Study uncovers genetic switches that control process of whole-body regeneration

Phys.org | March 14, 2019

When it comes to regeneration, some animals are capable of amazing feats—if you cut the leg off a salamander, it will grow back. When threatened, some geckos drop their tails as a distraction and regrow them later. Other animals take the process even further. Planarian worms, jellyfish, and sea anemones can actually regenerate their entire bodies after being cut in half. Led by Assistant Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Mansi Srivastava, a team of researchers is shedding new light on how animals pull off the feat and uncovered a number of DNA switches that appear to control genes for whole-body regeneration. The study is described in a March 15 paper in Science. Using three-banded panther worms to test the process, Srivastava and Andrew Gehrke, a post-doctoral fellow working in her lab, found that a section of non-coding DNA controls the activation of a "master control gene" called early growth response, or EGR. Once active, EGR controls a number of other processes by switching other genes on or off. "What we found is that this one master gene comes on...and that's activating genes that are turning on during regeneration," Gehrke said. "Basically, what's going on is the non-coding regions are telling the coding regions to turn on or off, so a good way to think of it is as though they are switches."

Spotlight

Scientists have successfully created synthetic DNA with twice as many base pairs as normal, with potential implications in medicine, data storage, and even understanding how life could evolve elsewhere in the universe.

Spotlight

Scientists have successfully created synthetic DNA with twice as many base pairs as normal, with potential implications in medicine, data storage, and even understanding how life could evolve elsewhere in the universe.

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MEDICAL

CosmosID® Enters Microbiome Partnership with Locus Biosciences

CosmosID | June 22, 2022

CosmosID®, an American provider of end-to-end microbiome platforms and award-winning metagenomics services, announced entering into a microbiome partnership with a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing a new class of precision-engineered bacteriophage treatments, Locus Biosciences, Inc. With this partnership, CosmosID focuses on providing its GCP-compliant and CLIA-certified laboratory services for Locus' clinical trial initiatives in the microbiome field. Locus is developing two innovative biotherapeutics categories to meet significant unaddressed medical needs. First, engineered bacteriophage therapies that use bacteria resident in specific body locations to dispatch therapeutic molecules. Second, precision CRISPR-enhanced bacteriophage (crPhage®) products to combat fatal infections, including the ones caused by multi-drug resistant bacteria. Locus is able to swiftly recognize, distinguish, engineer, and produce bacteriophage products against bacterial targets involved in the pathogenesis of numerous diseases by collaborating discovery automation, industry-leading informatics, synthetic biology, and sophisticated in-house manufacturing. CosmosID's infrastructure for providing access to compliant, higher resolution, and robust microbiome analysis will allow Locus to enhance its capability and add insight into precision therapeutics platforms. With its shotgun metagenomics, the company will assist Locus in understanding its products' effectiveness through CosmosID's robust resolution microbiome analysis, commencing with its urinary tract infection clinical program. We're thrilled to partner with Locus on its groundbreaking clinical pipeline as we help the company better understand the impact of these phages on the microbiome, Locus' robust and diligent approach to this study is much needed in the field and we look forward to helping them build a strong clinical data package." Manoj Dadlani, CEO of CosmosID. This partnership with CosmosID will allow Locus to monitor microbiome changes upon treatment of patients with antibiotics and with crPhage, helping us to evaluate the impact of preserving and protecting their microflora while clearing their infections." Paul Garofolo, CEO of Locus Biosciences.

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MEDTECH

BeiGene Announces Strategic Alliance with Ontada to Improve U.S. Community Oncology Care

BeiGene | August 16, 2022

BeiGene a global biotechnology company that is developing and commercializing innovative and affordable oncology medicines to improve treatment outcomes and access for far more patients worldwide, today announced a strategic agreement with Ontada®, a McKesson business with leading provider technology and actionable real-world research, education, and evidence in oncology, to improve U.S. community oncology care through the development of real-world evidence data, tools, and insights to help increase access to affordable, cutting-edge therapies. The partnership will be led by Ontada and focus on accelerating the development and implementation of RWE to improve community education on the financial impact and value of oncolytics as well as improve patient access to oncology medicines. “BeiGene is excited to work with Ontada to advance our shared vision of improving patient access, affordability, and value for community oncology stakeholders and key partners working at the intersection of clinical practice and real-world evidence. Working together, BeiGene and Ontada will generate novel oncology insights through real-world data, tools, and technologies that will facilitate the acceleration of precise decision-making in support of community oncology practices whose ultimate mission is to improve patient outcomes.” Josh Neiman, Chief Commercial Officer, North America and Europe, at BeiGene As part of the collaboration, the companies will optimize the use of RWE to communicate value across key stakeholders including patients, providers, and payers; develop timely education on emerging science and therapeutic differentiation; and collaborate to advance use of RWE in healthcare and regulatory decision making to increase timely and affordable patient access to life-saving oncology therapies. “BeiGene aims to bring 10 molecules per year to the clinic starting in 2023 and, as this research advances, we’re delighted to form this strategic partnership with McKesson, which shares the same vision as BeiGene for improving the care of cancer patients,” said Christiane Langer, M.D., Senior Vice President of Global Medical Affairs, Ex-China, at BeiGene. “This collaboration will leverage Ontada’s technology platform and deep understanding of the experiences of patients treated in community oncology clinics to help accelerate both the development of the BeiGene portfolio and expand access to treatment options.” “As a leader in real-world research, Ontada is uniquely positioned to support complex research that uncovers deeper patient insights and perspectives that advance cancer care,” said Susan Shiff, Ph.D., president of Ontada. “We are excited to announce this unique partnership with BeiGene and look forward to developing a stronger understanding of how to better treat oncology patients through the use of real-world data and evidence.” About Ontada® Ontada is an oncology technology and insights business dedicated to transforming the fight against cancer. Part of McKesson Corporation, Ontada was founded on the core belief that precise insights – delivered exactly at the point of need – can save more patients’ lives. We connect the full patient journey by combining technologies used by The US Oncology Network and other community oncology providers with real-world data and research relied on by all top 15 global life sciences companies. Our work helps accelerate innovation and power the future of cancer care. About McKesson Corporation McKesson Corporation is a diversified healthcare services leader dedicated to advancing health outcomes for patients everywhere. Our teams partner with biopharma companies, care providers, pharmacies, manufacturers, governments, and others to deliver insights, products and services to help make quality care more accessible and affordable. Learn more about how McKesson is impacting virtually every aspect of healthcare at McKesson.com and read Our Stories. BeiGene Oncology BeiGene is committed to advancing best- and first-in-class clinical candidates internally or with like-minded partners to develop impactful and affordable medicines for patients across the globe. We have a growing R&D and medical affairs team of approximately 2,900 colleagues dedicated to advancing more than 100 clinical trials that have involved more than 16,000 subjects. Our expansive portfolio is directed predominantly by our internal colleagues supporting clinical trials in more than 45 countries and regions. Hematology-oncology and solid tumor targeted therapies and immuno-oncology are key focus areas for the Company, with both mono- and combination therapies prioritized in our research and development. BeiGene currently has three approved medicines discovered and developed in our own labs: BTK inhibitor BRUKINSA® in the U.S., China, the European Union, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and additional international markets; and the non-Fc-gamma receptor binding anti-PD-1 antibody, tislelizumab, as well as the PARP inhibitor, pamiparib, in China. BeiGene also partners with innovative companies who share our goal of developing therapies to address global health needs. We commercialize a range of oncology medicines in China licensed from Amgen, Bristol Myers Squibb, EUSA Pharma and Bio-Thera. We also plan to address greater areas of unmet need globally through our other collaborations including with Mirati Therapeutics, Seagen, and Zymeworks. In January 2021, BeiGene and Novartis announced a collaboration granting Novartis rights to co-develop, manufacture, and commercialize BeiGene’s anti-PD1 antibody, tislelizumab, in North America, Europe, and Japan. Building upon this productive collaboration, BeiGene and Novartis announced an option, collaboration, and license agreement in December 2021 for BeiGene’s TIGIT inhibitor, ociperlimab, that is in Phase 3 development. Novartis and BeiGene also entered into a strategic commercial agreement through which BeiGene will promote five approved Novartis Oncology products across designated regions of China. About BeiGene BeiGene is a global biotechnology company that is developing and commercializing innovative and affordable oncology medicines to improve treatment outcomes and access for far more patients worldwide. With a broad portfolio, we are expediting development of our diverse pipeline of novel therapeutics through our internal capabilities and collaborations. We are committed to radically improving access to medicines for far more patients who need them. Our growing global team of more than 8,500 colleagues spans five continents, with administrative offices in Beijing, China; Cambridge, U.S.; and Basel, Switzerland.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Enveric Biosciences Advances Drug Development for Mental Health Indications and Intellectual Property Portfolio

Enveric Biosciences, Inc | July 14, 2022

Enveric Biosciences, Inc. a neuroscience-focused biotechnology company developing next-generation, psychedelic-inspired mental health medicines, today revealed drug discovery and development progress targeting mental health indications and intellectual property advances achieved during the first half of 2022. “The first half of 2022 was foundationally successful for Enveric. We validated and executed on the corporate premise that we can deploy PsyAITM, our proprietary artificial intelligence tool, and PsybraryTM, our expanding proprietary portfolio of new chemical entities and drug candidates, to design and improve upon new drug molecules inspired by legacy psychedelic drugs,” Dr. Joseph Tucker, PhD, Enveric’s Chief Executive Officer “Enveric is pleased to advise that our predictions have materialized, and our platforms have successfully generated a large number of promising new molecules that have successfully passed primary screening and moved on to lead optimization, providing us with a strong slate of drug candidates. Our leading program, EVM-201, includes a number of new molecules currently in lead optimization that are geared towards providing improved characteristics and drug-like properties compared with psilocybin. The successful outcomes from our testing efforts completed in the first half of 2022 have positioned the company very well to advance our drug candidates towards the clinic,” continued Dr. Tucker. Clinical-Need Driven Based on extensive direct clinical understanding of the current unmet needs in anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health indications, coupled with in-depth knowledge of the current treatment landscape, Enveric’s Clinical Team is well positioned to tackle the challenges ahead, while aiming to shepherd novel new treatments for a host of mental health indications. Enveric’s Clinical Team is led by a past Board-certified psychiatrist and clinical trialist Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bob Dagher, MD. Dr. Dagher joined Enveric in December 2021, bringing a wealth of clinical trial management and new CNS-drug development experience from his past roles, including at WCG, Cadent, Covance, Sanofi and GSK, in addition to his first-hand experience in treating patients from his previous clinical practice in psychiatric medicine. Next-Generation Drug Discovery Enveric’s Discovery Team, spearheaded by Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Peter Facchini, PhD, an international leader in natural product biochemistry and biotechnology, completed the rational design of more than 300 Generation-2 (“Gen-2”) psilocin prodrug candidates using well-established design strategies, but adapted to the unique structure of psilocin. The 300 Gen-2 original concept designs, now housed within the PsybraryTM, were screened using PsyAITM. The assessment helped predict chemical structures with appropriate receptor binding, toxicology, and pharmacokinetic profiles that would trigger the desired mechanisms of action while reducing undesirable side effects, and the initial candidate evaluation included, among other metrics, prodrug-likeness, toxicity, ease of chemical synthesis and degree of IP-white space surrounding the molecule. Ranked scoring of these and other AI assessments, as well as commercial considerations (e.g., ease of procuring synthetic starting materials), prioritized 31 novel Gen-2 molecules that have been synthesized in sufficient quantities (~10 mg, 95% purity) for preliminary pharmacological screening. Enveric’s Chemistry Group, led by Dr. Kaveh Matinkhoo, PhD, completed these syntheses, 29 of which were deemed stable enough to advance. Deep-dive chemical structure searches, patentability, and freedom-to-operate reviews were performed on all 29 candidates, under the leadership of Lead Internal Counsel C. Michael Gegenheimer. All the patentability analyses indicated potential patentability results, and 25 of the 29 molecules presented minimal concern with freedom to operate. To strengthen the IP protection for the overall Gen-2 prodrug program, three provisional patent applications, covering 7 structurally diverse clinical classes and thousands of additional potential new drug candidates, have been filed so far in 2022, and additional provisional and PCT filings are expected to continue throughout the year. In other IP developments, an additional three of Enveric’s international patent applications protecting tryptamine derivatives have been published by the World Intellectual Property Organization, bringing the total published so far to seven. EVM-201 Drug Candidate Testing Following the initial Gen-2 ideation, patent filing, synthesis, and screening efforts, more extensive assays were performed on the advancing drug candidates. Numerous internal assays were performed under the leadership of Dr. Jill Hagel, PhD, Vice-President of Innovation and Dr. Sheetal Raithatha, PhD, Director of Research and Development. The internal results were then confirmed and validated using leading independent, third-party Contract Research Organizations (CROs), covering 122 Toxicology tests, 72 receptor-binding and potency tests, 31 pharmacokinetic tests and 24 animal-model tests to provide ample information to support candidate nomination. The synthesis and analysis of these comprehensive pharmacology and toxicology datasets, both internal and external, was led by Dr. Kevin Leach, PhD DABT, Vice President of Preclinical and Translational Research. Enveric is now moving towards lead-candidate nomination and, in preparation for IND filing, has initiated numerous IND-enabling studies on several of the leading candidates at third-party CROs. Recognizing the need for stable drugs with robust, reproducible, and cost-effective manufacturing, several Contract Development & Manufacturing Organizations (CDMOs) are currently engaged with Enveric’s Chemistry Team to determine how best to manufacture our molecules. Enveric has plans in place to produce material at commercial facilities and the CDMO personnel have worked with our chemists to validate that our processes will work at their facilities. This is another necessary step prior to filing the IND. Finally, preliminary formulation work is underway, with a particular focus on enabling improved routes of administration. “The first half of the year has indeed been busy and productive for the dedicated team here at Enveric. We are all very excited at how those efforts have begun to bear fruit. We look forward to advising our shareholders of further key developments, which we anticipate will continue to unfold during the remainder of 2022,” concluded Dr. Tucker. About Enveric Biosciences Enveric Biosciences, Inc. is a neuroscience-focused pharmaceutical company developing next-generation, psychedelic-inspired mental health medicines. Enveric's robust pipeline supports drug development from the clinic to commercialization aimed to help millions of patients in need around the world suffering from conditions that include cancer-related distress, PTSD and more.

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