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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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

c-LEcta Announces That It Has Reached Agreement to Be Acquired by Kerry Group

c-LEcta | February 16, 2022

c-LEcta, a leading biotechnology company in enzyme engineering and bioprocess development, has announced that it has reached an agreement with Kerry Group for it to acquire a majority shareholding of the company. Kerry is a world-leading taste and nutrition partner for the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical markets. This strategically compelling combination will accelerate Kerry’s innovation capabilities in enzyme engineering, fermentation and bio-process development while also enabling c-LEcta to fufill its long term growth potential. “We are very happy to join Kerry group and their global presence in the food and pharmaceutical sectors gives us access to additional markets. At the same time, their expertise in ingredient technologies and applications is a perfect fit as we continue to drive our growth potential in the future. We will continue to collaborate with our existing industry partners and will of course continue to produce and distribute our products for our valued customers.” Dr Marc Struhalla, founder and CEO of c-LEcta Thomas Pfaadt, CFO of c-LEcta adds: “We want to thank our previous investors for the great cooperation over the past years. Without their contribution, such a development would not have been possible. Together, we have achieved a lot and we are thankful for their support.” Commenting on the agreement with c-LEcta, Dr Albert McQuaid, Chief Science and Technology Officer of Kerry, said: “The food and pharmaceutical industries are on the cusp of a new wave of innovation where new developments in biotechnology, synthetic biology and precision fermentation are radically transforming these sectors. c-LEcta is a leader in these new technologies, which includes fermentation-based products such as disruptive new enzymes, and the strategically compelling combination with Kerry will accelerate our innovation capabilities in enzyme engineering, fermentation and bio-process development. Our broad market reach across food and pharma markets, combined with our deep enzyme applications expertise and integrated ingredient technology design, will enable and accelerate the growth potential of c-LEcta’s strong portfolio and technology capabilities while also supporting us in the creation of tastier, more sustainable and healthier products.” About c-LEcta c-LEcta is a leading biotechnology company located in Leipzig, Germany. The company has established itself as a leading player in the realisation of high-value biotechnology products for regulated markets, either as in-house development or in close cooperation with the industry. c-LEcta innovation capability delivers cost-efficient and sustainable production processes, creating growth opportunities across existing and new markets. About the Kerry Group Kerry is a world-leading taste and nutrition partner for the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical markets and with its broad portfolio of ingredient solutions reaches more than one billion customers worldwide. Together with their customers, Kerry develops innovative products with great taste, improved nutritional value, and higher functionality, while having a better impact on the environment. Thanks to their leading consumer knowledge, their global RD&A team with more than 1,100 food scientists, and their comprehensive, global presence, Kerry can overcome the complex challenges of their customers with differentiated solutions. Kerry is willing to be a valued partner for their customers and to create a world of sustainable nutrition.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

O2 Invests in Modular Devices, Inc.

O2 Investment Partners ( | January 24, 2022

O2 Investment Partners announced that it has partnered with Modular Devices, Inc. and its President & CEO, Greg Mink, to support the Company’s continued growth. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Founded in 1987, Modular Devices, Inc. is a leading provider of mobile and modular medical imaging equipment labs and cleanroom solutions throughout the United States. MDI’s medical imaging solutions offer various imaging modalities through short- and long-term leases to healthcare systems of all sizes. MDI is the only company offering modular cath labs as a stock-standard product available for rent. The Company’s cleanroom division serves the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and manufacturing sectors by providing standard and customized pre-certified ISO and USP compliant units for lease and for sale. MDI is headquartered in Indianapolis, IN. “We are experiencing rapid growth and feel that we are at a key moment in our company’s evolution. I believe that O2 is the optimal partner to continue our track record of success and capitalize on MDI’s growth initiatives in the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology markets.” Greg Mink, President & CEO of MDI Pat Corden at O2 commented, “Greg and the MDI team have built a very exciting business with a reputation for delivering best-in-class products and services to its customers. O2 is excited to partner with MDI and looks forward to supporting the business in its next stage of development. We would also like to thank our financial partner, Maranon Capital for their support in this transaction.” MDI is the sixth platform investment for O2’s most recent fund, O2 Investment Partners Fund III. O2 and MDI are aggressively pursuing M&A opportunities to expand the Company’s product and service offering. About Modular Devices, Inc. Founded in 1987, Modular Devices, Inc. is a leading provider of mobile and modular medical imaging equipment labs and cleanroom solutions throughout the United States. MDI’s medical imaging solutions offer various imaging modalities through short- and long-term leases to healthcare systems of all sizes. MDI is the only company offering modular cath labs as a stock-standard product available for rent. The Company’s cleanroom division serves the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and manufacturing sectors by providing standard and customized pre-certified ISO and USP compliant units for lease and for sale. MDI is headquartered in Indianapolis, IN. About O2 Investment Partners O2 Investment Partners is a Midwestern based private equity firm that seeks to acquire majority interests in lower middle market B2B services, technology, and select industrial companies. The firm invests in businesses with earnings growth potential and a clear path to the creation of shareholder value. O2 invests with a view toward partnering with management to build and grow the business and take it to its next stage of development. This requires not only a clear vision and strategic plan to create shareholder value, but a close partnership and alignment of interest with management.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Cyclica launches Perturba Therapeutics, a spin out from the University of Toronto, creating the next-generation oncology biotech

Cyclica Inc. | February 10, 2022

Cyclica Inc. a neo-biotech with the vision to advance the most robust and sustainable drug discovery pipeline, launches Perturba Therapeutics Inc. a spin out from the Stagljar Lab at the University of Toronto, Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research. Perturba is advancing a rich pipeline of assets from undrugged protein-protein interactions (PPIs). Only a small subset of biologically important drug targets are currently being explored within the pharma industry. Perturba is taking this challenge on by integrating Cyclica’s comprehensive AI-augmented proteome-wide drug design technology with two first-in-class live cell-based assays from the Stagljar Lab. With this integrated AI-augmented drug design and empirical phenotypic approach, Perturba is developing precision therapies that modulate PPIs and PPI-mediated biological processes with a focus on difficult-to-treat cancers. Perturba will initially focus on advancing two EGFR triple mutant inhibitors for non-small cell lung cancer, and four programs targeting small GTPases for various intractable cancers. Naheed Kurji, Co-Founder, CEO and President of Cyclica indicates that “More than half of all human disease-related proteins are considered undruggable using conventional approaches. As a result, patients suffering from life threatening diseases are left waiting for treatment. What others view as “undruggable”, we see as potential. Perturba represents an important franchise in the pursuit of our cancer strategy. We’re so excited to partner with Professor Stagljar and the world class Stagljar Lab in driving forward our shared vision.” "over the past two years, my lab has developed two high impact, live cell-based technologies for studying protein-protein interactions and identifying novel drug molecules – MaMTH-DS and SIMPL. Combining these two technologies with Cyclica’s world-class AI-drug design approach will usher in a new way to conduct drug discovery for highly intractable targets in an unprecedented way at scale. I’ve known Naheed and the team at Cyclica for years and jointly have shown multiple proof points using our platforms with a program targeting an osimertinib resistant EGFR triple mutant that we will be progressing in Perturba, and a program targeting an oncogenic KRAS in a separate collaboration that gave us confidence to target other small GTPases in Perturba.” Dr. Igor Stagljar, Professor at University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine and Principal Investigator at the Donnelly Centre Seasoned drug developer Rick Panicucci, PhD, SVP at BridgeBio Pharma and a long time advisor at Cyclica has been appointed as non-executive Chairman of Perturba to help oversee the company's strategy. Su Dharmawardhane Flanagan, PhD, Tony Hunter, PhD and Ming Tsao, MD, have been appointed to Perturba’s Scientific Advisory Board. Cyclica will provide initial funding for Perturba and will seek external funding from strategic partners as required. “I’ve been involved in drug discovery & development for over 25 years. What I can say with certainty is that the way things will be done going forward is going to be very different from how it was done before. I’ve been an advisor at Cyclica for 6 years and have witnessed first hand the power of AI and data-first approaches to drive drug discovery fast and with quality. Now, with Perturba and integrating AI drug design and phenotypic assays opens a whole new way of design-make-test-analyze at scale for target classes that have been ignored for too long,” shares Panicucci. About Perturba An integrated oncology focused biotech company for unaddressable and undrugged targets. Founded in 2021 as a venture between Cyclica and the Stagljar Lab at the University of Toronto, Perturba integrates Cyclica’s AI-augmented drug discovery platform with sensitive, live-cell drug screening assays, MaMTH-DS and SIMPL from the Stagljar lab. Perturba is developing precision therapies at scale that modulate PPIs and PPI-mediated biological processes. About Cyclica Cyclica advances molecules that embrace the complexity of disease. A neo-biotech whose work spans dozens of collaborations with large pharma, biotech and several joint ventures. We are a passionate team of biotech and pharma professionals, biologists, chemists, and computer scientists who live and labour at the intersection of our collective expertise. About the Stagljar Lab and the Donnelly Centre The Stagljar lab at the University of Toronto is one of the world leading labs in the field of proteomics/chemical genomics, developing high-throughput technologies to facilitate the study of the protein-protein interactions (PPIs) of various human membrane proteins involved in cancer and rare genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis. The Stagljar lab is currently directing major proteomics/chemical genomics projects to map how integral membrane proteins interact to produce either healthy or diseased cells, to identify novel therapeutic targets, and to screen for novel drugs using artificial intelligence platforms, in particular to target lung, colon, breast and pancreatic cancer. In close collaboration with medicinal chemists and clinical investigators, the Stagljar lab investigates the molecular mechanisms behind challenging, unexplained observations on drugs and on pathological events.

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MEDTECH

BIO-ISAC and New York Metro InfraGard Membership Alliance Announce Partnership

NY Metro InfraGard | April 28, 2022

The Bioeconomy Information Sharing and Analysis Center (BIO-ISAC) and New York Metro InfraGard Members Alliance® (NYM-IMA) today announced a partnership to address threats unique to the bioeconomy and enable coordination among stakeholders to facilitate a robust and secure industry. BIO-ISAC is a critical resource for cyber threat detection, prevention, protection, response, recovery and resilience in the bioeconomy. It helps spur the development and evaluation of defensive tools to address ongoing and emerging threats, and includes vulnerability identification and mitigation, and education and outreach, aimed at reducing risk to the nation's biosecurity infrastructure. BIO-ISAC partnering with NYM-IMA advances our efforts to strengthen our resilience from attacks on the public and private bioeconomy infrastructure. We look forward to developing our collaboration to further enhance, maintain and implement best practices and standards to improve global digital biosecurity." Nina Alli, board member of BIO-ISAC. The bioeconomy is defined as economic activity driven by research and innovation in the life sciences and biotechnology and enabled by technological advances in engineering and in computing and information sciences. A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report published in 2020 values the bioeconomy at more than 5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, or more than $950 billion.* The digitization of life sciences has resulted in the emergence of a complex ecosystem plagued with cybersecurity challenges. We are privileged to collaborate with the BIO-ISAC, a team of exceptionally talented technologists. We support their efforts and share their commitment to safeguarding the cybersecurity of the bioeconomy. To protect our bioeconomy adequately, we must constantly assess the current threat landscape and our response capabilities. This collaboration broadens our aperture, and we believe it will have a significant impact." Jennifer Gold, president, NY Metro InfraGard. The bioeconomy spans multiple U.S. Critical Infrastructure sectors, including Health Care and Public Health, Critical Manufacturing, Food and Agriculture, Chemical, Energy, Government Facilities, Information Technology, Water and Wastewater, and the Defense Industrial Base Sectors. BIO-ISAC members are bioeconomy-connected industry leaders, organizations, and academic institutions connected to Biomanufacturing, BioPharma, BioProducts (synthetic bio), software and hardware vendors, national security, and agriculture. BIO-ISAC also acts as the convening place for trusted international partners to collaborate on digital biosecurity and biological supply chain security issues. InfraGard is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and members of the private sector for the protection of U.S. Critical Infrastructure. Through seamless collaboration, InfraGard connects owners and operators within critical infrastructure to the FBI, to provide education, information sharing, networking, and workshops on emerging technologies and threats. InfraGard's membership includes business executives, entrepreneurs, lawyers, security personnel, military and government officials, IT professionals, academia and state and local law enforcement—all dedicated to contributing industry-specific insight and advancing national security.

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