Medical, Industry Outlook

QurAlis and Unlearn Announce Collaboration to Accelerate and Optimize ALS Clinical Trials With Generative Artificial Intelligence Technologies

QurAlis and Unlearn Announce

QurAlis Corporation, a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing breakthrough precision medicines for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neurodegenerative diseases with genetically validated targets, and Unlearn, a pioneering technology company innovating machine learning to revolutionize medical research, today announced they have entered into a collaboration to accelerate and optimize QurAlis' clinical program in ALS with Unlearn's advanced generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Unlearn develops digital twins of clinical trial patients that are predictions of individual health outcomes under the control treatment over time. Digital twins are employed in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) called TwinRCTs to run more efficient trials that produce regulatory-suitable evidence.

"Advances in machine learning and AI make it possible to enhance trial power to detect a positive result when one truly exists while controlling for Type-1 error and significantly shorten timelines without introducing bias into the study," said Kasper Roet, Ph.D., founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of QurAlis. "We are excited to partner with Unlearn to help advance our clinical program with AI and other innovative technologies to generate evidence suitable for supporting regulatory decisions and help speed new, lifesaving precision medicines to patients with ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases."

The collaboration aims to reduce variability and increase the study power in QurAlis' clinical trials for QRL-201 and QRL-101, the Company's lead product candidates in ALS. Unlearn's patented machine learning models are trained on existing clinical data. After validation, they are used to generate digital twins from baseline data for each patient enrolled in a TwinRCT, regardless of their randomization assignment. Prognostic scores derived from digital twins are incorporated into the trial's primary analysis to precisely estimate treatment effects and control for Type-1 error.

"By using machine learning to leverage the wealth of existing patient data from completed clinical trials, our technology significantly shortens typical timelines by months while generating evidence suitable for supporting regulatory decisions," said Charles Fisher, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Unlearn. "The AI technology we're developing today will revolutionize the future of clinical research."

QRL-201 is a first-in-class therapeutic product candidate aiming to restore STATHMIN-2 (STMN2) expression in ALS patients. STATHMIN-2 is a well-validated protein important for neural repair and axonal stability, the expression of which is significantly decreased in nearly all ALS patients. QRL-201 rescues STMN2 loss of function in QurAlis ALS patient-derived motor neuron disease models in the presence of TDP-43 pathology. QRL-201 recently entered the clinic in the first-ever clinical trial to evaluate a therapy that rescues STMN2 in people with ALS.

QRL-201 is the second program in QurAlis' pipeline to enter the clinic recently. In December 2022, QurAlis announced the Company initiated dosing of QRL-101 in a first-in-human Phase 1 clinical trial (NCT05667779). QRL-101 is a first-in-class selective Kv7.2/7.3 ion channel opener for the treatment of hyperexcitability-induced disease progression in ALS.

About QurAlis Corporation

QurAlis is trailblazing the path to conquering amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neurodegenerative diseases with genetically validated targets with next-generation precision medicines. QurAlis' proprietary platforms and unique biomarkers enable the design and development of drugs that act directly on disease-causing genetic alterations. Founded by an internationally recognized team of neurodegenerative biologists from Harvard Medical School and Harvard University, QurAlis is advancing a deep pipeline of antisense oligonucleotides and small molecule programs including addressing sub-forms of ALS that account for the majority of ALS patients.

About Unlearn

Unlearn is a San Francisco-based technology company pioneering AI-generated digital twins that forecast health outcomes for individual patients. Founded in 2017, Unlearn brings together a team of world-class innovators at the intersection of artificial intelligence, clinical, and regulatory science to transform the future of medicine through generative AI. Unlearn's technology is regulatory-qualified and used by leading global pharmaceutical companies to run AI-powered clinical trials that reach full enrollment faster and bring new treatments to patients sooner.

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Personalis and ClearNote Health Announce Partnership to Advance Epigenomic Technology

Personalis, Inc. | February 05, 2024

Personalis, Inc. a leader in advanced genomics for cancer, and ClearNote Health, Inc., a pioneer in epigenomic technologies, today unveiled an alliance through which Personalis will expand its pharmaceutical service offerings by distributing ClearNote’s cutting-edge epigenomic 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) platform. “We have built a unique pharma channel based on our industry-leading tissue and MRD assays and ClearNote Health’s blood-based epigenomic approach is complementary to our offering as it helps our customers deepen their understanding of a patient’s response to immunotherapies,” said Chris Hall, CEO and President of Personalis. “Commercial partnerships such as this broaden our portfolio and are expected to appeal to a wide range of biopharma customers and accelerate our revenue growth.” Echoing this sentiment, Dave Mullarkey, CEO of ClearNote Health, remarked, “Partnering with Personalis presents an excellent opportunity to bring our 5hmC technology to the forefront of cancer research. This alliance is a testament to the synergy between our two companies, enabling us to expand our reach and significantly impact the biopharmaceutical industry. Together, we can accelerate the development of personalized therapies and make a real difference in the lives of patients.” ClearNote Health’s Epigenomics Platform represents a groundbreaking advance in cancer detection, offering real-time insights into disease-specific pathways. By tracking changes in 5hmC levels coupled with artificial intelligence-based analytical methods, the platform can detect cancer earlier, monitor disease progression, understand mechanisms of resistance, and identify promising drug targets and biomarkers. These insights are invaluable for optimizing drug development programs and delivering more effective treatments to patients. The Epigenomics Platform identifies changes in gene activation and gene regulation by labeling specific changes in the 5hmC landscape from plasma-derived cell-free DNA. This rich biological information, as part of clinical trials, enables the monitoring of cancer therapies in real time and contributes to an understanding of drug resistance mechanisms. The partnership marks a pivotal moment in cancer research, leveraging the strengths of both companies to offer unparalleled solutions in the biopharmaceutical industry. About ClearNote Heath, Inc. ClearNote Health is a cancer detection company focused on enabling people at risk for high-mortality cancers to live longer, healthier lives. Utilizing a standard blood draw, the company applies its proprietary epigenomic platform, combining biology and artificial intelligence, to identify DNA-based changes in biology as cancer develops. With lead programs in non-invasive early detection of pancreatic and ovarian cancers in patients at the highest risk for these diseases, ClearNote Health identifies cancers before they progress and when patients are most likely to benefit from treatment. ClearNote Health’s first commercially available test is the Avantect™ Pancreatic Cancer Test, which detects the presence of pancreatic cancer signals in patients at high risk of the disease, including those recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. ClearNote Health is headquartered in San Diego, with additional presence in the San Francisco Bay area and internationally. The company’s CLIA- and CAP-accredited laboratory is located in San Diego, Calif. About Personalis, Inc. At Personalis, we are transforming the active management of cancer through breakthrough personalized testing. We aim to drive a new paradigm for cancer management, guiding care from biopsy through the life of the patient. Our highly sensitive assays combine tumor-and-normal profiling with proprietary algorithms to deliver advanced insights even as cancer evolves over time. Our products are designed to detect minimal residual disease (MRD) and recurrence at the earliest time points, enable the selection of targeted therapies based on ultra-comprehensive genomic profiling, and enhance biomarker strategy for drug development. Personalis is based in Fremont, California.

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Nimbus Therapeutics Announces Expansion of Its Immunology Drug Discovery Pipeline

Nimbus Therapeutics | January 08, 2024

Nimbus Therapeutics, LLC a biotechnology company that designs and develops breakthrough medicines through its powerful computational drug discovery engine, announced the advancement and expansion of its pipeline with the addition of discovery programs targeting innate immunity pathways. These programs, targeting the salt-inducible kinase (SIK) family and cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS), represent promising opportunities to leverage Nimbus’ industry-leading computational and structure-based drug design expertise to develop highly selective, potent medicines addressing areas of significant unmet need. "Building on the success of our TYK2 program, we are broadening our drug discovery engine to unlock new difficult-to-drug targets with compelling biology,” said Peter Tummino, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Nimbus. “SIK and cGAS are critical targets in highly prevalent diseases that are well suited to Nimbus’ structure-based drug design approach. We look forward to advancing our discovery and development programs across oncology, immunology, and metabolism to deliver transformative medicines to patients.” Nimbus is advancing its Phase 1/2 trial (NCT05128487) of NDI-101150, a small molecule inhibitor of hematopoietic progenitor kinase 1 (HPK1), and has reported positive dose escalation data showing potential monotherapy clinical benefit for patients with solid tumors. Furthermore, the company expects to initiate IND-enabling activities this year for its oncology program targeting Werner syndrome helicase (WRN). In collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company, Nimbus continues to progress the development of novel targeted therapies that activate AMPK to potentially treat a broad range of metabolic disorders. Nimbus continues to expand its platform capabilities with ongoing investments in cutting-edge technology for drug discovery. Alongside proprietary computational tools which the company has developed in-house, Nimbus’ platform leverages state-of-the-art technology through collaborations such as its recently announced partnership with Anagenex, a leader in generative AI for drug design. Jeb Keiper, M.S., MBA, Nimbus’ Chief Executive Officer, will provide an overview of the company’s progress and pipeline and anticipated milestones for 2024 and beyond at the 42nd Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference on Monday, January 8, 2024 at 7:30 am PT. About Nimbus Therapeutics Nimbus Therapeutics is a clinical-stage, structure-based drug discovery company developing novel small molecule medicines designed to act against well-validated but difficult-to-drug targets implicated in multiple human diseases. Nimbus combines leading-edge computational technologies with a tailored array of machine learning-based predictive modeling approaches. Nimbus’ pipeline includes a clinical-stage HPK1 inhibitor for the treatment of cancer (NCT05128487), as well as a diverse portfolio of preclinical programs focused on cancer, autoimmune conditions, and metabolic diseases. Nimbus is headquartered in Boston, Mass.

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Medical

CCM Biosciences Announces Launch of 5Prime Sciences Business Unit

CCM Biosciences | January 01, 2024

Diversified biotechnology company CCM Biosciences (CCM Bio) announced the launch of its business unit CCM 5Prime Sciences (5Prime) focused on the development and application of proprietary technology in the domain of DNA biotechnology. 5Prime’s technology platform includes multiple patent-protected, globally commercialized compositions and methods for molecular cloning, next-generation DNA sequencing and molecular diagnostics. 5Prime has two focus areas: 1) in vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests: a wide array of companion diagnostics (CDx) tests for targeted cancer, rare disease, and prenatal/preimplantation diagnostics, developed using the droplet digital Polymerase Chain Reaction (ddPCR) and Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) methodologies, which accompany the personalized medicine therapeutic (Rx) pipeline of CCM Bio; 2) synthetic biology: engineered DNA- and RNA-manipulating enzymes that improve upon the enzymes used in IVD tests, in PCR reagents, and also in enzymatic DNA/RNA synthesis. Proven technology behind market-leading DNA sequencing products and diagnostic tests; including one of the 5 highest revenue-generating technologies invented in the history of Princeton University Focus areas 1 and 2 are based on the company’s patented technology originating in the PhD thesis work of Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Raj Chakrabarti at Princeton University. According to the Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing, patents in this portfolio, which are now controlled by 5Prime, are among the top 5 revenue-generating patents in the history of the university, having been commercialized in collaboration with companies such as Celera Diagnostics, Quest Diagnostics, Abbott, New England Biolabs, and Toyobo Life Sciences. Diagnostic tests and products based on the company’s intellectual property include the XSense test from Quest Diagnostics, which is the leading DNA-based carrier screening test for autism (Fragile X syndrome); and the Q5 polymerase kit marketed by New England Biolabs, which is the leading high-fidelity polymerase kit for DNA sequencing. In the context of molecular diagnostics, NGS is typically applied to diagnose in high-throughput the patterns of DNA mutations in genes. A related method called RNA-Seq, which applies NGS to RNA rather than DNA to measure real-time gene expression levels, has emerged as a foundation for modern personalized medicine. However, a notorious difficulty in both traditional NGS and RNA-Seq is sequence bias, which results in inaccurate estimates of the relative copy numbers of different genes and associated disease-causing mutations, and which has limited the transformative potential of these methods. ddPCR is a sensitive method for diagnosing mutations in specific disease-associated genes that is also limited by problems of sequence bias. 5Prime’s technology enables the efficient polymerization and amplification of nearly any DNA or RNA sequence to overcome sequence bias in nucleic acid amplification and associated diagnostic methods like NGS and ddPCR, the global markets for which were valued at $10B and $6B, respectively, in 2022 and expected to surpass $44B and $14B, respectively, by 2032. Its state-of-the-art synthetic biology platform for polymerase enzyme engineering generates proprietary polymerases with optimal properties for NGS or PCR-based diagnostic tests, by applying machine learning algorithms to the big data generated from ultrahigh-throughput, microfluidic experimental screening of enzyme activity. In addition, the company’s technology platform applies proprietary nonaqueous media and computational systems biology methods in conjunction with such enzymes to dramatically improve nucleic acid polymerization and amplification efficiency. About CCM Biosciences CCM Biosciences, Inc. is a biotechnology company dedicated to discovering and developing novel drugs - including small molecules, gene therapies, biologics, and nanomedicines - as well as associated companion diagnostics. CCM Bio’s patented molecular discovery platforms were developed at Chakrabarti Advanced Technology, a privately funded R&D institute founded in 2010 with scientists in the US, France and India and with publications in leading scientific journals including PNAS, Nucleic Acids Research, American Chemical Society journals and Nature Publishing Group journals. CCM Bio is partnered with the global chemical and pharmaceutical services company PMC Group, Inc. for fully integrated discovery, development and manufacturing of drugs and diagnostics.

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Industrial Impact

MOMA Therapeutics Announces Five-Year Discovery Collaboration with Roche Focused on Critical Cancer Dependencies

MOMA Therapeutics | January 04, 2024

MOMA Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on identifying and targeting highly dynamic, difficult to drug targets in cancer and other diseases, is pleased to announce a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement with Roche. This partnership provides Roche with access to MOMA’s proprietary KnowledgeBase platform for the identification and prosecution of a certain number of novel drug targets involved in promoting cancer cell growth and survival. MOMA’s KnowledgeBase comprises integrated structure-function capabilities, advanced lead-finding technologies and computation-enabled lead optimization. It was built upon the concept that functionally related targets lacking sequence homology still possess three dimensional structural motifs that can be exploited to produce highly impactful therapies. To date, MOMA has utilized this bespoke platform to accelerate drug discovery in the ATPase target class, a class with a high number of genetically validated targets for which industry efforts to identify therapeutically viable drugs have been hampered by the extent of dynamic protein motion. “Given its deep expertise and global footprint in oncology, Roche represents an ideal collaborator with whom to further advance the application of MOMA’s platform in a way that impacts patients’ lives. The vision for this collaboration was crafted jointly with Roche to enable each party to bring its strengths in pursuit of this shared goal. It also contributes to the long-term sustainability of MOMA’s core focus as we advance our rich pipeline of precision oncology programs to the clinic,” said Asit Parikh, M.D., Ph.D., chief executive officer of MOMA. Through the collaboration, MOMA will receive $66 million as an upfront cash payment and is also eligible to receive discovery, development, and commercialization milestone payments potentially exceeding US$2 billion, as well as tiered royalties. MOMA will be primarily responsible for all activities for selected targets through to development candidate confirmation, whereas Roche will be responsible for IND-enabling activities and clinical development and commercialization. Additionally, if multiple collaboration assets reach pivotal clinical studies, MOMA will receive a right to co-fund late-stage development of one product in exchange for increased royalties in the US on this product. “We are excited to join forces with MOMA, combining our leadership in oncology with MOMA’s deep expertise in drug discovery for difficult-to-drug and novel targets in oncology. The broader field of cancer dependencies is of high importance for Roche and we are looking forward to further deepening our knowledge and discovering novel targets involved in cancer cell growth and survival leveraging MOMA’s innovative platform,” said James Sabry, M.D., Ph.D., global head of pharma partnering, Roche. “It is exciting to utilize our industry-leading knowledge in how to identify and drug highly dynamic proteins to deliver on a breadth of discovery programs in partnership with Roche,” added Peter Hammerman, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific officer and head of development at MOMA. “Along with bringing two MOMA-owned high-impact programs to the clinic next year, we are making exciting progress towards our goal of addressing key unmet needs for patients living with advanced cancer.” About MOMA Therapeutics MOMA Therapeutics is committed to discovering the next generation of precision medicines by targeting highly dynamic proteins that underlie human disease. Bringing together seminal scientific advancements in biochemistry, biophysics, structural biology, chemistry, computation, and functional genomics, the company has established the KnowledgeBase platform to exploit a key vulnerability inherent to all dynamic proteins: their dependence on well-coordinated, stepwise changes in protein conformation. By focusing this platform on disease-causing targets, MOMA aims to develop high impact, precision medicines for patients with unmet medical needs. MOMA Therapeutics is a private company launched in 2020 with seasoned leadership, a highly specialized workforce with deep expertise in oncology discovery, world-class scientific founders, and financed by leading biotech investors.

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