Research creates DNA-like molecule to aid search for alien life

Phys.org | February 22, 2019

In a research breakthrough funded by NASA, scientists have synthesized a molecular system that, like DNA, can store and transmit information. This unprecedented feat suggests there could be an alternative to DNA-based life, as we know it on Earth – a genetic system for life that may be possible on other worlds. This new molecular system, which is not a new life form, suggests scientists looking for life beyond Earth may need to rethink what they are looking for. The research appears in Thursday's edition of Science Magazine. DNA is a complex molecule that stores and transmits genetic information, is passed from parent to offspring in all living organisms on Earth, and its components include four key ingredients called nucleotides – all standard for life as we know it. But, what about life on other worlds? "Life detection is an increasingly important goal of NASA's planetary science missions, and this new work will help us to develop effective instruments and experiments that will expand the scope of what we look for," said Lori Glaze, acting director of NASA's Planetary Science Division.

Spotlight

Most secrets of the insect world are still unexplored. The Business Area Bioresources of the IME lead by Prof. Vilcinskas is dedicated to identifying new lead structures by using organisms as biological resource, focusing on innovative strategies for applications in medicine, agriculture and industrial biotechnology.

Spotlight

Most secrets of the insect world are still unexplored. The Business Area Bioresources of the IME lead by Prof. Vilcinskas is dedicated to identifying new lead structures by using organisms as biological resource, focusing on innovative strategies for applications in medicine, agriculture and industrial biotechnology.

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AI

eureKARE and DNAlytics Form Partnership to Develop a Proprietary AI Platform

eureKARE | July 07, 2021

eureKARE, a pioneering new company focused on financing and building next-generation biotechnology companies in the disruptive fields of the microbiome and synthetic biology, today announced an agreement with DNAlytics, a Belgian company applying data sciences to healthcare, to develop eureKARE's proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform to support its Biotech start-upstart-up studios, eureKARE. Unlike conventional start-upstart-up incubation methods, which begin with new science and then attempt to find an issue to address with it, eureKARE's methodology reverses this. eureKARE is committed to first finding an unmet need and then enlisting the best scientists and experts to provide an innovative solution to launch exciting new ventures. This process will be aided by eureKARE's one-of-a-kind AI platform, which will assist the business in identifying top academic researchers, locating new ideas and approaches in development, and scaling existing portfolio companies. About eureKARE eureKARE is a ground-breaking new company focusing on financing and establishing next-generation biotechnology start-ups in the microbiome and synthetic biology cutting-edge areas. eureKARE employs a two-step investing strategy to create long-term value. Through its biotech start-upstart-up studios eureKABIOME (Microbiome) and eureKASYNBIO, the company promotes translational research by developing and financing new companies based on high-value European science (Synthetic biology). In addition, the company aims to engage in more mature biotech companies. It will systematically propose to provide some liquidity to early investors, thus fulfilling a crucial demand in the European biotech sector. EureKARE has a fast-expanding portfolio of companies with the potential to disrupt the life sciences sector, led by its prominent founder, Alexandre Mouradian, and a pan-European team. About DNAlytics DNAlytics is based in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, specializing in data science for the healthcare sector, including data management, bioinformatics, biostatistics, Machine Learning, and other Artificial Intelligence methods. DNAlytics products are utilized in clinical research, the creation of biotech drugs and medical devices, public health studies, and the monitoring and optimization of bio-manufacturing processes. In addition, DNAlytics assists a wide range of clients and partners in extracting scientifically sound observations and practical conclusions from complex data sets.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Achiko AG Reports Breakthrough Calibration Results for its AptameX™ Covid-19 Rapid Test Technology

Achiko AG | January 15, 2022

Achiko AG is pleased to report that new optimizations during recent calibration testing of its affordable, non-invasive Covid-19 saliva-based rapid test AptameX™ correctly differentiated 100% of test samples up until a comparable reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction cycle threshold value of 33, indicating the system’s ability to deliver a > 97% sensitive and > 97% specific rapid test at a wider range of viral loads than most other rapid tests. “The data we’re reporting today shows that our technology allows for more sensitive and affordable tests compared to antigen-based tests. These high-fidelity calibration testing results suggest not only that AptameX has potential as a very compelling alternative to rapid antigenic tests, but also may be used as an accurate alternative in many mass market applications to slow and expensive RT-PCR technology. This is particularly important in Lower to Middle Income Countries where vaccination rates are lower and the leading testing technologies are impractically expensive for the vast majority of people.” Achiko CEO Steven Goh New data announced for the first time show that, after the recent improvements, AptameX achieved 100% sensitivity and specificity in a controlled experiment in 58 human Covid-19 samples. These gains both confirm AptameX’s ability to perform at low viral loads. The experiment was conducted in Indonesia using samples that were confirmed positive or negative for SARS-CoV-2. AptameX delivered a sensitivity of 100% across a range of CT values below 25 and CT values within the 25-33 range, which is important as the sensitivity of other rapid tests typically drops dramatically in the 25-33 CT value range. The results are consistent and extend earlier work in Spain and other testing in Indonesia. Achiko is looking forward to replicating the study internationally as it moves to complete its CE Mark. These results compare favorably to other testing technologies. Because of its accuracy, RT-PCR technology has become the gold standard for detecting Covid-19 infection. However, RT-PCR is often not the most practical for large-scale testing because it requires specialized equipment, is relatively slow and expensive. Using RT-PCR technology, scientists have established a benchmark for detecting Covid-19 infection: a healthy person is considered Covid-19 negative if their RT-PCR CT value is greater than 33. If, however, the CT value is below 33, the person is Covid-19 positive. Most rapid tests may tout a high sensitivity result where the CT values are under 25. However, according to Euro surveillance, more recent work on Omicron indicates the mean value for Covid-19 infection is around 28, hence the frequent reports of lower sensitivity in the majority of antigenic rapid test kits. Therefore, the AptameX result is important as it presents a viable alternative to other testing. "The improved sensitivity and specificity results announced by Achiko following completion of calibration testing on its SARS-CoV2 rapid test kit is a significant milestone,” stated AptameX inventor Dr. Michael Edel. "AptameX has the capability to meet the increasing global need for frequent mass testing that is fast, low-cost and non-invasive.” Furthermore, the AptameX test has completed and tested its first few hundred thousand kits in production and is now moving to produce one million kits a month. From there, the format is highly amenable to large-scale manufacturing and offers a considerable production cost advantage. Late last year the Company optimized the first-generation test kit using a simpler supply and manufacturing chain in Taiwan and Indonesia, that can easily be replicated to other geographies. In a matter of months and subject to financing, production capacity can rapidly be scaled to hundreds of millions of kits per month. The Company is looking to finance scale production primarily through trade finance. Production of the second-generation rapid test kits is underway and will ramp up further this quarter. Shipments of AptameX kits within Indonesia have been completed to meet prior sales orders as the Company expects to be able to provide 3-4 tests per months for 5% of Indonesia’s 270 million population by mid-year. Additionally, a CE Mark registration is expected in early 2022, allowing the Company to respond to inquiries and move towards commercialization in Europe, the Middle East and Asia and elsewhere. “It’s evident that as we move to the endemic phase of Covid-19, regular vaccinations and mass testing will become a part of our daily lives,” added Goh. “We are enormously pleased with the great results we are able to share today. They confirm the competitive positioning of the platform and the role we can play in getting us all back to a ‘normal’ life.” ABOUT ACHIKO AG Achiko AG is developing disruptive diagnostic solutions that puts people first. The company’s lead product is a rapid, reliable Covid-19 test with a companion app offering a user-friendly digital health passport. The test and companion app were launched in Indonesia in mid-2021 and an application for CE Mark approval in Europe will be submitted in 2022.

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GSK Starts Phase 2/3 Study of COVID-19 Antibody Treatment with Vir Biotechnology

GlobeNewswire | September 01, 2020

-Vir Biotechnology, Inc. (Nasdaq: VIR) and GlaxoSmithKline plc announced that the first patient was dosed last week in a Phase 2/3 study with VIR-7831 (also known as GSK4182136), a fully human anti-SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus-2) monoclonal antibody, for the early treatment of COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk of hospitalization. The aim of the COMET-ICE (COVID-19 Monoclonal antibody Efficacy Trial - Intent to Care Early) study, which will enroll approximately 1,300 patients worldwide who have early symptomatic infection, is to assess whether VIR-7831, as a single-dose monoclonal antibody, can prevent hospitalization due to COVID-19. Initial results may be available before the end of this year, with complete results expected in the first quarter of 2021, and potentially early access to the antibody treatment as soon as the first half of 2021. Last week’s initiation of the study follows the signing of a collaboration between the two companies in April 2020 to research and develop solutions for coronaviruses.

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