CELL AND GENE THERAPY

GenScript and Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology Collaborate on Groundbreaking Non-Viral Cell Therapy Study

Genscript Biotech Corporation | September 23, 2022 | Read time : 03:00 min

GenScript and Gladstone
GenScript USA Inc., the world's leading life-science research tools and services provider, is collaborating with researchers at the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology to advance the development of new, non-viral cell therapies that modify genomic sequences in the pursuit of more effective cell therapy products while limiting the cellular toxicity that is typically associated with previously available methods.

A new study, published in Nature Biotechnology, details methods for achieving highly efficient non-viral knock-in using GenScript's GenExact™ single-strand DNA  modified with Cas9-target sequences. This method achieved up to ˜40% knock-in efficiency in primary immune cell types.

One powerful application of CRISPR/Cas genome editing technology involves the precise insertion of DNA sequences via the HDR pathway. Traditionally, researchers have relied on viral vectors to deliver DNA insertion templates used for gene therapy into cells. However, difficulties manufacturing large amounts of clinical-grade viral vectors have delayed getting cell therapies to patients. Additionally, viral vectors can insert genes at any location within the genome, leading to safety concerns.

Previous research by the group at Gladstone and UCSF has shown that synthetic DNA templates can be delivered without the use of viral vectors, but high levels of double-stranded DNA can be toxic to cells, resulting in low efficiency. Efficiency can be improved using a modified version of the DNA templates that can bind to the Cas9 enzyme. However, additional work was required to improve the yield of successfully engineered cells and to make the process compatible with the manufacturing of future cell therapies. Those goals motivated the team's current study.

In this study, the team tested modified GenExact ssDNA designed with Cas9-targeted sequences to determine if the gene-editing efficiency could be improved with lower toxicity. First, synthetic sgRNA was complexed with Cas9 protein to form a RNP complex. Then the RNP and ssDNA template were delivered into the cell via electroporation, enabling efficient gene editing.

The team discovered that this combination of GenExact ssDNA with Cas9-targeted sequence offers up to 40% knock-in editing efficiency with minimal cellular toxicity. This approach can accelerate the development and manufacture of novel, high-yield non-viral gene therapies — and at lower cost.

"We are very proud to have collaborated on this groundbreaking scale-up work by the talented team at Gladstone and UCSF. GenScript is excited for the opportunities that this high-yield cell-line engineering process will provide to our customers," said Ray Chen, Ph.D, president of GenScript Life Science Group.

"We were very happy to partner with Genscript on critical experiments demonstrating high efficiency and yield of CAR knock-in cells at clinical scale. The long ssDNA produced by Genscript exceeded our expectations and helped us clearly demonstrate the potential for future therapeutic applications using these methods.",

Brian Shy, MD, PhD, a former clinical fellow in the lab of Alex Marson, MD, PhD, director of the Gladstone-UCSF Institute of Genomic Immunology

About GenScript Biotech Corporation
GenScript Biotech Corporation is a global biotechnology group. Based on its leading gene synthesis technology, GenScript has developed four major platforms including the global cell therapy platform, the biologics contract development and manufacturing organization platform, the contract research organization platform, and the industrial synthesis product platform.

GenScript was founded in New Jersey, USA in 2002 and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2015. GenScript's business operation spans over 100 countries and regions worldwide, with legal entities located in the USA, mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Ireland. GenScript has provided premium, convenient, and reliable products and services for over 100,000 customers.


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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Heska to Acquire LightDeck Diagnostics to Invest in Manufacturing Capabilities and Accelerate Research and Development Efforts

LightDeck Diagnostics and Heska | September 13, 2022

Heska Corporation a leading global provider of advanced veterinary diagnostic and specialty solutions, announced today that the Company has entered a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of the share capital of MBio Diagnostics, Inc. d/b/a LightDeck Diagnostics a pioneer in innovative planar waveguide fluorescence immunoassay diagnostics with strong manufacturing and specialized production capabilities. Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, LightDeck has developed a scalable and innovative platform for rapid and accurate point of care diagnostics. LightDeck's 80-member team includes industry veterans, engineers, and scientists, with deep technical expertise in assay development, manufacturing, and software development, who have collaborated with commercial, academic, and government partners worldwide to build an extensive intellectual property portfolio of 16 US patents and 15 international patents with broad applications, including in veterinary diagnostics, water testing, and human in-vitro diagnostics use. LightDeck's planar waveguide technology optimizes laser activated fluorescence and microfluidics to provide point of care cartridge-based testing without compromise, enabling reference lab-quality results in minutes with inexpensive, quantitative, and easy-to-use functionality. LightDeck's current Boulder location includes fully equipped laboratories for assay development and controlled manufacturing capabilities that support its new, state-of-the-art, highly automated facility in Longmont, Colorado, anticipated to go online in 2023 to dramatically scale-up capacity, production, and research and development. "We are thrilled to welcome the entire LightDeck team to Heska. We have known and closely followed their success for years and we are happy to fully join with them today as one team focused on supercharging their great work. LightDeck brings to Heska best-in-breed, highly scalable manufacturing and world-class assay development to help drive our strategies for winning at innovation and winning at scale," commented Kevin Wilson, Heska's Chief Executive Officer and President. "LightDeck was central in developing Heska's leading immunodiagnostic platform, Element i+®, including its current menu of Total T4, cTSH, Cortisol, and Progesterone. Having proven our capability, we now take this next important step as we aim to drive production of Element i+® analyzers and cartridges at scale and to accelerate key test menu expansion, such as our recently announced Nu.Q® Vet Cancer Screen, cCRP, SDMA, infectious diseases, and more, in single and multi-plex formats that are substantially better than the competition. We expect to drive gross margin improvement with new manufacturing capabilities and scaling across the business. The addition of LightDeck is a great strategic, financial, and cultural fit with Heska as we continue our march to the top of the innovation and manufacturing competition for the most valuable diagnostics," concluded Mr. Wilson. "This is a terrific outcome for LightDeck and Heska and their shareholders, employees and commercial partners. We have known and worked with Heska for years and we greatly admire the Heska organization. Since its founding in 2009, LightDeck has been dedicated to revolutionizing testing at the point of care- for faster, more accurate, less expensive, multi-plex testing of the most important diagnostic tests. We have developed one of the most innovative and technologically-advanced assay platforms in the world, which has led to our recent addition to Fast Company's Annual List of the World's 50 Most Innovative Companies for 2022. I am very proud of the work our team has accomplished over the last 13 years." LightDeck's Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Mike Lochhead, went on to say, "We are excited to now enter this next phase with Heska to dramatically expand our reach and scale. What we do at LightDeck matters a great deal. With Heska, we go confidently into our next commercial, manufacturing, and development chapters, strongly engaged, highly supported, and clearly set-up for long-term success and growth." Nick Traggis, LightDeck's Chief Executive Officer About Heska Heska Corporation manufactures, develops and sells advanced veterinary diagnostics, informatics, and specialty healthcare solutions through its two business segments: North America and International. Both segments include Point of Care Lab testing instruments and consumables, digital imaging products, software and services, data services, allergy testing and immunotherapy, and single-use offerings such as in-clinic diagnostic tests and heartworm preventive products. The North America segment also includes private label vaccine and pharmaceutical production for third-parties, primarily for herd animal health. About LightDeck Diagnostics LightDeck Diagnostics believes in a new approach to healthcare, where quick and accurate diagnostic tests will be run wherever and whenever they are needed. The company's proprietary LightDeck® platform combines an advanced laser waveguide with novel materials and patented manufacturing techniques to deliver lab-quality results anywhere, in minutes. The LightDeck platform is achieving success in veterinary diagnostics and for environmental testing. LightDeck is also developing a portfolio of in vitro diagnostic panels. The company is based in Boulder, Colorado, and is recognized as Colorado BioScience Association's Company of the Year, 2021.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Q² Solutions Launches Innovative Self-Collection Safety Lab Panel in Collaboration With Tasso

Q² Solutions and IQVIA, Tasso | October 07, 2022

Q² Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of IQVIA and a leading global clinical trial laboratory services organization, today announced the launch of the first self-collection safety lab panel for U.S. clinical trial participants by a leading global clinical trial laboratory. Developed in collaboration with Tasso Inc, a leader in clinical-grade blood collection solutions, this unique offering combines industry leading laboratory services, patient focused logistics and cutting-edge, self-collection technology. Participants in clinical trials can now provide a blood specimen for lab testing in the comfort of their own home, without the need to visit an investigator site or have a healthcare professional visit them. The first test panel available through this collaboration is designed to help monitor liver function by measuring the levels of select enzymes and proteins in the blood. The panel includes tests for ALT AST ALP total bilirubin, direct bilirubin, total protein, and albumin. “The global pandemic has accelerated the use of decentralized approaches in clinical trials. We at Q² Solutions are highly motivated to find ways to reduce patient burden related to laboratory testing, and I’m delighted that, through our collaboration with Tasso, we could make the self-collection liver panel a reality. Soon we will launch more than a dozen safety tests, and we are determined to continue to expand our catalog of tests available via the self-collection of blood.” Brian O’Dwyer, CEO of Q² Solutions “We are thrilled to be working with a leader like Q² Solutions on this important initiative to make laboratory testing truly patient-centric,” said Erwin Berthier, PhD, CTO and Co-Founder of Tasso. “Our clinical-grade remote sampling technology enables decentralized laboratory testing without sacrificing sample quality, a key hurdle that home testing has faced in the past. Together, Q² Solutions and Tasso are developing important solutions that make clinical trials better for both patients and sponsors.” This self-collection liver panel was developed with trial participants at the heart of the design. The offering includes easy to use at-home self-collection kits with instructions and videos, a methodology for direct-to-patient delivery, as well as simplified specimen processing and shipping requirements. About Q² Solutions Q² Solutions is a leading global clinical trial laboratory services organization that provides comprehensive testing, project management, supply chain, biorepository, biospecimen, and consent tracking solutions. Leveraging our next generation technologies, we deliver agile and precise services designed to meet the diverse needs of our clients. We provide scientific expertise and innovative solutions for ADME, bioanalytical, genomics, vaccines, and central laboratory services, including flow cytometry, anatomic pathology, immunoassay, molecular, companion diagnostics and translational science, with meticulous regional and global clinical trial implementation support and high-quality data delivery. At Q² Solutions, our work is rooted in research, grounded in collaboration, and guided by our passion to turn the hope of patients and caregivers around the world into the help they need. About IQVIA IQVIA is a leading global provider of advanced analytics, technology solutions, and clinical research services to the life sciences industry. IQVIA creates intelligent connections across all aspects of healthcare through its analytics, transformative technology, big data resources and extensive domain expertise. IQVIA Connected Intelligence™ delivers powerful insights with speed and agility — enabling customers to accelerate the clinical development and commercialization of innovative medical treatments that improve healthcare outcomes for patients. With approximately 82,000 employees, IQVIA conducts operations in more than 100 countries. IQVIA is a global leader in protecting individual patient privacy. The company uses a wide variety of privacy-enhancing technologies and safeguards to protect individual privacy while generating and analyzing information on a scale that helps healthcare stakeholders identify disease patterns and correlate with the precise treatment path and therapy needed for better outcomes. IQVIA’s insights and execution capabilities help biotech, medical device and pharmaceutical companies, medical researchers, government agencies, payers and other healthcare stakeholders tap into a deeper understanding of diseases, human behaviors and scientific advances, in an effort to advance their path toward cures. About Tasso Trusted diagnostics made easy. Tasso is an emerging healthcare technology company that is transforming the traditional blood collection paradigm with a patient-centric approach. The company’s devices enable simple, convenient, and virtually painless blood collection for users. Tasso technology has the power to bring healthcare anywhere, any time. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Tasso is privately held and funded by grants, investments, and co-development deals with various industry leaders.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Eiger BioPharmaceuticals Provides Update on Plans for Emergency Use Authorization Application Following FDA Feedback

Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, Inc. | October 06, 2022

Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, Inc. a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative therapies for hepatitis delta virus and other serious diseases, today announced that, following feedback from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the company will not submit an emergency use authorization application of peginterferon lambda for the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19. Following Eiger's press release on September 6, 2022, the company submitted a pre-EUA meeting request to FDA, as well as additional morbidity and mortality outcomes data and analyses from the investigator-sponsored TOGETHER study. This included further statistical modeling and efficacy analyses of the study's primary and secondary endpoints and long-term follow-up data that the company believes continue to support the initial positive topline outcomes reported in March. In response, FDA denied the request for a pre-EUA meeting. Citing its concerns about the conduct of the TOGETHER study, FDA concluded that any authorization request based on these data is unlikely to meet the statutory criteria for issuance of an EUA in the current context of the pandemic. FDA suggested that, given peginterferon lambda's mechanism of action and the ongoing need for improved COVID-19 therapeutics, Eiger consider requesting an end-of-Phase 2 meeting to discuss a company-sponsored pivotal trial that could support an eventual Biologics License Application. Eiger is evaluating next steps for this program, in the U.S., as well as ex-U.S. emergency use authorization pathways and strategic options for continued development of peginterferon lambda for COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections. "While we are disappointed that FDA will not consider an EUA application based on results generated from the TOGETHER study, we continue to have strong conviction in the potential of peginterferon lambda to confer a meaningful benefit for patients with COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections. COVID-19 related deaths remain alarmingly high around the globe, including in the U.S. where, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 400 people die every day from this disease." David Cory, President and CEO, Eiger Eiger is advancing a late-stage pipeline of multiple FDA Breakthrough Therapy designated programs in Phase 3, including lonafarnib and peginterferon lambda for hepatitis delta virus (HDV) infection, and avexitide for congenital hyperinsulinism. The company expects to report topline data from D-LIVR, Eiger's landmark Phase 3 study of lonafarnib-based regimens for HDV, by year end. About TOGETHER Study TOGETHER is an independent multi-center, investigator-sponsored, randomized, placebo-controlled adaptive platform Phase 3 study evaluating therapeutics in newly diagnosed, high-risk, non-hospitalized patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19. TOGETHER is the largest placebo-controlled study in COVID-19 and has evaluated 11 different therapeutic agents for non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The study was ongoing at the time the peginterferon lambda arm was added. The evaluation of peginterferon lambda versus placebo was the second largest study to date of a COVID-19 therapeutic of > 1,900 patients. Eligibility criteria required that all patients had laboratory-confirmed mild or moderate COVID-19 and were randomized within seven days of symptom onset. The study enrolled patients regardless of vaccination status or variant strain of SARS-CoV-2. The primary endpoint was a reduction in risk of clinical outcome comparing hospitalizations or emergency room visits greater than six hours after a single subcutaneous injection of peginterferon lambda versus placebo through Day 28. A key secondary endpoint was reduction in risk of hospitalizations or death in patients when dosed within three days of symptom onset. The TOGETHER study recruited from 12 sites in Brazil and 5 sites in Canada. About Peginterferon Lambda Peginterferon lambda is an investigational late-stage, first-in-class, type III interferon that stimulates immune responses that are critical for the development of host protection during viral infections and has been well-tolerated in clinical studies. Eiger is developing peginterferon lambda for the treatment of HDV infection. Peginterferon lambda has been administered to over 4,000 subjects in 28 clinical trials of HBV, HCV, HDV and COVID-19. Peginterferon lambda is an investigational agent and not yet approved for any indication. Eiger has received Orphan Designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency, and Fast Track and Breakthrough Therapy Designation by FDA for peginterferon lambda in HDV. About Eiger Eiger is a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative therapies for hepatitis delta virus (HDV) and other serious diseases. The Eiger HDV platform includes two first-in-class therapies in Phase 3 that target critical host processes involved in viral replication.

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