CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Discovery Life Sciences | October 28, 2020
Discovery Life Sciences™ (Discovery), a global leader in biospecimen, genomic sequencing, cell, and immunohistochemistry (IHC) services, announces the launch of GMP-compliant Discovery Leukopaks™ and other cell-based products for use in human cell and gene therapy research, development and manufacturing programs. Cell and gene therapies have revolutionized treatment approaches to cancer and other complex diseases. Acceleration of the manufacturing and development of these novel therapies requires fast and reliable access to high quality, well-characterized human cellular raw materials. Discovery's reputation for speed and quality will be a boon to researchers around the globe. Discovery's launch of GMP-compliant Discovery Leukopaks and derivatives adds to Discovery's existing RUO (research-use-only) fresh and cryopreserved leukopaks and isolated immune cell populations. Discovery's next-generation short and long read sequencing and flow cytometry services can be incorporated to provide highly characterized, reliable human cellular materials for research, development, and GMP manufacturing.
NiKang Therapeutics | May 31, 2021
NiKang Therapeutics Inc., a clinical-stage biotech company focused on developing innovative small molecule oncology medicines to assist patients with unmet medical needs; today announced the completion of an oversubscribed $200 million Series C financing led by Cormorant Asset Management, HBM Healthcare Investments, and Octagon Capital Advisors with participation from a premier syndicate of funds, including new investors EcoR1 Capital, Perceptive Advisors, Wellington Management, Ally Bridge Group, Pavilion Capital, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, RA Capital Management, Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company), Samsara BioCapital, PFM Health Sciences, Invus, Janus Henderson Investors and Logos Capital. All existing investors, including CBC Group, RTW Investments, LP, Lilly Asia Ventures, Matrix Partners China, and Casdin Capital, participated in the financing. About the funding, Bing Yao, Ph.D., former CEO and chairman of Viela Bio, and Ting Jia, Ph.D., founder and chief investment officer of Octagon Capital Advisors, will join NiKang’s Board of Directors.
“We are thrilled to have such an outstanding group of investors as our shareholders,” said Zhenhai Gao, Ph.D., co-founder, president, and chief executive officer of NiKang. “Their support of our vision allows us to build the world’s leading precision oncology company. We are now well-positioned to rapidly advance our pipeline into the clinic, including our differentiated HIF-2 alpha inhibitor, and to bring our company to the next level of growth.”
“This financing is a testament to the quality of our science and team,” Kelsey Chen, Ph.D., MBA, chief financial officer, added. “Since joining NiKang, I have witnessed the passion and dedication of a group of talented scientists who are devoting their lives to advancing treatments for patients. We are grateful to be recognized by such a high-caliber group of investors.”
“NiKang has made remarkable progress over the last eight months since our initial investment,” said Ting Jia, Ph.D., a chief investment officer of Octagon. “We are impressed by the team’s accomplishment. We believe NiKang’s unique approach to attacking difficult-to-drug targets offers promising opportunities to develop breakthrough treatments for cancer patients. We are excited to co-lead the series C financing and partner with the NiKang team to accelerate its growth.”
“We are proud of what NiKang has achieved since its inception,” said Sean Cao, executive chairman of NiKang and managing director of CBC Group, which incubated the company. “The strength of this group of investors validates NiKang’s achievements and demonstrates their confidence in NiKang’s potential to grow into a leading innovative drug company.”
Proceeds will be used to advance the company’s lead drug candidates into the clinic, expand the pipeline, and fund internal drug discovery programs.
About NiKang Therapeutics
NiKang Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotech company focused on discovering and developing innovative small molecule oncology medicines to assist patients with unmet medical needs. Our target selection is driven by deep insights into disease biology and molecular pathways. Our discovery approach is informed by target structure biology and capitalizes on structure-based drug design. The successful implementation of our strategy enables us to rapidly and efficiently discover and advance proprietary drug candidates with the most desirable pharmacological features into clinical studies. We strive to bring transformative medicines to patients in need.
CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Biogen, Ginkgo Bioworks | May 22, 2021
Biogen and Ginkgo Bioworks announced a partnership in gene therapy today. The companies aim to redefine the industry standard for manufacturing recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based vectors by working together.
Recombinant AAV-based vectors are extensively used in the development of novel gene therapies with the ability to cure neurological and neuromuscular diseases, as well as other conditions in a variety of therapeutic areas. Manufacturing is now time-consuming and expensive, making it difficult to develop therapies for diseases with high dosage requirements and large patient populations.
Ginkgo intends to address these issues by using its mammalian cell programming platform to increase the performance of AAV-producing plasmid vectors and cell lines, potentially accelerating Biogen's development of novel gene therapies.
“We believe that Ginkgo's unique combination of cell programming expertise, proprietary tools, and biological system awareness makes them a perfect collaborative partner to explore a broad range of design ideas to optimize constructs,” said Alphonse Galdes, Ph.D., Biogen's Head of Pharmaceutical Operations and Technology.“They share our goal of ensuring that approved therapies are not delayed due to manufacturing constraints and are available to patients all over the world.”
“We are delighted to partner with Biogen as they seek to develop treatments that can potentially delay, stop, or cure neurological and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as to improve the industry standard for AAV manufacturing,” said Jason Kelly, CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks. “Synthetic biology is utilizing the power of living cells to develop the next generation of therapeutics, including CAR-T, CRISPR, and gene therapies, which we hope would have a significant effect on the lives of many people.”
Biogen will have access to Ginkgo's proprietary cell programming platform and capabilities under the terms of the agreement. Ginkgo will use its bioengineering facilities and resources to improve Biogen's gene therapy manufacturing processes' AAV output titers. Ginkgo will receive a $5 million initial payment and will be eligible for milestone payments of up to $115 million if the partnership programs achieve certain research, development, and commercial milestones.
Our mission at Biogen is clear: we are neuroscience pioneers. Biogen discovers, develops, and delivers innovative therapies for people suffering from severe neurological and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as related therapeutic adjacencies, around the world. Biogen was founded in 1978 by Charles Weissmann, Heinz Schaller, Kenneth Murray, and Nobel prize winners Walter Gilbert and Phillip Sharp as one of the world's first major biotechnology firms. Biogen currently has the leading portfolio of medicines for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, is the first approved treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, commercializes biosimilars of advanced biologics, and is focused on advancing research programs in multiple sclerosis and neuroimmunology, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia, neuromuscular disorders, movement disorders, ophthalmology, and neuropsychiatry.
About Ginkgo Bioworks
Ginkgo is building a platform for program cells in the same way as we program machines. The platform is enabling the growth of biotechnology across a wide range of markets, from food and agriculture to industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Ginkgo is also closely involved in a variety of COVID-19 response efforts, such as community testing, epidemiological tracing, vaccine development, and therapeutics discovery.