Samsung Biologics, Vir Biotechnology team up to fight COVID-19

BioSpectrum Asia | April 13, 2020

South Korea based Samsung Biologics and US based Vir Biotechnology, Inc. have announced a manufacturing agreement under which Samsung Biologics will perform large scale manufacturing services Vir's SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody (mAb) program. Vir's lead SRS-CoV-2 mAb development candidates, VIR-7831 and VIR-7832, have demonstrated high affinity for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and are highly potent in neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 in live-virus cellular assays. Vir plans to proceed directly into a phase 2 clinical trial within the next three to five months. This agreement builds on Vir's previously announced manufacturing agreement with WuXi Biologics and its letter of intent with Biogen, Inc. Under the deal valued at approximately $362 million, Samsung Biologics is expected to commence its manufacturing as early as October with the first engineering run, with potential commercial batches to be manufactured starting in 2021 in Plant 3. The parties will continue to negotiate additional terms in a definitive agreement and will use best efforts to execute a definitive agreement before July 31, 2020.

Spotlight

Watch this simple yet engaging video on the basics of drugs, drug targets and molecular interaction. It is illustrative and informative, and you will definitely enjoy watching it. To learn more about drugs and drug targets, Bentham Science Publishers offer a number of journals, such as Current Drug Targets, Current Drug Therapy, Current Drug Metabolism, Current Drug Safety etc.

Spotlight

Watch this simple yet engaging video on the basics of drugs, drug targets and molecular interaction. It is illustrative and informative, and you will definitely enjoy watching it. To learn more about drugs and drug targets, Bentham Science Publishers offer a number of journals, such as Current Drug Targets, Current Drug Therapy, Current Drug Metabolism, Current Drug Safety etc.

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MEDTECH

Flamingo Therapeutics Expands Alliance with Ionis Pharmaceuticals to Develop RNA-targeted Therapies for Oncology

Flamingo Therapeutics, Inc. | September 09, 2021

Flamingo Therapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company pioneering RNA-targeting therapies in oncology, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Ionis Pharmaceuticals to develop RNA-targeted therapies to treat various forms of cancer. This alliance is an expansion of an existing collaboration with Ionis on the FLAME™ discovery engine, following Flamingo's Series A financing in 2020. The agreement and discovery alliance will leverage Flamingo's deep expertise in oncology and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in combination with Ionis' expertise in RNA-targeted drug discovery and development to advance candidates against targets considered undruggable with traditional approaches. Flamingo's pipeline will include three clinical-stage programs from Ionis, inhibitors of STAT-3, Androgen Receptor (AR) and IRF4, and one preclinical-stage program that targets MALAT1, a well-characterized lncRNA target. Flamingo will also advance its proprietary discovery engine, FLAME (Flamingo LncRNA Antisense Mining Engine), that addresses lncRNAs, a large and untapped class of disease-causing targets within the dark matter of the human genome. "We're thrilled to strengthen our relationship with Ionis who has been at the forefront of RNA-targeted therapy for thirty years," said Michael Garrett, Chief Executive Officer of Flamingo. "We believe the combination of Ionis' leadership in RNA and our cutting-edge lncRNA discovery engine will expand the opportunities for applying RNA-targeted approaches to oncology." "We are pleased that Flamingo is leveraging their core strengths in developing novel cancer medicines to advance innovative Ionis-discovered oncology therapies where there is an unmet need," said Brett P. Monia, Ph.D., Ionis' chief executive officer. In connection with the alliance, Rob MacLeod, Ph.D., VP, Oncology Research & Development of Ionis, will serve as Chief Scientific Officer of Flamingo. Under the terms of the agreement, Ionis is eligible to receive milestone payments and royalties on future product sales of the STAT3, AR, IRF4 and MALAT1 programs. Flamingo retains full rights to its FLAME platform and all lncRNA programs outside of MALAT1. Flamingo Therapeutics was founded by VIB, Ghent University, KU Leuven, the University of Michigan, Kurma Partners and PMV, based on pioneering work led by Professor Jean-Christophe Marine (VIB-KU Leuven), Professor Pieter Mestdagh (Ghent University) and Professor Arul Chinnaiyan (University of Michigan). These scientific teams broke new ground on non-coding RNA genes in cancer and were among the first to show a role for lncRNAs as disease drivers in oncology. About Flamingo Therapeutics Flamingo is pioneering RNA-targeted therapies for oncology with state-of-the art chemistries. Flamingo has the most advanced antisense RNA-targeting oncology portfolio with three clinical programs targeting undruggable transcription factors and splice variants. To support and expand its pipeline, Flamingo has a proprietary discovery engine, FLAME™ (Flamingo LncRNA Antisense Mining Engine), that addresses lncRNAs, a large and untapped class of disease-causing targets within the "dark matter" of the human genome. The Company was founded in 2020 based on pioneering work in the field of lncRNAs in oncology with our academic partners at VIB, KU Leuven, Ghent University and the University of Michigan. Flamingo has a discovery alliance with Ionis Pharmaceuticals and is supported by well-known biotechnology investors Kurma Partners and PMV. The company is headquartered in Belgium with additional operations in San Diego, CA.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

X-Therma Closes Oversubscribed $13M Series A Financing Led by LOREA AG

X-Therma Inc. | December 23, 2021

X-Therma Inc., a biotechnology company developing breakthrough technology for regenerative medicine and organ preservation - has closed an oversubscribed $13M Series A funding round. The financing is led by LOREA AG, an entrepreneur-operated investment firm, with participation from Zen11 Holdings, Graphene Ventures, VU Venture Partners, 2b AHEAD Ventures, Methuselah Foundation, Catalytic Impact Foundation, along with notable return angel investors. X-Therma’s technology, a nontoxic biopreservation platform enabled by biomimetic peptoid, is transforming global accessibility to organ transplantation, as well as enabling “off-the-shelf” cell and gene therapy products and engineered tissues by providing safe & effective chemically defined cryopreservation that is DMSO-, serum-, and protein-free. More and Better Organ Transplants “We’re excited about the transformative impact of X-Therma’s technology and potential to better meet society’s demands of safely and successfully transplanting organs across the globe,” says Dr. Christoph Swarovski, owner and founder of LOREA AG. “Our conviction in this technology was inspired by the world’s dire need of a better solution for organ transport and we are fortunate to help X-Therma bring its vision to fruition.” X-Therma has made a quantum leap in demonstrating a significant extension of organ shelf-life from a few hours to a few days in collaboration with world-leading surgeon, Dr. Gerald Brandacher at Johns Hopkins University. Less than 10% of the worldwide demand for transplantable organs is being met. Despite many improvements in surgical techniques and immunosuppression, innovations to extend the time window for safe and reliable organ preservation have, until now, fallen short. X-Therma’s turn-key solution XT-ViVo® and TimeSeal® in organ preservation removes this time constraint bottleneck without changing the peri-transplant workflow. “Most organs are transported in a cooler filled with ice at 4°C. This provides very limited time to deliver organs to patients before they perish or to provide accurate matching. Our chemistry encodes specific protein-like functions into a synthetic molecule to shape ice crystals and prevent further growth into a detrimental size. This fundamentally enables us to safely store organs at sub-zero temperature, which improves transplantation from both organ accessibility and quality perspectives with extended time.” Dr. Mark Kline, CTO & Co-founder of X-Therma “Off-the-Shelf” Regenerative Medicine Currently, many regenerative medicine companies suffer significant logistical barriers to scale up and from the proteomic and epigenetic changes induced by DMSO, decreasing therapy efficacy. Cryopreservatives used today are toxic to cells which can lead to cell damage, reduced product yields, and inefficiencies in production. X-Therma’s flagship product XT-Thrive®, a DMSO-, Serum-, Protein-free and chemically defined cryopreservation solution directly plugs into the current CMC workflow, resolves current bottlenecks in the cell manufacturing process, and enables “off-the-shelf" living medicines, and now is receiving hyper-growth customer demand. “Founded with the mission to enable global organ banking, our platform technology has expanded to all living medicines. Biopreservation is crucial in the evolving regenerative medicine market. It underlies the sourcing of cellular material, manufacture, storage, and delivery of final products,” says Dr. Xiaoxi Wei, CEO & Co-Founder of X-Therma. “Since the onset of the pandemic, the demand for advanced biopharma cold chain solutions has become extremely hot. COVID vaccines have accelerated this growth and exposed cold-chain weaknesses. From day one, our vision has been focused on the heavy lifting of fundamental scientific breakthroughs to solve the soon-to-be bottlenecks still in existence due to a lack of innovation. Our technology supports cell and gene therapy CMC by greatly improving the critical cell preservation process that can make-or-break the delivery of a successful medicine.” With this new round of funding, the company plans to scale commercialization of XT-Thrive® to meet customer demand for cGMP-grade cell preservation products aimed at Cell and Gene Therapies and tissue engineering users in chemistry, manufacturing, and control processes. Moreover, through its continued partnership with Johns Hopkins University, X-Therma will expand collaboration efforts worldwide and accelerate the regulatory process for organ preservation. X-Therma will also continue to expand its multi-disciplinary team, filling positions remotely in its San Francisco Bay Area headquarters and Austria subsidiary. About X-Therma Inc. X-Therma is headquartered in Richmond, part of the San Francisco Bay Area, with research centers in Richmond and Berkeley, and now has expanded to Europe in Austria. X-Therma pioneers ground-breaking cold chain technology via a convergent biopreservation platform, to advance Regenerative Medicine and make available safe and on-demand organs, engineered tissues, cell & gene therapies, vaccines, and beyond to patients in need. X-Therma’s technology could be a paradigm shift that makes worldwide organ sharing possible and eliminates organ waiting lists across the globe. X-Therma has been a selected Industrial User at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and received over $10M contracts and grant support from the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

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RESEARCH

PostEra announces $260M multi-target strategic AI Lab collaboration with Pfizer

PostEra | January 12, 2022

PostEra, a biotechnology company specializing in machine learning for preclinical drug discovery, announced the expansion of the company's existing strategic collaboration with Pfizer. The expanded multi-target research program will establish an AI Lab where PostEra and Pfizer jointly advance multiple drug discovery programs with an initial focus in oncology and COVID-19 antiviral therapeutics. The AI Lab will leverage novel machine learning for medicinal chemistry built upon Pfizer's data, and PostEra's pioneering innovations in generative chemistry and synthesis-aware design. PostEra will receive an upfront payment of $13M and is eligible to receive additional milestone payments totalling up to $248M should all milestones be achieved, in addition to tiered royalties on any approved products arising out of the collaboration. The AI Lab will tightly integrate drug discovery with technology development to ensure a continuous feedback loop that refines both the process and predictions from the platform. The vision of the AI Lab is to combine Pfizer's expertise and data with PostEra's technology to advance these drug discovery programs, while also producing an integrated state-of-the-art platform to be deployed across Pfizer's in-house, preclinical drug discovery efforts. "We think the best way to build leading technology is to have its development tightly integrated with live drug discovery programs", said Dr. Alpha Lee, Chief Scientific Officer of PostEra. "We're pleased that we are expanding the existing collaboration to do exactly this and to reap the AI advantage in improving preclinical drug discovery," Aaron Morris, CEO of PostEra "At Pfizer, we believe digital technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, hold great potential to aid the discovery of novel approaches to prevent, cure, and treat disease for patients in need," said Charlotte Allerton, Head of Medicine Design, Pfizer. "We're excited to extend our collaboration with PostEra to further build on our current capabilities." The company today also announced its $24M Series A financing. The new funding will enable PostEra to further expand its partnered drug discovery programs, initiate internal drug discovery programs, as well as further develop its AI-first medicinal chemistry platform. About PostEra PostEra was founded in 2019 and its technology is built on pioneering academic research done by its founding scientists. PostEra's technology addresses some of the key challenges in drug discovery R&D by integrating molecular design with chemical synthesis. PostEra advances small molecule programs through partnerships with biopharma, working on its own internal pipeline, and also offering some of its synthesis technology via its Manifold web platform. PostEra also launched and now helps lead the world's largest open-science drug discovery effort; COVID Moonshot.

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