Scientists invent fast method for 'directed evolution' of molecules

phys.org | July 04, 2019

UNC School of Medicine scientists created a powerful new "directed evolution" technique for the rapid development of scientific tools and new treatments for many diseases. The scientists, whose breakthrough is reported in Cell, demonstrated the technique by evolving several proteins to perform precise new tasks, each time doing it in a matter of days. Existing methods of directed evolution are more laborious and time-consuming, and are typically applied in bacterial cells, which limits the usefulness of this technology for evolving proteins for use in human cells. Directed evolution is an artificial, sped up version of the evolution process in nature. The idea is to focus the evolutionary process on a single DNA sequence to make it perform a specified task. Directed evolution can be used, in principle, to make new therapeutics that work powerfully to stop diseases and have few or no side effects. The initial groundbreaking scientific work on directed evolution won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Spotlight

The benefit of therapeutic antibodies is their ability to be inherently more selective than traditional small-molecule pharmaceuticals through specific binding activities, lower toxicity, and higher efficacy. And the proof of their benefits is in the numbers: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved 68 such therapeutics by the beginning of 2017, and more than 50 are being evaluated in late-stage clinical studies for a range of indications.

Spotlight

The benefit of therapeutic antibodies is their ability to be inherently more selective than traditional small-molecule pharmaceuticals through specific binding activities, lower toxicity, and higher efficacy. And the proof of their benefits is in the numbers: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved 68 such therapeutics by the beginning of 2017, and more than 50 are being evaluated in late-stage clinical studies for a range of indications.

Related News

CELL AND GENE THERAPY

IndyGeneUS AI Secures Pathogen Sequencing for COVID-19 Genomic Surveillance Initiatives

IndyGeneUS AI | May 20, 2021

Through collaborations, IndyGeneUS AI has acquired genomic analysis and testing capabilities. This pathogen sequencing capacity has emerged at a critical moment in efforts to improve genomic surveillance and monitor COVID-19 variant strains across the continent. IndyGeneUS founder and CEO Yusuf Henriques emphasized the importance of this work. "COVID-19 and its variants pose a danger to the entire African continent, so we must act quickly. Our partners understand the urgency of this mission and are united with their cooperation." Next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based genotyping, targeted sequencing, and comprehensive bioinformatics analysis are among the capabilities. Comparative genomic analysis, disease genetics, epigenomics, and genome mapping are some of the applications of our capabilities. Bradford Wilson, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer at IndyGeneUS AI, said, "These capabilities are pivotal for the Continent and the future of precision medicine." "We are currently in talks with several large pharmaceutical firms that see the value of what we are developing to combat infectious and non-communicable diseases alike," he said. In less than a year, IndyGeneUS AI has partnered with Kenyan organizations such as the KAVI Institute of Clinical Research at the University of Nairobi and Afya Rekod. We've also teamed up with Encrypgen, which has created a blockchain-encrypted marketplace for commercializing insights gleaned from our repository and compensating participants who contribute data. IndyGeneUS has certainly understood the increasing need for infrastructure to sustain genomic surveillance activities by developing sequencing capabilities. Following the introduction of COVID-19 variant strains, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the African Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) established a network of laboratories last year to improve the continent's capacity to identify emerging variants of concern. More funding and infrastructure are needed for these initiatives. IndyGeneUS intends to accelerate sequencing capabilities across Africa by using public and private partnerships. About IndyGeneUS AI IndyGeneUS AI is a genomics company based in Nairobi is also developing the world's largest block-chain encrypted repository of African clinical and multi-omics data for disease prevention and diagnosis, drug discovery and development, clinical disease management, and the promotion of precision health equity. Mr. Yusuf Henriques, COO Dr. Wilmot Allen, and CSO Dr. Bradford Wilson formed IndyGeneUS. The company, which is owned by African Americans and Africans, has offices in Washington, DC, and a presence in South Africa through the Founder Institute. The Founder Institute is the world's largest pre-seed startup accelerator.

Read More

CELL AND GENE THERAPY

Moderna and Australia Announce Collaboration to Bring mRNA Manufacturing to Australia

Moderna | December 14, 2021

Moderna, Inc. a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA therapeutics and vaccines, announced an agreement in principle with the Australian Government to build a state-of-the-art messenger RNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Victoria, Australia including access to Moderna’s mRNA development engine. The contemplated framework would build the foundation to support Australia with direct access to rapid pandemic response capabilities and to provide access to Moderna’s vaccines in development for respiratory viruses. Moderna and the Australian government are committed to finalize the agreement. “I would like to thank the Australian and Victorian Governments for their collaboration and partnership. We are committed to global public health and while we are still responding to this pandemic, we also want to ensure we and society learn from it. As Moderna expands internationally, we are pleased to bring local mRNA manufacturing to Australia. We believe that this sustainable national business model will have global impact and implications.” Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna Moderna is committed to working with governments, health care professionals and other key stakeholders to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and future pathogens. Moderna expects to invest in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for the production of mRNA vaccines with the collaboration of the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments. The collaboration aims to provide Australians with access to a domestically manufactured portfolio of mRNA vaccines against respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, seasonal influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and potential other vaccines, pending licensure. Moderna expects that up to 100 million vaccine doses could be produced in Australia each year. The facility is intended to also be activated on an urgent basis to support Australia with direct access to rapid pandemic response capabilities. The Company is in discussion with other governments about potential collaborations built on a similar model. “We are excited to expand our presence and continue our long-term collaboration with the Australian and Victorian Governments,” said Michael Azrak, Moderna’s General Manager of Australia. “We look forward to completing the necessary discussions and starting work to develop onshore mRNA manufacturing capability here in Australia.” The agreement was announced today in Victoria by the Hon. Scott Morrison, MP Prime Minister of Australia. About Moderna In 10 years since its inception, Moderna has transformed from a science research-stage company advancing programs in the field of messenger RNA (mRNA), to an enterprise with a diverse clinical portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics across seven modalities, a broad intellectual property portfolio in areas including mRNA and lipid nanoparticle formulation, and an integrated manufacturing plant that allows for both clinical and commercial production at scale and at unprecedented speed. Moderna maintains alliances with a broad range of domestic and overseas government and commercial collaborators, which has allowed for the pursuit of both groundbreaking science and rapid scaling of manufacturing. Most recently, Moderna’s capabilities have come together to allow the authorized use of one of the earliest and most-effective vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic. Moderna’s mRNA platform builds on continuous advances in basic and applied mRNA science, delivery technology and manufacturing, and has allowed the development of therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases and autoimmune diseases. Moderna has been named a top biopharmaceutical employer by Science for the past seven years.

Read More

NCCN Oncology Research Program and Puma Biotechnology, Inc. Collaborate to Research on Neratinib in Various Cancers

National Comprehensive Cancer Network | October 16, 2020

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) Oncology Research Program (ORP) today announced plans to evaluate neratinib, a type of tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) that works as a dual inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor 1 (EGFR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). The research funding is supported by a $2-million grant from Puma Biotechnology, Inc. Projects may include pre-clinical, translational and clinical trials. They will focus on treatment of: Pediatric tumors(including neurofibromatosis Type 2 and progressive Vestibular Schwannoma). Early-stage and metastatic breast cancer, including those with HER2+ brain metastases. Other HER2-amplified tumors. EGFR-mutated glioblastoma multiforme. Specific research areas will be determined by a group of cancer research experts from NCCN Member Institutions who form a Request for Proposals (RFP) Development Team.

Read More