Researchers report successful measurement of vitamin D in human hair

Biotechnology News | February 22, 2019

A new study by researchers from Trinity College Dublin and St James's Hospital has reported for the first time that vitamin D can be measured in human hair. The paper has been published in the international, peer-reviewed journal of human nutrition, Nutrients. Vitamin D deficiency has reached epidemic proportions worldwide, with over 1 billion people estimated to be affected. Deficiency has been linked with bone health, but it could also be a risk factor for depression, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, diabetes, and cancer. At present, the best way of assessing vitamin D is to measure the concentration of vitamin D in the blood. However, this can be painful, requires expertise and training along with hygienic conditions/equipment so getting a sample is not always workable. In addition, the blood result represents vitamin D status at a single time point, which is problematic because vitamin D changes with the seasons: it's not uncommon for someone to be sufficient in vitamin D in the summertime, and very deficient in the winter. This means that a single snapshot of vitamin D status is not able to provide information on vitamin D year-round.

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Spotlight

Organisms and biology are immensely complex, and to truly understand disease mechanisms, heritability, potential diagnoses, and development of therapies, we need access to more genomic information. Linked-Reads constructs long-range information from short-reads to provide access to hidden and inaccessible information. With Linked-Reads, researchers now have the power to resolve ambiguous single nucleotide variants, provide phasing and haplotype information, identify structural variants, and assemble genomes without the need for a reference sequence.

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MEDTECH

Synthego Launches Engineered Cell Libraries to Validate Targets with Speed and Accelerate Drug Discovery

SYNTHEGO | August 03, 2022

Synthego, the genome engineering company, announced the launch of Engineered Cell Libraries, a novel offering that further enables access to CRISPR by providing arrayed CRISPR-edited cells for direct use in functional screening assays. The innovative solution leverages Synthego’s Eclipse™ Platform. This high-throughput cell engineering platform delivers cell-based models for disease research by providing highly predictable CRISPR-engineered cells at scale through the integration of engineering, bioinformatics, and proprietary science. Synthego’s Engineered Cell Libraries provide unparalleled speed, scalability, and efficiency to accelerate the drug discovery process by enabling a faster path between experimental design and execution. As the newest addition to Synthego's Engineered Cells product line, the offering is a custom arrayed library of multi-guide™ knockout cell pools (immortalized or iPSC) delivered ready-made to researchers, efficiently enabling them to bypass the need for equipment and reagent sourcing, transfection, generation of an extensive CRISPR library, and hiring and training of staff. This allows researchers to overcome common hurdles associated with CRISPR-based target discovery and focus specifically on the science. “Arrayed screening approaches are more sensitive, compatible with a broader assortment of downstream assays, and can yield data that is more readily interpretable than the more commonly used pooled approach but are underutilized due to lack of infrastructure and limited bandwidth. With Engineered Cell Libraries, Synthego continues to provide transformative solutions for accelerated drug discovery which ultimately can bring a wider range of therapeutics to market faster.” Travis Maures, Synthego’s Chief Technology Officer With Engineered Cell Libraries, scientists specify the human or mouse cell type (Immortalized or iPSC available at launch) and gene targets they desire to knockout to generate a custom “Knockout Cell Library.” The cells are then edited on Synthego’s Eclipse Platform, which handles guide design, cell line optimization, editing through transfection, and assessment of editing efficiencies, so cells are ready to screen upon arrival. Engineered Cell Libraries on the Eclipse Platform additionally benefit customers with Scalability and flexibility - Engineered Cell Libraries allow researchers to maximize their screening power and identify more targets earlier in the screening process. Predictability and transparency - Synthego’s multi-guide™ technology achieves reliably high knockout efficiencies so researchers can confidently proceed with their screens. Cell engineering expertise and support - Synthego uses its expertise to bring automation innovation that provides greater consistency in outcomes and scalability. Synthego’s Eclipse Platform and Engineered Cell Libraries enable a wide range of applications in research and development across various disease areas and research disciplines such as oncology and neurology. Engineered Cell Libraries were employed in a recent study that used genetic screening to identify host factors that either facilitate or inhibit infection by SARS-CoV-2 and that could potentially be targeted with existing drugs that have been approved for other indications. “We were able to quickly combine our proteomic expertise with Synthego's genome engineering capabilities in a matter of weeks,” said Nevan J. Krogan, Director, Quantitative Biosciences Institute, University of California, San Francisco. “Normally, work such as this would take many years. We were able to quickly pinpoint which human genes are important for infection, and that allowed us to jump to which ones if we were able to drug them, could have a positive pharmacological effect on SARS-CoV-2 infection. That whole pipeline allowed us to identify several potential drug candidates, several of which we're still looking at.” Ultimately, Synthego’s goal is to enable scientists to spend less time thinking about method development and more time running their functional assays. The addition of Engineered Cell Libraries is driving impact in biopharma research and development. ABOUT SYNTHEGO Synthego was founded to revolutionize genome engineering technology, helping translate genomics into the clinic and ultimately making engineered biological therapies accessible to all patients. The company leverages machine learning, automation, and gene editing to build platforms for science at scale. With its foundations in engineering disciplines, the company’s platforms vertically integrate proprietary hardware, software, bioinformatics, chemistries, and molecular biology to advance both basic research and therapeutic development programs. With its technologies cited in more than a thousand peer-reviewed publications and utilized by thousands of commercial and academic researchers and therapeutic drug developers, Synthego is at the forefront of innovation enabling the next generation of medicines by delivering genome editing at an unprecedented scale.

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DIAGNOSTICS

Oxford BioTherapeutics Announces Research Collaboration with ImmunoGen to Develop Novel Antibody-Drug Conjugates

Oxford BioTherapeutics | June 14, 2022

Oxford BioTherapeutics (OBT), a clinical stage oncology company with a pipeline of immuno-oncology and Antibody Drug Conjugate (ADC)-based therapies, today announced a multi-year collaboration to research, develop and commercialize novel, first-in-class ADCs with ImmunoGen (IMGN), a leader in the expanding field of ADCs for the treatment of cancer. The companies will utilize ImmunoGen's linker-payload technology directed to novel targets identified via OBT's proprietary OGAP® discovery platform. The companies will support these R&D efforts through joint funding and by combining their respective proprietary technologies. "I am very enthusiastic about our new partnership with ImmunoGen, a leader in the development of ADCs," said Christian Rohlff, PhD, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Oxford BioTherapeutics. "The company's expertise, in combination with the unique targets from our OGAP® database, provides potential to strengthen our respective drug pipelines with novel and highly differentiated ADCs for cancer patients in need of novel therapeutic options." As part of the agreement, OBT will receive an upfront payment from ImmunoGen, reflecting OBT's preclinical programs to be included in the partnership. In addition, once antibodies generated by OBT have been coupled with ImmunoGen's proprietary linker-payload technology, each company will have the opportunity to select one or more development programs to further develop on its own. Each company is eligible to receive milestone payments based on the achievement of pre-specified development, regulatory, and commercial milestones, as well as tiered royalties as a percentage of worldwide commercial sales, with respect to each program selected by the other company. Once a company has chosen a given program, it will be solely responsible for all R&D costs associated with the specific program. "OBT has demonstrated expertise in identifying novel targets for the development of specific antibodies – two key components to generating successful ADCs," said Stacy Coen, ImmunoGen's Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer. "This expertise, combined with ImmunoGen's portfolio of cancer-killing payloads and linkers, will be instrumental as both companies work to develop novel ADCs designed to address cancers with high unmet need. We look forward to working with OBT as we expand and diversify our investment in ADC research capabilities, deepen our pipeline, and transition to a fully-integrated oncology company." ImmunoGen's portfolio is comprised of next-generation maytansinoid, DNA-acting, and novel camptothecin toxins and proprietary linkers. This collaboration will utilize novel targets identified by OBT combined with ImmunoGen's proprietary toxins and associated linkers. OBT has clinical experience with ImmunoGen's ADC platform and DM4 payload, which is utilized in OBT's lead program OBT076, an ADC currently in clinical trials as a monotherapy, as well as in combination with checkpoint inhibitors, in patients with advanced or refractory solid tumors, including gastric, bladder, ovarian, and lung cancer. About Oxford BioTherapeutics Oxford BioTherapeutics is a clinical stage oncology company based in Oxford, UK; San Jose, CA and Morristown, NJ, USA; with a pipeline of first-in-class immuno-oncology (IO) and antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) based therapies designed to fulfil major unmet patient needs in cancer therapeutics. OBT's lead clinical program, OBT076, an ADC utilizing an Immunogen toxin, initiated expansion in a U.S. Clinical Trial in 2021 in patients with advanced or refractory solid tumors, including gastric, bladder, ovarian and lung cancer, where CD205 is overexpressed. Infiltration of tumors by immunosuppressive cells correlates with adverse outcomes (lower progression free and overall survival), suggesting that this process contributes to the progression of several cancers.

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MEDICAL

Invenshure Launches MEKanistic Therapeutics™

Invenshure | June 03, 2022

Venture studio Invenshure announces the launch of MEKanistic Therapeutics, a biotechnology company redefining precision oncology. Co-inventors and pioneers in the MEK inhibitor field, Judith Sebolt-Leopold, PhD, and Christopher Whitehead, PhD, MBA, have rationally designed a drug that blocks two, key pathways (EGFR and PI3K) used to signal cancer cell growth, with a single molecule. In preclinical studies, this first-in-class dual inhibitor shows unparalleled tumor shrinkage without the toxicity generally associated with current kinase inhibitors. MEKanistic is using cutting edge computational tools to not only understand how these pathways work, but also design medications that perfectly fit within those sites to inhibit the spread of cancer. We have two unique advantages. First, our lead drug's expanded therapeutic window means dramatically reduced side effects for cancer patients. Second, when it's paired with existing cancer therapies, our drug makes them much more effective, We are excited to partner with Pfizer Global R&D veterans, Drs. Leopold and Whitehead, to propel this important technology forward into clinical trials." Danny Cunagin, CEO of MEKanistic. MEKanistic will be launching a round of funding in the coming weeks to support the translation of our lead candidate (MTX-531) towards IND approval later this year with the anticipation of initiation of Phase 1 clinical trials in early 2023. MTX-531's initial application targets head and neck cancers with 900,000 cases worldwide per year. Ultimately, this drug has possible future applications for colon/rectal, esophageal, pancreatic, and some breast cancers. Our work could potentially impact millions of people each year." Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Sebolt-Leopold. About Invenshure™ Invenshure is a venture studio that scours university research labs for novel and disruptive technologies ready for commercialization. Invenshure partners with top scientists, physicians, and researchers from the most trusted institutions in healthcare and technology. The company focuses on high-growth sectors including biotech, genomics, healthcare IT, diagnostics, cloud computing technologies, and wireless technologies.

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