Mechanism explains breast cancer cell plasticity

Medical Xpress | January 28, 2019

One of the main obstacles to successfully treating breast cancer is the cells' ability to change in ways that make them resistant to treatment. Understanding the cellular mechanisms that mediate this cancer cell plasticity may lead to improved treatments. Taking a step in that direction, a team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine has discovered that breast cancer cells can shift between two forms of the cell surface molecule CD44, CD44s, and CD44v. Published in the journal Genes & Development, the study shows that breast cancer cells expressing mainly CD44s have increased metastatic behavior and resistance to therapy, while those expressing CD44v do not associate with these behaviors but do presently increased cell proliferation. "One of the goals of my lab is to better understand the mechanisms that allow breast cancer cells to be remarkably heterogeneous, which is one of the reasons cancer is difficult to treat," said corresponding author Dr. Chonghui Cheng, associate professor at the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, of molecular and human genetics and of molecular and cellular biology at Baylor College of Medicine. "In this study, we investigated cancer stem cells, a cell population that has the plasticity to generate cells with different properties, focusing on the cell surface molecule CD44." CD44 is a well-known marker of cancer stem cells and one that is extensively studied in the Cheng lab. The CD44 gene can produce two different forms of the protein—CD44s and CD44v—via a process called alternative splicing. Cheng and her colleagues investigated whether there was a difference in the two forms of CD44 expressed in human breast cancer cells. They also wanted to know whether the different forms of CD44 contributed differently to the disease.

Spotlight

Bioprocess performance (efficiency, robustness, and cost) is dictated by the overall strategy chosen to implement the processing platform. The permissible strategy space itself is enabled by the performance, availability and robustness of existing bioprocess technologies. Single use systems and membrane chromatography have considerably enlarged the range of strategies available in bioprocessing today.

Spotlight

Bioprocess performance (efficiency, robustness, and cost) is dictated by the overall strategy chosen to implement the processing platform. The permissible strategy space itself is enabled by the performance, availability and robustness of existing bioprocess technologies. Single use systems and membrane chromatography have considerably enlarged the range of strategies available in bioprocessing today.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

NeuExcell Therapeutics and Spark Therapeutics Announce Research Collaboration Agreement to Develop a Novel Gene Therapy for Huntington's Disease

NeuExcell Therapeutics | September 13, 2021

NeuExcell Therapeutics and Spark Therapeutics, a member of the Roche Group announced a gene therapy collaboration aimed at developing a safe and effective treatment for patients suffering from Huntington's Disease (HD). Under the terms of the agreement, Spark Therapeutics will receive access to NeuExcell's proprietary neuro-regenerative gene therapy platform and capabilities. NeuExcell's research team will collaborate closely with Spark Therapeutics to advance the program. Under the Option License NeuExcell is eligible to receive upfront, license fees, R&D and Sales milestone payments up to approximately $190 million plus product royalties. Under this Agreement, Spark Therapeutics has the option to license the exclusive worldwide rights of the NeuExcell's HD program. The prevailing assumption has been that mammalian adult neurons cannot be replaced, and so therapeutic approaches for brain diseases tend to focus on slowing disease progress. NeuExcell Therapeutics may have unlocked the method for regenerating neural tissue. The company's neuroregenerative gene therapy platform is built around transcription factor-based trans-differentiation technology. The platform seeks to reprogram endogenous glial cells like astrocytes, which surround neurons and are often reactive after neurons are injured or die, into functional new neurons. While neurons cannot divide to regenerate themselves, glial cells are a renewable source for generating new neurons at the site of injury, and at the scale needed to have a meaningful therapeutic impact. NeuExcell is developing adeno-associated viruses (AAVs)-based neuroregenerative gene therapy to regenerate functional new neurons at the site of the neurodegeneration. "At Spark, we understand that in order to break down barriers for people and families affected by genetic diseases, we need to work with like-minded partners that can integrate innovative technologies with our advanced proprietary AAV vector platform," said Joseph La Barge, Chief Business Officer of Spark Therapeutics. "Using our existing expertise in gene therapy development and NeuExcell's neuro-regenerative gene therapy research and capabilities, together we can progress the potential of gene therapy for patients living with Huntington's Disease." Spark Therapeutic's advanced proprietary AAV vector platform targeted to the central nervous system offers the HD research and development (R&D) program a major advantage. At the forefront of gene therapy research for more than two decades, Spark Therapeutics has extensive knowledge and capabilities in this field that it will use to bring the HD program forward. About Huntington's Disease HD is an incurable, hereditary brain disorder caused by a single defective gene on chromosome 4. As the disease affects different parts of the brain, it impacts movement, behavior, and cognition. It becomes harder to walk, think, reason, swallow, and talk. Eventually, the person will need full-time care. The complications associated with HD are usually fatal. About NeuExcell Therapeutics. NeuExcell is a privately held early-stage gene therapy company headquartered in Pennsylvania, USA. Its mission is to improve the lives of patients suffering from neuro-degenerative diseases and CNS injuries. Based upon the scientific work of Prof. Gong Chen (Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Advisor), the Company has developed a potentially disruptive neural repair technology through in vivo astrocyte-to-neuron conversion by introducing neural transcription factors through adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapy. NeuExcell's pipeline covers major neurodegenerative diseases such as Stroke, Huntington's Disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, and Glioma. About Spark Therapeutics At Spark Therapeutics, a fully integrated, commercial company committed to discovering, developing and delivering gene therapies, we challenge the inevitability of genetic diseases, including blindness, hemophilia, lysosomal storage disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. We currently have four programs in clinical trials. At Spark, a member of the Roche Group, we see the path to a world where no life is limited by genetic disease.

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TFF Pharmaceuticals and Felix Biotechnology Sign Letter of Intent for a Collaboration, Development and License Agreement

Felix Biotechnology, Inc. | November 06, 2020

TFF Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: TFFP), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing innovative drug products based on its patented Thin Film Freezing (TFF) technology platform, and Felix Biotechnology, Inc., a clinical stage, biotherapeutic-based antibiotic development company, today jointly announce that both companies have entered into a letter of intent (LOI) which reflects the parties’ non-binding agreement in principle to negotiate and enter into a Collaboration, Development and License Agreement (CDLA). Under this proposed CDLA agreement, Felix Biotechnology would obtain a worldwide license to TFF Pharmaceuticals’ Thin Film Freezing technology to develop and manufacture dry powder formulations of a novel, bacteriophage-based biotherapeutics for inhalation delivery directly to the lungs of patients. Under the terms of the proposed CDLA and in exchange for the license to the TFF technology, Felix would agree to pay TFF Pharmaceuticals an upfront payment, development milestones, commercial milestones and royalties on net sales of the Felix biotherapeutics. A definitive CDLA is subject to the mutual agreement of the parties and a number of conditions, including Felix Biotechnology’s successful completion of a Series A financing.

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RESEARCH

TurtleTree Launches New Research and Development Facility in Greater Sacramento

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. About TurtleTree 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.

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