New disease surveillance tool helps detect any human virus

Phys.org | February 04, 2019

During the Zika virus outbreak of 2015-16, public health officials scrambled to contain the epidemic and curb the pathogen's devastating effects on pregnant women. At the same time, scientists around the globe tried to understand the genetics of this mysterious virus. The problem was, there just aren't many Zika virus particles in the blood of a sick patient. Looking for it in clinical samples can be like fishing for a minnow in an ocean.
A new computational method developed by Broad Institute scientists helps to overcome this hurdle. Built in the lab of Broad Institute researcher Pardis Sabeti, the "CATCH" method can be used to design molecular "baits" for any virus known to infect humans and all their known strains, including those that are present in low abundance in clinical samples, such as Zika. The approach can help small sequencing centers around the globe conduct disease surveillance more efficiently and cost-effectively, which can provide crucial information for controlling outbreaks.

Spotlight

The healthcare industry across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is in the midst of a transition, one that will help improve the operating environment, reduce costs and increase opportunities across the value chain of the multibillion-dollar industry.

Spotlight

The healthcare industry across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is in the midst of a transition, one that will help improve the operating environment, reduce costs and increase opportunities across the value chain of the multibillion-dollar industry.

Related News

INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

BioNTech and Medigene Announce Global Collaboration to Advance T Cell Receptor Immunotherapies Against Cancer

BioNTech SE | February 22, 2022

BioNTech SE and Medigene AG a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company focusing on the development of T cell immunotherapies, announced that they have entered a multi-target research collaboration to develop T cell receptor (TCR) based immunotherapies against cancer. The initial term of the collaboration is three years. Medigene will contribute its proprietary TCR discovery platform for the development of TCRs against multiple solid tumor targets nominated by BioNTech. Medigene’s automated, high throughput TCR discovery platform is designed to bypass central tolerance to yield high affinity TCRs. T cell therapy has become a disruptive medical innovation in the treatment of patients with cancer. Engineered TCR-modified T cells (TCR-T cells) are reprogrammed to express a TCR that can recognize specific antigens only present on tumor cells, thereby enabling a precise and potent immune response to attack a patient’s tumor. “This collaboration with Medigene expands our cell therapy portfolio and TCR discovery capabilities, and further strengthens our ability to be a leader in the rapidly emerging field of engineered cell therapies. We look forward to working closely with Medigene to develop new treatments which address solid tumors with high unmet medical need.” Ugur Sahin, M.D., Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of BioNTech Prof. Dolores Schendel, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer at Medigene: “Medigene is at the forefront of the development of TCR-T therapies for oncology. The sale and licensing deal with BioNTech is an important validation from a global leading biotech company of our proprietary technologies to discover and characterize highly specific TCRs and empower resulting TCR-T cells to fight solid tumors. This partnership provides Medigene with meaningful financial resources to fuel our next generation development programs targeting potentially novel tumor-specific “dark matter” antigens, further tools to enhance T-cell-based immunotherapies, as well as additional potential strategic deals with future milestone payments and royalties.” BioNTech will acquire Medigene’s next generation preclinical TCR program, which combines TCR-4 of Medigene’s MDG10XX program targeting PRAME with Medigene’s proprietary PD1-41BB switch receptor technology. BioNTech will also obtain the exclusive option to acquire additional existing TCRs in Medigene’s discovery pipeline and will receive licenses to the company’s PD1-41BB switch receptor and precision pairing library. This has the potential to augment TCR cell therapy efficacy and can be applied to all BioNTech cell therapy programs. Under the terms of the agreement, Medigene will receive EUR 26 million upfront, as well as research funding for the period of the collaboration. BioNTech will be responsible for global development and hold exclusive worldwide commercialization rights on all TCR therapies resulting from this research collaboration. Medigene will be eligible to receive development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments up to a triple digit million EUR amount per program in addition to tiered deferred option payments on global net sales for products based on TCRs arising from the collaboration and royalties on products utilizing at least one of the licensed technologies. About BioNTech Biopharmaceutical New Technologies is a next generation immunotherapy company pioneering novel therapies for cancer and other serious diseases. The Company exploits a wide array of computational discovery and therapeutic drug platforms for the rapid development of novel biopharmaceuticals. Its broad portfolio of oncology product candidates includes individualized and off-the-shelf mRNA-based therapies, innovative chimeric antigen receptor T cells, bi-specific checkpoint immuno-modulators, targeted cancer antibodies and small molecules. Based on its deep expertise in mRNA vaccine development and in-house manufacturing capabilities, BioNTech and its collaborators are developing multiple mRNA vaccine candidates for a range of infectious diseases alongside its diverse oncology pipeline. BioNTech has established a broad set of relationships with multiple global pharmaceutical collaborators, including Genmab, Sanofi, Bayer Animal Health, Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, Regeneron, Genevant, Fosun Pharma and Pfizer. About Medigene Medigene AG (FSE: MDG1, ISIN DE000A1X3W00, Prime Standard) is a publicly listed biotechnology company headquartered in Planegg/Martinsried near Munich, Germany. With its scientific expertise, Medigene is working on the development of innovative immunotherapies to enhance T cell activity against solid cancers in fields of high unmet medical need. Medigene’s pipeline includes preclinical as well as clinical programs in development. Medigene’s strategy is to develop its own therapies towards clinical proof-of-concept. In addition, the Company offers selected partners the opportunity to discover and develop therapies on the basis of its proprietary technology platforms. In return for such partnerships, Medigene expects to receive upfront and milestone payments as well as research and development funding and royalties on future product sales. About Medigene’s TCR-T cells T cells are at the center of Medigene’s therapeutic approaches. With the aid of Medigene’s immunotherapies the patient’s own defense mechanisms are activated, and T cells harnessed in the battle against cancer. Medigene’s therapies arm the patient’s own T cells with tumor-specific T cell receptors (TCRs). The resulting TCR-T cells should thereby be able to detect and efficiently kill cancer cells. About Medigene’s PD1-41BB switch receptor Checkpoint inhibition via PD1-PDL1 pathway: Solid tumor cells are known to be sensitive to killing by activated T cells. Tumor cells can escape this killing activity by expressing inhibitory molecules, so-called ‘checkpoint proteins’, such as Programmed Death Ligand 1 (PD-L1) on their surface. When this occurs, activated T cells which express PD-1, the natural receptor for PD-L1, are inactivated. The expression of PD-L1 by tumors represents an adaptive immune resistance mechanism that can lead to tumor survival and growth. About Medigene’s precision pairing library T cell receptors (TCRs) consist of an alpha and a beta chain, which together act as a receptor on the cell surface of T cells. Medigene's therapies aim to equip the patient's own T cells with tumor-specific TCRs. The resulting TCR-T cells should thereby be able to detect and efficiently kill cancer cells. The precision pairing library allows selection of specific modifications in each chain of a TCR so that the alpha and beta chains preferentially pair with each other, with the result that improved TCR surface expression and/or functionality is achieved.

Read More

INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

AMYRIS TO ACQUIRE MENOLABS FOR MENOPAUSE WELLNESS ACCELERATING GROWTH OF CONSUMER BUSINESS

Amyris, Inc. | January 25, 2022

Amyris, Inc. a leading synthetic biotechnology company accelerating the world's transition to sustainable consumption through its Lab-to-Market™ operating platform announces that it has agreed to exclusive terms to acquire the assets of MenoLabs, LLC, a women-founded company to treat menopause symptoms, drive research for women's health and improve society's understanding of menopause. Amyris previously communicated its intention of launching a new consumer brand to provide science-backed, wellness and personal care products for the high growth menopause market in 2022. The acquisition of MenoLabs will serve as a catalyst to accelerate growth and establish a leadership position in the fast-growing menopause market. MenoLabs, a growing women's wellness brand is focused on addressing perimenopause and menopause symptoms. MenoLabs is one of few companies offering research-backed all-natural treatments of menopause symptoms. Over the past two years, MenoLabs has developed and launched eight products, including its lead product, MenoFit, an all-natural menopause relief supplement. MenoLabs generates a subscription-based, recurring revenue stream via its website, in addition to the Subscribe & Save option offered via the Amazon channel. The company is further expanding its omnichannel by penetrating retail channels in 2022. Additionally, MenoLabs launched MenoLife, a highly rated perimenopause and menopause health tracker app which helps users track and analyze more than 40 menopause-related symptoms. MenoLife also has created an online forum where users can comment and react to posts. Menopause symptoms impact the lives of approximately 25 million women per year and 6,000 women in the U.S. enter perimenopause every day (2.2 million each year). By 2025, there will be over one billion people experiencing menopause in the world or around 12% of the entire world population. Stigma, lack of open discussion, and a small product offering at an affordable price are barriers to care for women. The menopause market was valued at around $15 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach approximately $23 billion by 2028. "We are very impressed with the MenoLabs offering which is synergistic with our science-based approach to real-world health and wellness issues. We are committed to empowering women and creating a platform to support them with our leading science and wellness technology platform. Women deserve products and solutions that work during this period in their lives. Our acquisition of the products and app that the MenoLabs team has built accelerates Amyris' entry into the menopause market. We expect the combination of MenoLabs and the previously announced menopause brand with Naomi Watts to have the potential to deliver an estimated $30 million in revenue in their first year and expect significant growth potential in the years ahead. We continue to execute on our growth strategy diversifying our consumer offering in Clean Beauty, Health and Wellness end-markets, continuing the strong growth momentum from 2021 into the current quarter." John Melo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Amyris About Amyris Amyris is a leading synthetic biotechnology company, transitioning the Clean Health & Beauty and Flavors & Fragrances markets to sustainable ingredients through fermentation and the company's proprietary Lab-to-Market™ operating platform. This Amyris platform leverages state-of-the-art machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence, enabling the company to rapidly bring new innovation to market at commercial scale. Amyris ingredients are included in over 20,000 products from the world's top brands, reaching more than 300 million consumers. Amyris also owns and operates a family of consumer brands that is constantly evolving to meet the growing demand for sustainable, effective and accessible products. About MenoLabs MenoLabs was founded to fundamentally change how menopause is addressed. The brand's mission is to provide options to treat menopause symptoms, drive research for women's health and change how society approaches, views and educates around the topic of menopause. MenoLabs has developed a line of all natural, proprietary supplements focused on treating perimenopause and menopause symptoms, in addition to MenoLife, a leading menopause health tracker app that provides women a voice and community. MenoLife also provides symptom tracking to further fuel research and advancements in women's health.

Read More

CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Research Demonstrates Novel HIT Receptor Enhances T cell Antigen Sensitivity and Elicits Superior Tumor Control

Mnemo Therapeutics | January 24, 2022

The journal Nature Medicine recently published a study in which researchers developed a novel receptor to enhance recognition of tumors by engineered T cells, addressing an underlying cause for relapsed tumors in patients after chimeric antigen receptor therapy. The study demonstrates high antigen sensitivity of HLA-independent T-cell receptors, created by editing the TCR Alpha Constant chain locus in human peripheralbio blood Tcells. Low antigen expression One major limitation of CARs is antigen escape, when a tumor no longer expresses the antigen detectable by the CARs or expresses them at a very low level; CARs with heightened sensitivity to low-expression level antigens boosts the efficacy of otherwise promising T-cell therapies. In the study, conducted by researchers at New York's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, researchers produced HIT T-cells and analyzed them in animal models HIT T-cells were engineered from human peripheral blood T-cells by inserting variable region genes in the TRAC locus, endowing the cell with a single specificity for a target antigen such as CD19. Notably, this sensitivity was shown to be higher than traditional CARs for low levels of antigen expression resulting in superior cytotoxicity and cytokine secretion. HIT Tcells outperformed traditional CAR T-cells in vivo in mouse models of B cell leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia, without costimulation. Coexpression of HIT with CD80 and 4-1BBL further augmented therapeutic activity and mouse survival. HIT T-cells are a promising therapy for targeting cancer cell surface antigens with low abundance due to their sensitivity and persistence. The team responsible for this important work includes MSKCC researcher and Mnemo Therapeutics scientific cofounder Michel Sadelain, M.D., Ph.D., MSKCC researcher and Mnemo scientific advisor Isabelle Rivière, Ph.D., as well as Justin Eyquem, Ph.D., University of California San Franciso and Mnemo scientific cofounder. Mnemo's EnfiniT Platform These findings support Mnemo's EnfiniT platform as the next-generation toolkit for CAR-T immunotherapies, which are founded on decades of breakthrough research from Institut Curie and MSKCC, and supported with best-in-class T-cell manufacturing. The EnfiniT platform brings together a suite of technologies to address the key challenges associated with CAR T therapies by both identifying a new class of antigens with greater tumor specificity and applying a range of technologies to significantly improve T-cell memory, persistence and sensitivity. The goal is to dramatically improve the body's ability to fight and overcome disease. About Mnemo Therapeutics Mnemo Therapeutics is a biotechnology company focused on the development of powerful new cell therapies. With its EnfiniT platform, Mnemo applies a novel, integrated approach to T-cell therapy to transform the body's immune response to overcome disease. Mnemo is headquartered in Paris with an office in New York City, and it maintains state of the art laboratories in Paris, New York, and Princeton, New Jersey. The company leverages an international talent pool and global resources in its quest to create accessible cures for all patients in need.

Read More