It’s Not Just Fish, Plastic Pollution Harms The Bacteria That Help Us Breathe

bioengineer | May 14, 2019

Ten per cent of the oxygen we breathe comes from just one kind of bacteria in the ocean. Now laboratory tests have shown that these bacteria are susceptible to plastic pollution, according to a study published in Communications Biology. “We found that exposure to chemicals leaching from plastic pollution interfered with the growth, photosynthesis and oxygen production of Prochlorococcus, the ocean’s most abundant photosynthetic bacteria,” says lead author and Macquarie University researcher Dr Sasha Tetu. “Now we’d like to explore if plastic pollution is having the same impact on these microbes in the ocean.” Plastic pollution has been estimated to cause more than US$13 billion in economic damage to marine ecosystems each year, and the problem is only getting worse with marine plastic pollution estimated to outweigh fish by 2050. “This pollution can leach a variety of chemical additives into marine environments, but unlike the threats posed by animals ingesting or getting entangled in plastic debris the threat these leachates pose to marine life has received relatively little attention,” says Dr Lisa Moore, a co-author on the paper. In the first study of its kind, the researchers looked at the effects these chemicals have on the smallest life in our oceans, photosynthetic marine bacteria.

Spotlight

Metastasis occurs when cancer cells break off from a primary tumor, travel to other parts of the body and form new tumors. Metastasis causes up to 90 percent of all cancer deaths.

Spotlight

Metastasis occurs when cancer cells break off from a primary tumor, travel to other parts of the body and form new tumors. Metastasis causes up to 90 percent of all cancer deaths.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

McMaster, Sartorius Stedim Biotech team up to advance biomanufacturing processes with next-gen tech

Sartorius Stedim Biotech S.A | August 23, 2021

Sartorius Stedim Biotech, a leading international partner of the biopharmaceutical industry, has entered into a partnership with McMaster University to improve manufacturing processes of antibody and virus-based treatments for diseases such as COVID-19, cancers, and genetic disorders. Using a state-of-the-art multi-column chromatography system provided by Sartorius Stedim Biotech, the McMaster team will "perfect" a process for the purification of therapeutic viruses that is more effective and cheaper than those currently available. This will pave the way for new and more affordable treatments to reach patients with a variety of needs. "Teaming up with Sartorius Stedim Biotech is an exciting opportunity for McMaster Engineering. This research will push the envelope in leading advanced, cutting-edge research in bio-manufacturing," says John Preston, associate dean, research, innovation and external relations in the Faculty of Engineering. "Establishing industry-friendly, collaborative environments is critical in solving real-world problems." This work aims to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set out by the United Nations, designed to give our people and planet a better future. More effective bio-manufacturing can make advanced biotherapeutics cost-effective and available to more people globally. "This partnership with McMaster University will lead to impactful research that will make important treatments available at a greater scale. We see this as a way to expand our research development and bring SDG-aligned pharmaceuticals to Canadian and global markets," says Brandon Corbett, research scientist at Sartorius Stedim Biotech. David Latulippe, associate professor of Chemical Engineering, and Prashant Mhaskar, professor of Chemical Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Nonlinear and Fault-Tolerant Control, are leading this project with Sartorius Stedim Biotech. The collaboration will initially run for four years. What is chromatography? Chromatography is an essential purification technology in biomanufacturing. To produce biotherapeutics, scientists use a bioreactor with specialized cell lines and customized growth media. Next, the biotherapeutic must go through a series of purification steps, often with duplicate steps to satisfy the requirements of regulatory bodies. Sartorius Stedim Biotechs' multi-column chromatography system uses parallel processing strategies to make the process more resource and cost-efficient. "Our ultimate goal is to perfect the downstream chromatography process by combining detailed experimental work with advanced process modelling concepts," says Latulippe. "This way, we can control the outcome and fix the processes on site, as production is happening, so everything is always 'on spec'." Currently, monoclonal antibodies are the leading biotherapeutic being used to fight against COVID-19. Training the next generation As part of the partnership, Sartorius Stedim Biotech will provide student training opportunities at their research and development facilities in North America and Europe. Ian Gough, a graduate of McMaster's Chemical and Bioengineering program, has already started working on this project. Gough is a former member of the Summer Studentship Internship program from BioCanRx, a Networks of Centres of Excellence program. Claire Velikonja, a recent chemical engineering graduate from the University of Toronto, will join the team in September. Both Gough and Velikonja received a Canada Graduate Scholarship from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to provide additional support for their first year of graduate studies. A profile of Sartorius Stedim Biotech Sartorius Stedim Biotech is a leading international partner of the biopharmaceutical industry. As a total solutions provider, the company helps its customers to manufacture biotech medications safely, rapidly and economically. Headquartered in Aubagne, France, Sartorius Stedim Biotech is quoted on the Eurolist of Euronext Paris. With its own manufacturing and R&D sites in Europe, North America and Asia and an international network of sales companies, Sartorius Stedim Biotech has a global reach. The Group has been annually growing by double digits on average and has been regularly expanding its portfolio by acquisitions of complementary technologies. In 2020, the company employed more than 7,500 people, and earned sales revenue of 1,910 million euros. About McMaster University Ranked among the world's top engineering schools, the Faculty of Engineering plays a significant role in helping McMaster University earn its reputation as one of Canada's most innovative universities. Our focus is on experiential, problem-based learning, and our interdisciplinary approach to collaboration results in smarter insights, groundbreaking ideas, and greater optimism. This approach is helping us create a Brighter World.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

EXUMA Biotech Completes Series B2 to Advance Novel Cell & Gene Therapies

EXUMA Biotech Corp. | December 22, 2021

EXUMA Biotech, Corp., a clinical-stage biotechnology company discovering and developing cell and gene therapies and delivery solutions for liquid and solid tumors, announced the completion of a $41 million Series B2 financing. The Series B2 brings the total capital raised since its inception to approximately $130 million. Proceeds will be used to support further development of EXUMA's autologous subcutaneous rPOC CAR-TaNK platform for hematologic and solid tumors and continued clinical investigation of its Tumor Metabolism Regulated CAR technology targeting solid tumors. New investors in the Series B2 financing included Americo Life, Inc., in addition to existing investors. "We are pleased to expand our investor base with support from this strategic group of investors who recognize the potential of our technologies to translate into life-changing therapies for cancer patients," Gregory Frost, Ph.D., EXUMA Biotech Chairman and Chief Executive Offer "Dr. Holmes is a renowned cancer specialist who will make an outstanding addition to our board of directors. He has dedicated his life to researching advanced cellular and immunotherapy treatments for hematologic malignancies and to the education of the oncology community about these new modalities," said Frost. Houston Holmes, M.D., received a BS in medical microbiology from Stanford University School of Medicine, an MD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, and an MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas. He completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Baylor University Medical Center, and fellowship in medical oncology/hematology at the National Cancer Institute/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Dr. Holmes has been in practice for over 20 years. "It's an exciting time for cell and gene therapies. I'm thrilled to be a part of EXUMA and to join the company in its mission to advance innovative therapies towards the clinic and for cancer patients in urgent need of new treatments," said Houston Holmes, M.D. About EXUMA Biotech EXUMA Biotech is a clinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering the discovery and development of novel cellular therapies and gene delivery solutions for patients with cancer. The company leverages its global R&D footprint to discover, manufacture and develop gene delivery platforms and gene programs that may overcome the safety, efficacy, and scalability challenges of cellular therapies in solid tumor and hematologic malignancies. The company is headquartered in West Palm Beach.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Serotiny and Tessera Therapeutics enter into collaboration to engineer and optimize programmable Gene Writer proteins

Serotiny | March 01, 2022

Serotiny, a leader in high-throughput therapeutic Multi-Domain Protein engineering, and Tessera Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering a new approach in genetic medicines known as Gene Writing technology, today announced a collaboration to engineer programmable Gene Writer proteins. This collaboration will build on Tessera’s innovations in genome engineering technologies and apply Serotiny’s tMDP mining and design expertise to further optimize Tessera’s programmable Gene Writer proteins, capable of making diverse and directed alterations to the genome. “We’re extremely excited to be working with the Tessera team. It provides Serotiny a unique opportunity to extend the validation of our platform and to continue to advance our efforts in discovering and developing proteins with novel function for the purpose of enhancing the therapeutic utility of next-generation genetic medicines.” Colin Farlow, J.D., Serotiny’s CEO Tessera’s Gene Writer candidates can allow the substitution, insertion, or deletion of DNA sequences, as well as the writing of entire genes into the genome, offering the potential for a new category of genetic medicines. By partnering with Serotiny, Tessera will have the ability to identify, screen, and optimize a variety of proteins that can serve as the foundation of future Gene Writer therapies across a variety of disease states. “Tessera’s mission is to cure disease by writing in the code of life and we’re committed to continuously innovating to improve and expand our Gene Writing platform,” said Geoffrey von Maltzahn, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Tessera. “Our R&D engine seeks to learn from billions of years of mobile genetic element evolution to generate novel Gene Writing systems with the ability to solve important challenges in genetic medicine. Serotiny’s multi-domain engineering expertise has the potential to further optimize our Gene Writer protein libraries and we’re delighted to partner with the Serotiny team.” Under terms of the agreement Serotiny will receive an upfront payment and is eligible for certain future consideration, contingent upon the collaboration achieving pre-specified performance thresholds. About Serotiny Serotiny is a pre-clinical discovery company building better gene and cell therapies through high-throughput engineering of therapeutic Multi-Domain Proteins (tMDP) such as Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs), CAR alternatives, accessory proteins, and next generation gene editors. At the heart of Serotiny’s technology is a discovery platform that harmonizes computationally aided protein design, high-throughput cellular assays, and next generation sequencing. Serotiny’s platform enables a cross disciplinary approach to engineering large and often unstructured multi-domain proteins, applying expertise from synthetic biology, immunology, machine learning, software engineering and bioinformatics. About Tessera’s Gene Writer platform Tessera’s Gene Writer proteins are based on nature’s genome architects, Mobile Genetic Elements (MGEs)—the most abundant class of genes across the tree of life, representing approximately half of the human genome. Tessera has evaluated tens of thousands of natural and synthetic MGEs to create Gene Writer candidates in multiple categories including RNA Gene Writer proteins that use target-primed reverse transcription (TPRT), which evolved in a class of MGEs known as retrotransposons. TPRT uses three steps to make an alteration: DNA-binding, DNA-nicking (without double strand breaks to DNA), and reverse transcription. Tessera’s Gene Writing technology requires a DNA sequence match at all three steps, reducing the likelihood of off-target editing. Tessera’s Gene Writer components can be delivered as therapeutic compositions comprised of RNA molecules within lipid nanoparticles, offering the potential for scalable, re-dosable genetic medicines with the ability to make the full spectrum of small and large edits to genome, from single or multi-base pair corrections, insertions, deletions, to writing entire genes. DNA Gene Writer proteins are derived from recombinases and integrases and enable permanent integration of whole-gene sequences, delivered as DNA, into the genome without the introduction of double-strand breaks. This opens up the potential for treating pediatric patients leveraging validated delivery modalities Tessera’s research engine further optimizes the discovered Gene Writer candidates for efficiency, specificity, and fidelity—essentially compressing eons of evolution into a few months. About Tessera Therapeutics Tessera Therapeutics is pioneering Gene Writing technology, which consists of multiple technology platforms designed to offer scientists and clinicians the ability to write therapeutic messages into the human genome, thereby curing diseases at their source. The Gene Writing platform allows the correction of single nucleotides, the deletion or insertion of short sequences of DNA, and the writing of entire genes into the genome, offering the potential for a new category of genetic medicines with broad applications both in vivo and ex vivo. Tessera Therapeutics was founded by Flagship Pioneering, a life sciences enterprise that conceives, resources, and develops first-in-category bioplatform companies to transform human health and sustainability.

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