ICR Collaborates With AI Drug Discovery Company To Develop Treatments for Rare Childhood Cancer

Technology Networks | October 04, 2019

Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, are working with Healx, a biotech company specialising in artificial intelligence (AI) to discover new possible ways of treating diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an essentially untreatable brain cancer in children. Professor Chris Jones from The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) – a world-leading figure in the study of DIPG – and his team are collaborating with Healx, which specialises in discovering and developing new treatments for rare diseases. By combining AI and machine learning techniques with insight from its pharmacology and drug discovery researchers, Healx has been able to make predictions about which existing drugs, already used in other diseases, could be repurposed to treat DIPG. Healx has previously used this approach to identify potential new treatments for rare cancers in partnership with childhood cancer charity aPODD. Professor Jones is now planning to research these drugs in the laboratory to work out if they could be used as treatments.

Spotlight

The past decade has seen a significant shift in the nature of the products being manufactured and sold by the innovative biopharmaceutical (biopharma) industry. The global biopharmaceutical portfolio of today reflects increased therapeutic competition, a greater prevalence of large molecule drugs, expansion in the number of personalized or targeted products, and a rise of treatments for many orphan diseases.

Spotlight

The past decade has seen a significant shift in the nature of the products being manufactured and sold by the innovative biopharmaceutical (biopharma) industry. The global biopharmaceutical portfolio of today reflects increased therapeutic competition, a greater prevalence of large molecule drugs, expansion in the number of personalized or targeted products, and a rise of treatments for many orphan diseases.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

QIAGEN and Neuron23 Partner to Develop Next-Generation Sequencing Companion Diagnostic for Novel Parkinson’s Disease Drug

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. About QIAGEN 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. About Neuron23™ 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.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Emergent BioSolutions Completes Acquisition of Exclusive Worldwide Rights to TEMBEXA® First FDA-Approved Smallpox Oral Antiviral for All Ages

TEMBEXA and Smallpox | September 27, 2022

Emergent BioSolutions Inc. announced that it has completed its acquisition of exclusive worldwide rights to TEMBEXA® the first oral antiviral approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for all age groups for the treatment of smallpox, from Chimerix. TEMBEXA was approved in June 2021 and is indicated for the treatment of human smallpox disease in adult and pediatric patients, including neonates. The completion of the acquisition follows the satisfaction or waiver by the parties, as applicable, of all closing conditions, including expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR Act), as amended, and receipt of consent from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for a sub-contract agreement between Chimerix and Emergent. “The addition of TEMBEXA to our smallpox medical countermeasure franchise, which consists of our smallpox vaccine and therapeutic for smallpox vaccine complications, creates a more comprehensive offering to combat this deadly public health threat. We look forward to supporting the U.S. government’s smallpox preparedness strategy on a broader scale by executing on this BARDA contract.” Paul Williams, SVP government/MCM business at Emergent The 10-year contract valued at up to $680 million, to supply up to 1.7 million treatment courses of tablet and suspension formulations of TEMBEXA® to the U.S. government, was awarded to Chimerix on August 29, 2022. The contract includes an initial product procurement valued at approximately $115 million, with optional future procurement, valued at up to approximately $551 million, exercisable at the sole discretion of BARDA. In addition to product procurement, the contract includes reimbursed post marketing activities of approximately $12 million. Financial Terms Based on the terms of the final BARDA agreement, Emergent is expected to pay Chimerix An upfront payment of $238 million; Potential milestone payments of up to $124 million contingent on the potential exercise by the U.S. government of procurement options following the base period; 15% royalty on gross profit from sales of TEMBEXA outside the U.S.; 20% royalty on gross profit from sales of TEMBEXA in the U.S. that are in excess of the 1.7 million treatment courses as contemplated in the existing BARDA contract; and Up to an additional $12.5 million upon achievement of certain development-based milestones. ABOUT TEMBEXA TEMBEXA is an oral antiviral approved by the FDA in June 2021 for the treatment of human smallpox disease caused by variola virus in adult and pediatric patients, including neonates. TEMBEXA is formulated as 100 mg tablets and 10 mg/mL oral suspension dosed once weekly for two weeks. The oral suspension formulation is particularly important for patients who have difficulty swallowing due to age or medical status. TEMBEXA is not indicated for the treatment of diseases other than human smallpox disease. The effectiveness of TEMBEXA for the treatment of smallpox disease has not been determined in humans because adequate and well-controlled field trials have not been feasible and inducing smallpox disease in humans to study the drug’s efficacy is not ethical. TEMBEXA efficacy may be reduced in immunocompromised patients based on studies in immune deficient animals. TEMBEXA has a BOXED WARNING for increased risk for mortality when used for longer duration. About Smallpox Smallpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the variola virus. Historically, smallpox was one of the deadliest diseases in history with a case fatality rate of approximately 30%. Despite successful eradication of smallpox in the 1970s, there is considerable concern that variola virus could reappear, either through accidental release or as a weapon of bioterrorism. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention variola virus is ranked in the highest risk category for bioterrorism agents due to its ease of transmission, high mortality rate, and potential to cause public panic and social disruption. Based on a recent report – The Department of Health and Human Services Fiscal Year 2023 Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund Justification of Estimates for Appropriations Committee – smallpox remains a threat of high concern to both the domestic and international community. About Emergent BioSolutions At Emergent, our mission is to protect and enhance life. For over 20 years, we’ve been at work defending people from things we hope will never happen—so we are prepared just in case they ever do. We provide solutions for complex and urgent public health threats through a portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics that we develop and manufacture for governments and consumers. We also offer a range of integrated contract development and manufacturing services for pharmaceutical and biotechnology customers.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Hamilton and BioFluidica Pen Next Generation Liquid Biopsy Platform Co-Marketing Agreement

BioFluidica, Inc. | September 28, 2022

Biofluidica, Inc., and Hamilton Company, announced a co-marketing agreement to bring advanced Liquid Biopsy capabilities to laboratories worldwide. Biofluidica has developed the next-generation liquid biopsy platform, enabling Hamilton liquid handlers to process biological samples to isolate extremely rare circulating tumor cells, circulating Leukemic cells, fetal cells, cfDNA, and exosomes. The Biofluidica platform, LiquidScan™, integrates seamlessly into the Hamilton pipetting robots. The high precision fluid control provided by the Hamilton automated pipetting channels is designed to avoid processing loss using the Biofluidica proprietary closed-loop pipetting interface with the Biofluidica microfluidic biomarker selection chips. This announcement represents early commercialization for BioFluidica and a unique alliance for Hamilton Company. The STARlet offers a custom application-configurable liquid handling robot with sensitive programmable pneumatic features that enable walk-away automation for precision biological procedures. LiquidScan utilizes these features to isolate and enrich rare biomarker populations directly from biological samples such as a blood draw potentially replacing the need for surgical biopsies and making testing available for cancer types not previously amenable to surgical biopsy. "LiquidScan is a novel platform that enhances the ability to perform diagnostic testing applied to many diseases, including several types of cancer, prenatal diagnostics, stroke, and infectious diseases. We have worked with Hamilton to ensure seamless automation allowing for high-throughput and lower-cost testing than current surgical biopsy procedures. There is a win-win scenario here for patients, physicians, and the healthcare system. Because LiquidScan uses a standard blood draw, and non-invasive screening, patients can receive closer monitoring of treatment regimens, and physicians can attain higher quality and earlier patient results. Expensive and time-consuming surgical procedures can be removed from the health-care system." Rolf Muller, BioFluidica CEO About Hamilton Hamilton is a leading global manufacturer, providing automated liquid handling workstations and laboratory automation technology to the scientific community. With a focus on innovative design, Hamilton products incorporate patented liquid handling technologies into a portfolio that includes liquid handling platforms, standard application-based solutions, small devices, consumables, and OEM liquid handling solutions. Known for advancing life science, clinical diagnostics, forensics, and biotechnology industries, Hamilton products offer reliability, performance, and flexibility. Ensuring a continuous commitment to quality, Hamilton utilizes state-of-the-art manufacturing at production facilities in Reno, Nevada, and Bonaduz, Switzerland and has earned a global ISO 9001 certification. Privately held, Hamilton maintains headquarters in Reno, Nevada; Franklin, Massachusetts; and Bonaduz, Switzerland, along with subsidiary offices throughout the world. About BioFluidica BioFluidica Inc. is a privately held biotechnology company that has developed a revolutionary liquid biopsy platform.

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