High school students publish paper with RIT scientists analyzing rare bacterium

eurekalert | April 25, 2019

Three high school students working in a science lab for the first time made a surprising discovery with a Rochester Institute of Technology professor. Now, the young women are co-authors on a scientific paper announcing a rare bacterium that kills e-coli. Atlantis Aziz-Dickerson, Joyceline Dweh and D'Asia Buchanan--seniors at Uncommon Schools' Rochester Prep High School--isolated, identified and genetically sequenced the genome of a Yimella bacterium in the RIT Genomics Lab with faculty mentor André Hudson, head of RIT's Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences. The species of Yimella produces antibiotic compounds that inhibit at least two kinds of bacteria, Escherichia and Bacillus, both of which contain species pathogenic to humans.

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Cellsafe Biotech Group is a high-tech biotech venture licensed by the Malaysian Ministry of Health to provide cord blood stem cell storage services for your child. As one of the fastest growing cord blood banking companies in Malaysia, Cellsafe is also an established technological leader in this rapidly evolving field.

Spotlight

Cellsafe Biotech Group is a high-tech biotech venture licensed by the Malaysian Ministry of Health to provide cord blood stem cell storage services for your child. As one of the fastest growing cord blood banking companies in Malaysia, Cellsafe is also an established technological leader in this rapidly evolving field.

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DIAGNOSTICS

Phenomix Sciences Announces First Obesity Biobanking Registry and Outcomes Study for Precision Nutrition and Obesity

Phenomix Sciences | May 27, 2022

Phenomix Sciences (Phenomix), a precision biotechnology company bringing data intelligence to the treatment of obesity, announces today the launch of its biobanking registry and outcome study. The registry will study variability in obesity by looking at patients' DNA, metabolomics, hormones, patient behavior, assessments, and treatment outcomes. The data collected will supplement the 20 billion unique data points that make up the Phenomix Sciences Obesity Platform. Mayo Clinic is the first to enroll in the registry with its Rochester site set to contribute patient outcomes from 2,000 patients undergoing treatment for obesity to its biobank. The biobanking registry is a critical milestone in Phenomix's mission to conquer obesity by creating unprecedented access to its clinical and molecular information throughout all stages and phenotypes of the disease. Outcomes data generated from the biobanks across the registry will supplement Phenomix's database of biological and clinical data matched to the four obesity phenotypes. Insights generated from the database are being used to develop more predictive tests to identify the right intervention for each patient with obesity. This will allow for a better understanding of variability in patient outcomes when undergoing obesity treatments. Despite the justifiable excitement about new weight management products such as semaglutide and tirzepatide, several clinical studies from Phenomix's founders indicate that patient response varies with underlying phenotype. Thus, for many patients, it will open the door to the most effective and appropriate intervention for their unique phenotype. A growing body of evidence indicates that obesity is not a single disease with a single treatment type, but a constellation of diseases. Obesity's roots lie in individual DNA; however, evidence suggests there is a complicated web connecting obesity to age, race, and gender, education, and socioeconomic status. Understanding a person's obesity phenotype — the combination of genes with environmental and behavioral factors — can help pinpoint the cause of weight gain. Phenomix's phenotypes are based on research from its physician founders, Andres Acosta, MD, PhD and Michael Camilleri, MD of Mayo Clinic, that has demonstrated when patients have been phenotyped and prescribed the right medications, they can achieve up to 16 percent total body weight loss (TBWL). In addition to creating the first biobanking registry of this type, this is the first large scale study to monitor phenotypes in patients with obesity being treated with a variety of treatments. The impact of this biobanking registry and the data it will yield has the potential to change the entire system's approach to obesity, from a treatment recommendation to the way payers determine coverage and how industry combines diagnostics testing with drug therapy. This unique biobanking registry will provide critical and contemporary data on obesity outcomes, impacting every stakeholder in the episode of care, This registry is an important opportunity to make vast strides in how we understand the complexities of obesity treatment. All obesity programs should be seeking the opportunity to participate and contribute to this registry. The more data we have on the variables that contribute to an individual's obesity diagnosis, the more lives we can save by putting the best treatment plan forward. We believe the investment in the biobanking registry will better support obesity centers by providing concrete evidence and insight into how DNA and other factors need to be considered in treatment. Patients can benefit greatly from achieving the desired outcome the first time around, and payers avoid paying for trial-and-error approaches and can reduce overall co-morbid conditions for members." Mark Bagnall, CEO of Phenomix Sciences. About Phenomix Sciences Phenomix Sciences is a biotechnology pioneer on a mission to conquer obesity globally through the science of phenotyping, the understanding of how genes combined with environmental and behavioral factors can inform obesity treatment plans. Mayo Clinic physicians, scientists, and researchers, Andres Acosta, MD, and Michael Camilleri, MD, founded the company under the belief that the key to understanding obesity is unprecedented access to its clinical and molecular information throughout all stages and phenotypes of the disease. Phenomix leverages data intelligence for yielding better accuracy in predicting individual patient response to specific weight loss interventions and reducing the variability in weight loss results for patients.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Merck and Orna Therapeutics Collaborate to Advance Orna’s Next Generation of RNA Technology

Merck and Orna Therapeutics | August 17, 2022

Merck known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Orna Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering a new investigational class of engineered circular RNA therapies, today announced a collaboration agreement to discover, develop, and commercialize multiple programs, including vaccines and therapeutics in the areas of infectious disease and oncology. Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will make an upfront payment to Orna of $150 million, which will be expensed by Merck in the third quarter of 2022 and included in non-GAAP results. In addition, Orna will be eligible to receive up to $3.5 billion in development, regulatory, and sales milestones associated with the progress of the multiple vaccine and therapeutic programs, as well as royalties on any approved products derived from the collaboration. Orna will retain rights to its oRNA-LNP technology platform and will continue to advance other wholly owned programs in areas such as oncology and genetic disease. Merck will also invest $100 million of equity in Orna’s recently completed Series B financing round. Orna’s proprietary oRNA technology creates circular RNAs from linear RNAs by self-circularization. oRNA molecules have been shown to have greater stability in vivo than linear mRNA and have the potential to produce larger quantities of therapeutic proteins inside the body. Newly synthesized oRNA molecules are more compactly packaged into custom lipid nanoparticles which Orna has engineered to target key tissues in the body. Preclinical data, including presentations at the 2022 American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy Annual Meeting, have demonstrated the potential of oRNA expression and delivery as an approach for further development in multiple areas, including vaccines and oncology therapeutics. “This broad strategic collaboration brings together Merck’s significant expertise in nucleic acid biology, clinical development, and manufacturing with Orna’s compelling circular RNA technology to explore the opportunity to develop a new generation of potential vaccines and therapeutics. We look forward to working with the talented scientific and technical teams at Orna." Fiona Marshall, senior vice president and head of discovery, preclinical and translational medicine at Merck Research Laboratories “We are thrilled to collaborate with Merck, a company committed to breakthrough science, which has recognized the potential our platform can bring to patients. Our oRNA technology plus novel delivery solutions are designed to unlock the full potential of RNA in therapeutics and vaccines,” said Tom Barnes, Chief Executive Officer of Orna. “The combined expertise of Orna and Merck aims to accelerate the development of RNA therapeutics for patients in need of better treatment options.” About Merck At Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, we are unified around our purpose: We use the power of leading-edge science to save and improve lives around the world. For more than 130 years, we have brought hope to humanity through the development of important medicines and vaccines. We aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world – and today, we are at the forefront of research to deliver innovative health solutions that advance the prevention and treatment of diseases in people and animals. We foster a diverse and inclusive global workforce and operate responsibly every day to enable a safe, sustainable and healthy future for all people and communities. About Orna Therapeutics Orna Therapeutics was founded on groundbreaking research by Alex Wesselhoeft, Ph.D., and Daniel G. Anderson, Ph.D. from MIT and built by MPM Capital and BioImpact Capital, an investment management affiliate of MPM. Orna’s proprietary circular RNA (oRNA) is engineered as linear RNA that self-circularizes. By taking a line and turning it into a circle, oRNA exhibits numerous advantages over traditional linear mRNA therapies such as simplified production, increased protein expression, and a superior immunogenicity profile. With proprietary lipid nanoparticles including those from Orna’s joint venture with ReNAgade Therapeutics, an RNA delivery company, our technologies expand the possibilities of what RNA therapeutics can achieve.

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DIAGNOSTICS

GRAIL Announces Strategic Collaboration With AstraZeneca to Develop Companion Diagnostic Tests to Enable the Treatment of Early-Stage Cancer

GRAIL | June 06, 2022

GRAIL, LLC, a healthcare company whose mission is to detect cancer early when it can be cured, today announced a broad strategic collaboration with AstraZeneca (LSE/STO/Nasdaq: AZN) to develop and commercialize companion diagnostic (CDx) assays for use with AstraZeneca’s therapies. The collaboration will initially focus on developing companion diagnostic tests to identify patients with high-risk, early-stage disease, with plans to embark on numerous studies across multiple indications over the next several years. The parties are additionally planning to use GRAIL’s technology to enable recruitment of patients with early-stage cancer for AstraZeneca’s clinical studies. GRAIL has developed a novel approach to detect cancer signals in blood, regardless of whether or not the patient has clinical symptoms. We are excited to embark on this work with AstraZeneca to transform cancer outcomes through a broad, strategic collaboration, Through our collaboration, we hope to provide critical information to improve the identification of patients who may be eligible for clinical trials and change clinical paradigms for the treatment of early-stage cancers." Sir Harpal Kumar, President, Biopharma Business and Europe at GRAIL. Across the projects within this collaboration, GRAIL will use its methylation platform to perform testing for patients enrolled in AstraZeneca’s clinical trials. GRAIL will seek regulatory approval in key markets for the liquid biopsy companion diagnostics. Identifying and treating cancer early is at the heart of this strategic collaboration. Combining GRAIL’s innovative blood-based methylation profiling platform with AstraZeneca’s leadership in Oncology, we hope to accelerate the adoption of circulating tumor DNA across clinical trials and make our cancer medicines available at an earlier stage of disease when there is greater potential to transform patient outcomes, and even cure.” Susan Galbraith, Executive Vice President of Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca. GRAIL is developing its proprietary methylation platform for use in multiple post-diagnostic settings to identify patients at high risk of future cancer recurrence, detect the presence or absence of residual disease, and to inform treatment decisions, including identifying patients with cancer who may be eligible for neoadjuvant or adjuvant therapy. GRAIL’s technology platform is designed to optimize circulating tumor DNA testing to enable detection of early stage disease and minimal residual disease (MRD). About GRAIL GRAIL is a healthcare company whose mission is to detect cancer early, when it can be cured. GRAIL is focused on alleviating the global burden of cancer by developing pioneering technology to detect and identify multiple deadly cancer types early. The company is using the power of next-generation sequencing, population-scale clinical studies, and state-of-the-art computer science and data science to enhance the scientific understanding of cancer biology, and to develop its multi-cancer early detection blood test. GRAIL is headquartered in Menlo Park, CA with locations in Washington, D.C., North Carolina, and the United Kingdom. GRAIL, LLC, is a subsidiary of Illumina, Inc. (NASDAQ:ILMN) currently held separate from Illumina Inc. under the terms of the Interim Measures Order of the European Commission dated 29 October 2021.

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