Tennessee researchers join call for responsible development of synthetic biology

Engineering biology is already transforming technology and science, and a consortium of researchers across many disciplines in the international Genome Project-write is calling for more discussion among scientists, policy makers and the general public to shepherd future development. In a policy forum article published in the October 18 issue of Science, the authors outline the technological advances needed to secure the transformative future of synthetic biology and express their concerns that the implementation of the relatively new discipline remains safe and responsible. Two researchers with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture are co-authors on the piece titled "Technological challenges and milestones for writing genomes: synthetic genomics requires improved technologies." Neal Stewart and Scott Lenaghan with the UTIA departments of Plant Sciences and Food Science, respectively, join Nili Ostrov, a Ph.D. research fellow in genetics at Harvard Medical School, and 18 other leading scientists from a number of institutions and disciplines, in outlining a potential timeline for the development of what they call transformative advances to science and society.

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Jnana Therapeutics Announces Positive Clinical Proof of Concept Achieved with JNT-517, a Potential First-in-Class Oral Treatment for PKU

Jnana Therapeutics, Inc. | February 02, 2024

Jnana Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company leveraging its next-generation chemoproteomics platform to discover medicines for challenging-to-drug targets, today announced positive, statistically significant interim results from its ongoing clinical study of JNT-517 in individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU). JNT-517, a small molecule inhibitor of the phenylalanine (Phe) transporter SLC6A19, is being evaluated as a potential first-in-class oral treatment for PKU across all ages and genotypes. On the basis of these positive interim results, Jnana has adapted the Phase 1b trial design to support the potential for accelerated progression of JNT-517. “There is an urgent need for an oral, safe, and efficacious therapy for the more than 60% of individuals with PKU not currently on therapy. Across the spectrum of mild to severe disease, our results demonstrate a robust, sustained reduction in blood Phe levels, the registrational endpoint for PKU, giving us high confidence in the path forward for JNT-517,” said George Vratsanos, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and Head of R&D at Jnana Therapeutics. “We are also encouraged by this validation of the power of our RAPID platform to discover small molecules with compelling clinical benefit against challenging-to-drug targets.” JNT-517 is being studied in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in individuals with mild to severe PKU. Following a 28-day screening period focused predominantly on ensuring an average blood Phe level of >600µM, study participants were randomized with no run-in period to 75mg of JNT-517 twice daily (BID) or placebo. The planned interim analysis was based on 13 participants, eight dosed with JNT-517 and five dosed with placebo over 28 days, and demonstrated the following results JNT-517 led to a statistically significant (p=0.0019 vs. placebo) mean blood Phe reduction from baseline of 51%, measured per-protocol at day 28. A high response rate was seen where seven of eight (88%) treated participants achieved >30% reduction in blood Phe from baseline; five of eight (63%) achieved >45% reduction; and two of eight (25%) achieved >65% reduction. A robust response was seen across participants treated with JNT-517 irrespective of baseline blood Phe levels, which ranged from 593µM to 1,526µM with a mean of 1,124µM. A rapid onset of effect was observed with significant blood Phe reduction achieved within seven days after commencing dosing, which was sustained through the full 28 days of dosing. JNT-517 was safe and well tolerated with no serious adverse events and no clinically significant changes in laboratory parameters, consistent with the safety profile demonstrated in the Phase 1a healthy volunteer study. "JNT-517 represents a completely new therapeutic approach that could transform the current treatment paradigm in PKU, in particular for individuals with severe, or classical, PKU where there is the highest unmet medical need,” said Cary O. Harding, M.D., study investigator and Professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics at Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine. “I am encouraged by the clinical results to date and look forward to working with Jnana and the PKU community to continue to advance this program.” Based on these interim results, Jnana has adapted the protocol of the ongoing trial to include dose exploration. Jnana expects topline data from the second dose cohort in mid-2024 and plans to submit full data from the two dose cohorts for presentation at a scientific meeting in the second half of 2024. Jnana anticipates the company will engage regulators in the second half of 2024 and seek to advance JNT-517 directly into a pivotal Phase 3 study in the first half of 2025. JNT-517 Phase 1b Clinical Trial The ongoing clinical program includes a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluating the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and effect on blood and urinary Phe of JNT-517 dosed over a four-week period in individuals diagnosed with PKU. The study dosed its first participant with PKU in August 2023 and is enrolling individuals aged 18 to 65 at clinical sites in the United States and Australia. For more information about the study, please see clinicaltrials.gov (NCT05781399). About JNT-517 JNT-517 is a selective small molecule inhibitor of the Phe transporter SLC6A19 that has the potential to be a first-in-class oral therapy used to treat any person with PKU, regardless of age or genotype. JNT-517 acts at a novel, cryptic allosteric site to block kidney reabsorption of Phe and offers a promising new approach to reduce blood Phe levels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted JNT-517 Rare Pediatric Disease Designation in late 2022. About PKU PKU is a rare inherited metabolic disorder caused by a deficiency of the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH). This enzyme is required for the breakdown of phenylalanine (Phe), an amino acid found in all protein-containing foods. When PAH is deficient or defective, Phe accumulates to abnormally high levels in the blood. If left untreated, toxic levels of Phe in the blood can result in progressive and severe neurological impairment and neuropsychological complications. The SLC transporter SLC6A19 is responsible for kidney reabsorption of Phe back into the bloodstream, and the inhibition of SLC6A19 offers a novel, oral approach for the treatment of PKU by facilitating urinary excretion of excess Phe. About Jnana Therapeutics Jnana Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotechnology company leveraging its next-generation RAPID chemoproteomics platform to discover medicines for highly validated, challenging-to-drug targets to treat diseases with high unmet needs. Jnana is focused on developing first- and best-in-class therapies to treat a wide range of diseases, including rare diseases and immune-mediated diseases. Jnana’s wholly owned lead program, JNT-517, which targets an allosteric site on the phenylalanine transporter SLC6A19, is a potential first-in-class oral approach for the treatment of PKU, a rare genetic metabolic disease. Located in Boston, Jnana brings together scientific leaders in small molecule drug discovery and development, a highly experienced management team, and the backing of leading life science investors Bain Capital Life Sciences, RA Capital Management, Polaris Partners, Versant Ventures, Avalon Ventures, Pfizer Ventures, and AbbVie Ventures.

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PanGIA Biotech Plans Expanded Multi-Cancer Early Detection Liquid Biopsy Study

PanGIA Biotech, Inc. | January 05, 2024

PanGIA Biotech, a US based biotechnology company with a mission to develop true liquid biopsy technology that is scalable for global impact, today announced that it is finalizing its three-year, prospective, multicenter, clinical study on prostate cancer liquid biopsy. This announcement comes as the company prepares to launch additional clinical studies in multi-cancer early detection using the PanGIA® Liquid Biopsy Platform. “The PanGIA urine based true liquid biopsy technology has been developed for global impact by diagnosing, monitoring, and managing cancers earlier to save lives using urine as the sample type to create vastly improved availability and scalability in cancer diagnostics,” according to PanGIA Biotech’s CEO, Holly Magliochetti. In 2020, the company received IRB approval and launched a novel AI integrated urine based liquid biopsy study. The company immediately began recruiting urologists in US-based academic as well as large and small group community practices to enroll men who were scheduled for prostate biopsy. Results of the study are pending publication. “Based on the high sensitivity and high specificity of the PanGIA prostate study, PanGIA Biotech is now preparing to significantly expand the platform by launching follow-on studies in ten additional cancer types,” said Tricia Schumann, Chief Investment Officer of PanGIA Biotech. Additional cancer types in the PanGIA follow-on study will include breast, ovarian, lung, renal, bladder, colorectal, stomach, pancreas, liver, and brain. The company will begin recruiting experienced medical professionals across the United States as clinical study sites as well as listing the study on ClinicalTrials.gov. PanGIA Biotech intends to launch the expanded study in mid-2024. Interested researchers may contact the company for additional information. About PanGIA Biotech, Inc. PanGIA Biotech develops novel, AI integrated, true liquid biopsy technology that is scalable for global impact. The PanGIA® platform allows rapid development of non-invasive testing for detecting, monitoring response to therapy, and managing a variety of diseases and disorders, including cancers as early as Stage 1. The company combines expertise in molecular biology with advanced computational biology and machine learning to detect disease-associated patterns using proprietary technology.

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Twist Bioscience Expands Express Genes Rapid Synthesis Service

Twist Bioscience Corporation | January 30, 2024

Twist Bioscience Corporation a company enabling customers to succeed through its offering of high-quality synthetic DNA using its silicon platform, today announced the expansion of Twist Express Genes, a new leading gene synthesis service with an order to shipping turnaround starting at five business days1, to include larger DNA preparations up to 1 milligram. The Express Genes offering, initially launched in November 2023, now extends to larger midiprep (10μg to 100 μg) and maxiprep (100μg to 1mg) DNA preparations. As with Twist standard speed Clonal Genes, all Twist Express Genes are NGS-verified as clonally perfect. “Since the initial launch of our Express Genes service in November, we have received positive and enthusiastic feedback from existing customers on our consistent and rapid turnaround time. By expanding Express Genes to include midiprep and maxiprep, we can now offer rapid gene synthesis at all gene prep scales, enabling large scale experimentation for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, academic and industrial chemical researchers,” said Emily M. Leproust, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Twist Bioscience. “With the expanded offering of Twist Express Genes, more researchers can gain access to Twist genes fast and at scale, including those using alternative providers and those cloning their own genes. The ability to order and receive synthetic DNA fast and at scale means more time for cutting-edge research, more make-test-learn cycles, and an accelerated journey to game-changing discoveries.” Twist leverages its ability to miniaturize the chemical reaction to create DNA using its silicon-based DNA synthesis platform along with expertise, software, optimized processes and the expanded layout of its Wilsonville facility to deliver Clonal Genes and Gene Fragments at scale and with rapid turnaround times. Twist’s Express Genes are offered with dynamic pricing, which reflects market demand and manufacturing capacity in a responsive premium price. Customers are able to quickly and easily place orders for Express Genes through Twist’s ecommerce platform. Twist Express Genes Twist Express Genes are 0.3kb to 5.0kb in length. Due to scale enabled by Twist’s platform, orders of any size both small and large can be filled, and as with standard speed Twist Clonal Genes, Twist Express Genes are NGS sequence-verified as one hundred percent accurate. Twist Express Genes can be cloned into catalog vectors or custom vectors so that customers can move right to experimentation. They can also be shipped in customers’ preferred delivery formats, including tubes and plates. For more information and product specifications click here. Current turnaround times for some Twist Bioscience products Express Genes1 (50ng-10µg): starting at 5 business days, now for up to 10µg Standard Clonal Genes (50ng-10µg): starting at 10 business days Express Genes1 (10µg-1mg): starting at 8 business days Standard Clonal Genes (10µg-1mg): starting at 13 business days 1 Express Clonal Genes ship in 5-7 business days. DNA prep sizes including 10 μg - 100 μg, and 100 μg - 1 mg may incur an additional 3-5 days for synthesis. Orders placed outside of the US will incur additional delivery turnaround time. Express Genes orders that require new custom vector onboarding will incur an additional 1-2 weeks for processing. About Twist Bioscience Corporation Twist Bioscience is a leading and rapidly growing synthetic biology and genomics company that has developed a disruptive DNA synthesis platform to industrialize the engineering of biology. The core of the platform is a proprietary technology that pioneers a new method of manufacturing synthetic DNA by “writing” DNA on a silicon chip. Twist is leveraging its unique technology to manufacture a broad range of synthetic DNA-based products, including synthetic genes, tools for next-generation sequencing (NGS) preparation, and antibody libraries for drug discovery and development. Twist is also pursuing longer-term opportunities in digital data storage in DNA and biologics drug discovery. Twist makes products for use across many industries including healthcare, industrial chemicals, agriculture and academic research.

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