non-coding RNA genes in cancer and were among the first to show a role for lncRNAs as disease drivers in oncology.
About Flamingo Therapeutics
Flamingo is pioneering RNA-targeted therapies for oncology with state-of-the art chemistries. Flamingo has the most advanced antisense RNA-targeting oncology portfolio with three clinical programs targeting undruggable transcription factors and splice variants. To support and expand its pipeline, Flamingo has a proprietary discovery engine, FLAME™ (Flamingo LncRNA Antisense Mining Engine), that addresses lncRNAs, a large and untapped class of disease-causing targets within the "dark matter" of the human genome. The Company was founded in 2020 based on pioneering work in the field of lncRNAs in oncology with our academic partners at VIB, KU Leuven, Ghent University and the University of Michigan. Flamingo has a discovery alliance with Ionis Pharmaceuticals and is supported by well-known biotechnology investors Kurma Partners and PMV. The company is headquartered in Belgium with additional operations in San Diego, CA.
TurtleTree | October 04, 2021
TurtleTree has officially opened its new R&D facility in California's state capital. Located in West Sacramento, this 24,000-square-foot building will house a world-class research hub showcasing the company's extensive array of innovations and cell-based technologies.
Representing a milestone in TurtleTree's US-based expansion plans, the research facility will spur the development of precision fermentation technology currently used to produce valuable milk ingredients like lactoferrin. This marks a significant stride towards the production of consumer-ready milk and dairy, reaffirming TurtleTree's status as a leading player in the field of sustainable nutrition.
In addition to improving these capabilities, the establishment of this groundbreaking facility will also further TurtleTree's mission of uplifting the world beyond the creation of sustainable food. To adequately staff the facility, the company will create approximately 40 new tech-related jobs in and around Greater Sacramento. These will span diverse fields from food science to engineering, yielding fresh opportunities for seasoned professionals and fresh graduates alike.
Referencing this positive impact, TurtleTree's CEO and co-founder, Fengru Lin, stated: "Establishing this R&D facility in Greater Sacramento marks the first step towards bringing our unique products from development to market—one that we're very glad will help unlock new opportunities within the local community. We're eagerly looking forward to working with the brilliant talent in the area and building a future generation of nutrition that we can all enjoy for decades to come."
Echoing similar sentiments, various West Sacramento representatives have also offered their support for the new facility. President and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, Barry Broome, stated: "We want to congratulate TurtleTree for locating their R&D and manufacturing facility in West Sacramento. This move signals market validation of why Greater Sacramento is world-class in biotech, specifically alternative proteins research."
West Sacramento is honored to have been chosen by TurtleTree as the location for their much-anticipated research facility. The city looks forward to assisting the TurtleTree leadership to achieve their goals, with respect to the facility, through an accelerated occupancy permit process, TurtleTree is making significant contributions to a sustainable, global food supply and is also creating opportunities to prepare future generations to continue this important scientific work through our student internship program, which will be of great benefit to the city's youth.
-West Sacramento mayor, Martha Guerrero
Moving forward, TurtleTree remains committed to its role in developing the food and agriculture ecosystem in Northern California. Aside from functioning as a research hub, the R&D facility will also serve as an integral touchpoint for TurtleTree to connect and collaborate with educational institutions, research-focused partners, strategic partners, future customers, and investors.
TurtleTree is a biotech company that's using cell-based technologies to create sustainable food and dairy. In spite of this, we earnestly believe that what we do extends beyond the dining table and into the heart of humanity. At our core, we seek to uplift the world by providing a new generation of nutrition that's better for the planet, better for the animals, and better for people everywhere.
About the Greater Sacramento Economic Council (GSEC)
The Greater Sacramento Economic Council is the catalyst for innovative growth strategies in the Capital Region of California. The organization spearheads community-led direction to retain, attract, grow, and scale tradable sectors, develop advanced industries, and create jobs and investment throughout a six-county region. Greater Sacramento represents a collaboration between local and state governments, market leaders, influencers, and stakeholders, with the sole mission of driving inclusive economic growth. The Greater Sacramento region was founded on discovery, built on leadership, and fueled by innovation.
About the City of West Sacramento
West Sacramento is located minutes from the state capital, midway between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, in the heart of California's Great Central Valley. West Sacramento has abundant land, high-quality water, and nearby agricultural production combined with market access and proximity to the world-renowned food and agricultural research of U.C. Davis. Over 60 companies in food and ag-tech research, production, and distribution have established West Sacramento's Global Food Industry Hub, including Origin Materials, TOMRA Sorting Solutions, NuSeed Americas, Nor-Cal Beverage, Bayer Crop Science, and Nippon Shokken U.S.A.