Portable DNA sequencer helps identify severity of Lassa outbreak in Nigeria

medical Xpress | January 04, 2019

An international team of researchers has found that it is possible to use portable DNA sequencers to learn more about a viral outbreak as the outbreak is occurring. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their analysis of Lassa DNA in afflicted patients during a recent outbreak in Nigeria, and what they found. Nahid Bhadelia with the Boston University School of Medicine and National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories has written a Perspective piece on the work done by the team in the same journal issue. Medical scientists continue to worry that a major pandemic could becoming—one that could kill millions or even billions the world over. Because of this, scientists continue to look for new tools to identify potential pandemic viruses and to stop them. One such area of study has focused on quickly identifying a virus, and more importantly, finding out if it has evolved into a new strain that is more dangerous. Currently, the main technique is DNA sequencing, but quite often, viral outbreaks get their start in places where there are no labs with DNA sequencing capabilities. That has led to the development of small, portable devices that can be quickly deployed to an area of interest and used immediately.

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There is no doubt that the effort and cost to bring a drug successfully to market is significant. In addition, once approved, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies face intense competitive pressures including crowded marketplaces of newly approved drugs. In the years from 2005-2011, the median time from the first and second entrant in a newly approved drug class was 2.3 years compared with 4.7 years from 1998-2004. 

Spotlight

There is no doubt that the effort and cost to bring a drug successfully to market is significant. In addition, once approved, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies face intense competitive pressures including crowded marketplaces of newly approved drugs. In the years from 2005-2011, the median time from the first and second entrant in a newly approved drug class was 2.3 years compared with 4.7 years from 1998-2004. 

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Cellares and Poseida Therapeutics Join Forces to Speed Up Cell Therapy Manufacturing

Cellares Corporation | July 16, 2021

Cellares Corporation, a life sciences technology company that has pioneered a revolutionary automated approach to cell therapy manufacturing announced today that Poseida Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that uses proprietary genetic engineering platform technologies to create cell and gene therapeutics with the potential to cure, has joined its Early Access Partnership Program (EAPP). Poseida joins PACT Pharma and academic partner Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as the third entity to join Cellares' EAPP. Cellares launched the EAPP in 2020 to provide participants awareness and early access to Cellares' Cell Shuttle, a next-generation cell therapy manufacturing platform that enables closed, automated, and scalable cell therapy production. Poseida's involvement in the initiative adds to the Cell Shuttle's development, range of usage, and applicability by providing insight and experience in manufacturing processes for various autologous and allogeneic cell therapies. Poseida is presently testing two autologous CAR-T product candidates in the clinic: P-BCMA-101 for relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and P-PSMA-101 for metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. The firm, which completed an initial public offering in July 2020, is also developing off-the-shelf versions of these treatments and TCR-T, anti-c-kit CAR-T, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), genetically modified hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), and NK cells. In addition, Carl June, M.D., an immunotherapy pioneer and renowned oncologist who advised Cellares on creating the Cell Shuttle has just joined Poseida's Immuno-Oncology Scientific Advisory Board. Poseida will assess the Cell Shuttle prototypes and give statistics and written comments related to their function and performance as part of Cellares' EAPP. In addition, user studies will be conducted to assess the Cell Shuttle's hardware and software, product requirements, release criteria, and process processes to ensure product-market fit. About The Cell Shuttle The Cell Shuttle is a flexible and scalable automated and closed end-to-end production solution that allows clients to execute the precise procedures required for their cell therapy. Compared to presently existing cell therapy manufacturing methods, this next-generation platform allows for a threefold decrease in process failure rates and the ability to produce 10+ patient doses in parallel, improving manufacturing scalability by order of magnitude. For most processes, this will reduce per-patient manufacturing costs by up to 70%. About Cellares Corporation Cellares is rethinking cell therapy manufacturing and accelerating access to life-saving cell therapies. The business is working on a one-of-a-kind approach to solving the difficulties of generating cell therapies that are cheaper and broadly accessible to people in need. Cellares' proprietary platform, the Cell Shuttle, eliminates the need for biopharma companies, academic research centers, and CDMOs to choose between a manufacturing platform that is semi-automated but lacks workflow flexibility or one that provides customization but lacks the end-to-end automation required to manufacture at scale. The business is based in South San Francisco, California.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Valneva and IDT Biologika Announce Collaboration for Production of Inactivated COVID-19 Vaccine VLA2001

Valneva SE, IDT Biologika | November 30, 2021

Valneva SE, a specialty vaccine company, and IDT Biologika announced their collaboration for the production of Valneva’s inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidate VLA2001. This follows last week’s announcement that Valneva signed an Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission to supply up to 60 million doses of VLA2001, over two years. Under the collaboration, IDT Biologika will produce VLA2001’s drug substance at its Biosafety Level 3 facilities in Dessau-Roßlau, Germany, in addition to Valneva’s manufacturing site in Livingston, Scotland. “IDT is a well-established partner within Valneva’s manufacturing network. As such we are extremely pleased to extend this partnership to supply VLA2001. This collaboration will help ensure our inactivated vaccine is available for rapid deployment as we continue to believe that our differentiated vaccine candidate can make an important contribution to the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.” Thomas Lingelbach, Chief Executive Officer of Valneva Dr. Jürgen Betzing, Chief Executive Officer of IDT Biologika, added, “This is great news for our company. This assignment shows the importance of the role played by IDT in the fight against COVID-19. It is a great achievement and demonstrates the trust that Valneva has placed in us and our employees. The expansion of our production capacity combined with our expertise were key factors in the choice of IDT.” Valneva has continued to review its manufacturing strategy following discussions with the UK Government in the summer and again after the termination of the UK contract in September 2021. Valneva plans to operate a combination of external and internal production of VLA2001 and will further review its manufacturing plans based on demand. The Company’s sites in Livingston, Scotland and Solna, Sweden will continue to form part of the Company’s core manufacturing strategy. Valneva reported positive Phase 3 results for VLA2001 in October 20211. Delivery of the vaccine in Europe is currently expected to begin in April 2022, subject to approval by the European Medicines Agency which is expected to start a rolling review of VLA2001 shortly. About VLA2001 VLA2001 is currently the only whole virus, inactivated, adjuvanted vaccine candidate against COVID-19 in clinical trials in Europe. It is intended for active immunization of at-risk populations to prevent carriage and symptomatic infection with COVID-19 during the ongoing pandemic and potentially later for routine vaccination including addressing new variants. VLA2001 may also be suited for boosting, as repeat booster vaccinations have been shown to work well with whole virus inactivated vaccines. VLA2001 is produced on Valneva’s established Vero-cell platform, leveraging the manufacturing technology for Valneva’s licensed Japanese encephalitis vaccine, IXIARO®. VLA2001 consists of inactivated whole virus particles of SARS-CoV-2 with high S-protein density, in combination with two adjuvants, alum and CpG 1018. This adjuvant combination has consistently induced higher antibody levels in preclinical experiments than alum-only formulations and shown a shift of the immune response towards Th1. CpG 1018 adjuvant, supplied by Dynavax Technologies Corporation (Nasdaq: DVAX), is a component of the US FDA- and EMA-approved HEPLISAV-B® vaccine. The manufacturing process for VLA2001, which has already been upscaled to final industrial scale, includes chemical inactivation to preserve the native structure of the S-protein. VLA2001 is expected to conform with standard cold chain requirements. About Valneva SE Valneva is a specialty vaccine company focused on the development and commercialization of prophylactic vaccines for infectious diseases with significant unmet medical need. The Company takes a highly specialized and targeted approach to vaccine development and then applies its deep understanding of vaccine science to develop prophylactic vaccines addressing these diseases. Valneva has leveraged its expertise and capabilities both to successfully commercialize two vaccines and to rapidly advance a broad range of vaccine candidates into and through the clinic, including candidates against Lyme disease, the chikungunya virus and COVID-19. About IDT Biologika IDT Biologika is an innovative biotech company with a successful history dating back 100 years. On the basis of modern technologies and high levels of expertise, we support customers in the development and manufacture of innovative virus vaccines, gene and immune therapy products as well as biologics employed worldwide as protection against diseases. German sites are the BioPharmaPark in Dessau-Roßlau and Magdeburg. In the US, the IDT Corporation has a manufacturing site for clinical test samples in Rockville, Maryland.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Amyris Partners with Inscripta to Enhance Development of Sustainable Ingredients Using the Onyx™ Genome Engineering Platform

Amyris | October 06, 2021

Amyris, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMRS), a leading synthetic biotechnology company active in the Clean Health and Beauty markets through its consumer brands, and a top supplier of sustainable and natural ingredients, today announced that Amyris has licensed the Onyx genome engineering platform from Inscripta, a leading gene editing technology company. Amyris and Inscripta will also explore joint research and development opportunities to expand the Onyx platform functionality. Amyris' product development and formulation team uses a proprietary Lab-to-Market™ operating system to develop and scale a growing portfolio of sustainable ingredients. The Onyx platform automates benchtop biofoundry activity and will bring greater genetic diversity and value to Amyris' ingredient development pipeline, complementing Amyris' existing Lab-to-Market operating system with the goal of improving efficiency and reducing timelines for the development of future molecules. To date, Amyris has successfully commercialized 13 sustainable ingredients, which are formulated in over 20,000 products and used by over 300 million consumers, demonstrating the growing demand for sustainable products with clean and effective ingredients. Automated, high-throughput gene editing is revolutionizing the writing of genomes the way next-generation sequencing transformed the reading of genomes. Inscripta is the first company to deliver an integrated and intuitive benchtop platform that will expand access to scalable, robust genome engineering and help scientists develop solutions to some of today's most pressing challenges. "Amyris has shown the world how new products can be made more sustainable through biology. Their team has high proficiency in utilizing cutting-edge technology, and we are excited they will be pioneering the use of our platform," said Sri Kosaraju, President and CEO of Inscripta. "We have great regard for Amyris' mission, and we are committed to seeing the Onyx platform become a substantial contributor to new clean chemistry products in the future." "The Onyx platform offers significant potential for generating greater genetic diversity in our projects, which we expect to lead to more efficient product innovation," said Sunil Chandran, Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Amyris. "Inscripta's platform seamlessly integrates with our own and opens up new experimentation avenues for our scientists to continue bringing unique bio-based products to customers. We pride ourselves on continuous innovation and expect Onyx to help us expand our pipeline, while achieving lower costs and reducing time to market." For more information about Amyris visit amyris.com and to learn about Onyx, visit www.inscripta.com/products. About Inscripta Inscripta is a life science technology company enabling scientists to solve some of today's most pressing challenges with the first benchtop system for genome editing. The company's automated Onyx platform, consisting of an instrument, consumables, assays, and software, makes CRISPR-based genome engineering accessible to any research lab. Inscripta supports its customers around the world from facilities in Boulder, Colorado; San Diego and Pleasanton, California; and Copenhagen, Denmark. To learn more, visit Inscripta.com and follow @InscriptaInc. About Amyris Amyris (Nasdaq: AMRS) is a science and technology leader in the research, development and production of sustainable ingredients for the Clean Health & Beauty and Flavors & Fragrances markets. Amyris uses an impressive array of exclusive technologies, including state-of-the-art machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence. Our ingredients are included in over 20,000 products from the world's top brands, reaching more than 300 million consumers. Amyris is proud to own and operate a family of consumer brands - all built around its No Compromise® promise of clean ingredients: Biossanceâ clean beauty skincare, Pipetteâ clean baby skincare, Purecane™, a zero-calorie sweetener naturally derived from sugarcane, Terasanaâ clean skincare treatment, Costa Brazil luxury skincare, OLIKA hygiene and wellness, Rose Inc.™ clean color cosmetics and JVN™ clean haircare.

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