Scientists propose rethinking 'endangered species' definition to save slow-breeding giants

phys.org | May 17, 2019

Conservation decisions based on population counts may fail to protect large, slow-breeding animals from irrevocable decline, according to new research coinciding with Endangered Species Day. "Critical thresholds in so-called vital rates—such as mortality and fertility rates among males and females of various ages—can signal an approaching population collapselong before numbers drop below a point of no return," says lead author Dr. Shermin de Silva, President & Founder of Asian elephant conservation charity Trunks & Leaves. "We propose that conservation efforts for Asian elephants and other slow-breeding megafauna be aimed at maintaining their 'demographic safe space': that is, the combination of key vital rates that supports a non-negative growth rate."

Spotlight

Vaccine research and development (R&D) has been quietly undergoing a renaissance in recent years, particularly as health care authorities increasingly acknowledge the benefits and costeffectiveness of vaccination. Canada continues to make significant contributions to vaccine R&D; these accomplishments have saved lives, decreased human suffering, and reduced health care costs, thus protecting the well being of individuals and societies in Canada and around the world.

Spotlight

Vaccine research and development (R&D) has been quietly undergoing a renaissance in recent years, particularly as health care authorities increasingly acknowledge the benefits and costeffectiveness of vaccination. Canada continues to make significant contributions to vaccine R&D; these accomplishments have saved lives, decreased human suffering, and reduced health care costs, thus protecting the well being of individuals and societies in Canada and around the world.

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MEDTECH

ZS and Seven Bridges Collaborate to Innovate Drug Research

ZS, Seven Bridges | May 07, 2021

ZS and Seven Bridges disclosed a collaboration today that will merge ZS's experience in biomedical testing facilities and data science with Seven Bridges' technology platform, which enables multi-omics analytics through the translational and clinical continuum. The hybrid offers biopharmaceutical and biotechnology firms a one-stop-shop for multi-omics analysis innovation and scalability. ZS and Seven Bridges work together to help clients produce breakthrough science, promote drug development, and improve the probability of approval for potential drug candidates. "Working side by side with our clients to help streamline R&D data and maximize pace and market to enhance patients' lives is at the heart of what we do at ZS," said Aaron Mitchell, principal, and leader of ZS's research and development excellence program. "Our collaboration with Seven Bridges allows our clients, and eventually patients, to gain access to new therapies and diagnostics more quickly." "Drug discovery, translational medicine, and preclinical drug research all require study at the molecular and genomic levels of implementation, and our collaboration with Seven Bridges provides our clients with a new option for innovation and scalable capacity," said John Piccone, principal, and leader of ZS's biomedical research service line. "We are building a talent pool of molecular natives with a strong knowledge of chemistry, data science, and technology to collaborate with our clients in the discovery of potential drug targets, the selection of drug candidates, and the solution of key translational medicine challenges. The integration of the Seven Bridges Platform and experts with the ZS consulting teams results in a modular approach for clients with growing multi-omics data and analytics requirements." "We are delighted to be combining the Seven Bridges platform with ZS's innovative apps for drug discovery and translational medicine. Integrating our multi-omics analysis platform and ARIATM, a centralized solution for molecular and patient-level phenotypic analysis at scale, with their research data lake is a critical requirement for ZS's pharmaceutical clients "said Bruce Press, Seven Bridges' Chief Revenue Officer. About Seven Bridges Seven Bridges allows researchers to derive meaningful insights from genomic and phenotypic data, thereby advancing precision medicine. A compliant analytic platform, intelligently curated content, innovative algorithms, unmatched access to federated data sets, and specialist on-demand technical resources comprise the Seven Bridges Ecosystem. Researchers at the world's leading academic, biotechnology, clinical diagnostic, government, medical centers, and pharmaceutical institutions are using this systematic approach to bioinformatics to maximize R&D effectiveness, improve hypothesis resolution, isolate vital biomarkers, and even transform a failing clinical trial around while also minimizing computational workflow times and data storage costs.

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CELL AND GENE THERAPY

mRNA Victoria and Ginkgo Bioworks Announce Partnership to Grow the Bioeconomy & International Biosecurity Capabilities

Ginkgo Bioworks, mRNA Victoria | November 18, 2021

mRNA Victoria, the agency of the Australian State of Victoria Government charged with building the State's mRNA manufacturing and research capability, and Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), the leading horizontal platform for cell programming, announced a partnership to support vaccine development, biosecurity initiatives, and the application to Ginkgo's platform in the pharmaceutical and biotech, food and agriculture, and mining and bioremediation/recycling sectors in Australia. As the first step in the partnership, Ginkgo will establish an office in Melbourne in what is hoped to be a future long-term business expansion within Australia. Ginkgo's synthetic biology platform infrastructure and expertise brings critical capability to Victoria's biotech sector, and adds significant momentum to the State's rapidly growing biotechnology ecosystem. Ginkgo's cell programming capabilities have supported innovations in diagnostics and vaccine design and manufacturing, as well as ongoing research and development of innovative products such as living medicines, therapeutic proteins, and gene and cell therapies. Further, the company has established one of the largest nationwide COVID testing platforms in the United States, helping communities across the country keep kids in classrooms and COVID out. The company has also established an Airport Biosurveillance Program in collaboration with XpresCheck and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Melbourne is one of the leading biomedical research communities in the world. We have to forge international collaborations like this because, as we have all learned, biology doesn't respect borders. We are incredibly excited to work with mRNA Victoria and hope to expand further into the Australian market," said Matt McKnight, Chief Commercial Officer, Ginkgo Bioworks Victoria is a leader in mRNA research and manufacturing in Australia, with the nation's most sophisticated and largest mRNA ecosystem and commercialization capability. Through mRNA Victoria, the Victorian Government will continue to attract world leading biotech innovators to invest in Victoria, creating new jobs and fostering innovation in novel RNA treatments. "Victoria has a strong RNA ecosystem and is ideally placed to develop a sophisticated supply chain with critical capability from clinical development to the establishment of onshore mRNA manufacturing to the critical biosecurity technologies that enable us to reopen borders and get back to our lives," said Jaala Pulford, Victoria's Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy. About mRNA Victoria The State of Victoria is the home of Australia's biotech community with a globally recognized research sector including the country's leading mRNA researchers and existing capabilities in medtech, biotech, pharmaceutical and advanced manufacturing. mRNA Victoria is the Australian State of Victoria Government agency charged with building a world-class mRNA manufacturing and research capability. It leads the engagement and partnership with domestic and international companies, researchers, and other stakeholders in the mRNA ecosystem, and its investments and programs accelerate the growth of mRNA technology's scientific, commercial, and life-saving potential. About Ginkgo Bioworks Ginkgo is building a platform to enable customers to program cells as easily as we can program computers. The company's platform is enabling biotechnology applications across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to industrial chemicals to pharmaceuticals. Ginkgo has also actively supported a number of COVID-19 response efforts, including K-12 pooled testing, vaccine manufacturing optimization and therapeutics discovery. Forward-Looking Statements of Ginkgo Bioworks This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including statements regarding the potential of Ginkgo's biosecurity capabilities and partnership with mRNA Victoria. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words "believe," "project," "potential," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "strategy," "future," "opportunity," "plan," "may," "should," "will," "would," "will be," "will continue," "will likely result," and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this document, including but not limited to: (i) the effect of the business combination with Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. ("Soaring Eagle") on Ginkgo's business relationships, performance, and business generally, (ii) risks that the business combination disrupts current plans of Ginkgo and potential difficulties in Ginkgo's employee retention, (iii) the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against Ginkgo related to its business combination with Soaring Eagle, (iv) volatility in the price of Ginkgo's securities now that it is a public company due to a variety of factors, including changes in the competitive and highly regulated industries in which Ginkgo plans to operate, variations in performance across competitors, changes in laws and regulations affecting Ginkgo's business and changes in the combined capital structure, (v) the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations after the completion of the business combination, and identify and realize additional opportunities, and (vi) the risk of downturns in demand for products using synthetic biology. The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties described in the "Risk Factors" section of Ginkgo's quarterly report on Form 10-Q filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on November 15, 2021 and other documents filed by Ginkgo from time to time with the SEC. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Ginkgo assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Ginkgo does not give any assurance that it will achieve its expectations.

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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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