This week in biotech, we could see a lot of interesting partnerships being formed and several important funding rounds closing, potentially leading to great breakthroughs in many areas of biotechnology. Nanofarm announced they will collaborate with Aprecia on printed nanomedicines, the CBD for women startup Equilibria celebrates its unprecedented growth, Synendos Therapeutics closes its Series A funding round with an extra portion of support, Porton Biologics that works on gene and cell therapy is closing its Series A funding, the only company in the world with an open R&D Data Cloud for scientific discovery is closing its Series B investing round, a Canadian startup works on an AI-powered software that will help in early diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, the Purdue University chemist finds a cost-effective way to synthesize a compound that can tackle a cancer protein that was previously believed to be “undruggable”, and Bharat Biotech vaccine is shown to be 100% effective against the severe Covid-19 disease, as shown by the Phase III results analysis.
Yesterday, Nanoform Finland Plc, a company focusing on innovative nanoparticle medicine announced their partnership with the 3DP (three-dimensional printing) pharma company Aprecia.
The collaboration aims at leveraging the technology of both companies in nanoparticle-enabled 3DP dosage forms which is expected to be a big contribution in various therapies.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the power of small for rapid drug absorption, potentially bypassing the first-pass metabolism via a novel dosage form such as buccal delivery with Aprecia’s 3DP technology platforms,” said Prof. Edward Hæggström, CEO of Nanoform. “We look forward to this exciting collaboration and to supporting our pharmaceutical partners with this unique offering for fast-acting and quick-dissolving nanomedicines,”
“The opportunity to join forces with Nanoform will enable new fast-acting and high performance buccal and oral dosage forms not previously seen in the industry,” Chris Gilmore, the CEO of Aprecia added. “With the first and only FDA approval for a product utilizing these leading edge 3DP technology platforms, along with the world’s only commercial scale equipment and manufacturing process, Aprecia is paving the way for our current partners and future customers to make the medication experience better for both the patient and the caregiver.”
The woman-focused CBD wellness brand, Equilibria, that was launched in 2019, is celebrating the 10x year over year growth, currently serving more than 100 000 women.
Equilibria combines their premium CBD with customer-centric dosage support that is individually chosen to each client by cannabis experts.
“The world did not need another CBD company,” said Coco Meers, CEO and co-founder of Equilibria. “Instead, we built Equilibria to fill a clear void in the market through a deep commitment to quality and education. Our mission has always been to restore balance to women; new R&D partnerships and growing personalization datasets allow us to double down on that mission.”
The company is an owner in their organic CBD farm and their goal is building the highly controlled genetics-to-bottle supply chain.
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The Swiss biopharma startup that works on restoring the natural functioning of the endocannabinoid system to treat Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders announced this week that their Series A funding expanded due to the contribution by Ysios Capital. Now, the investment stands at CHF 24 million.
“As we continue to make promising progress at Synendos, we are very pleased to announce this series of positive developments, which reflects a recognition of the potential our innovative approach presents in addressing unmet needs in CNS treatment.” Dr Andrea Chicca, Co-founder and CEO of Synendos Therapeutics, said.
PharmAbcine Inc, the SouthKorean clinical-stage biotech company that develops antibody therapeutics announced they are collaborating with MSD to start the phase II trial of olinvacimab, an anti-VEGFR2 antibody, and KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), MSD’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in metastatic Triple-Negative Breast Cancer(mTNBC)..
“Helping cancer patients is core to our mission. Based on the safety profile and early clinical efficacy observed in the phase Ib trial, we feel we have a responsibility to explore olinvacimab in combination with pembrolizumab in mTNBC patients further in phase II,” said Dr. Jin-San Yoo, CEO of PharmAbcine. “We will try our best so the multinational clinical study can begin in the first half of 2021.”
At the beginning of this week, the subsidiary of Porton Pharma Biologics, Suzhou Porton Biologics officially closed its Series A funding round, raising 400 million RMB. The investors include SDIC and GL Ventures, HM Capital, Huashan Ruilian and Momentum Venture.
Porton works on gene and cell therapy.
“This round of funding will further improve Porton Biologics’s capability in GCT field.” Mr. Ju Nianfeng, Chairman of Porton Pharma Solutions and CEO of Porton Biologics, said, ” The strategic investment of the top-tier institutions has opened up new horizons for Porton Biologics. We will strive to accelerate the establishment of an integrated gene and cell therapy service platform from drug discovery, process development to production, and provide customers with efficient and high-quality services, to advance gene and cell therapy in China and beyond. With an excellent team, management system, and state-of-the-art facilities, Porton Biologics is committed to establishing an integrated gene and cell therapy technology platform to provide customers around the world with an excellent service experience, thereby enabling public’s early access to good medicines.”
TetraScience is a company that can pride itself in creating the only cloud-native open R&D Data Cloud for scientific discovery that is currently available globally. This week, they have closed their Series B funding round, raising $80 million.
The round was co-led by new investors Insight Partners and Alkeon Capital and the funds will be utilized to grow the market capabilities, expand the technical capabilities, and grow the science teams.
“Experimental data is the world’s most important data asset and it’s essential that we unlock its potential across biopharma, energy, chemicals, materials, and agriculture to deliver more effective, safer, and less expensive solutions to humanity’s greatest challenges,” stated Patrick Grady, TetraScience CEO and Chairman. “TetraScience is committed to rapidly evolving global R&D from a project-based IT model to a product- and network-based paradigm which will transform discovery as we know it, offering unprecedented benefits to our customers and humanity.”
Imeka, a Canadian startup founded 10 years ago and a former partner of Pfizer’s neuro division is making great progress in their AI-powered tools to help early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, MS, and Parkinson’s.
The company leverages advanced imaging technology and AI to improve both the early diagnosis and effective treatment of several neurodegenerative diseases.
The startup’s technology maps out white matter in brain scans collected through diffusion MRI and builds 3D models of the nerves using tractography. Subsequently, their AI technology carefully analyzes the scans and measures the neurological inflammation, demyelination and axonal loss, that are all connected to neurodegenerative diseases.
“What we have is a platform that develops biomarkers based on imaging for drug development,” Bélanger said. “We’re working with CROs and with pharma companies to help them extract information from the white matter that they would not see otherwise.”
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Mingji Dai, professor of chemistry and a scientist at the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research has discovered how to synthesize a compound to fight cancer protein that was previously believed to be extremely difficult to treat, if not untreatable.
Dai studied the compound — curcusone D — that could help to tackle a protein that is found in many types of cancer and has previously not been responding to medicine.
His way of synthesizing it in a lab is both cost-effective and efficient. After testing the compounds on breast cancer cells, the researchers discovered it is extremely effective.
“Our compound can not only kill these cancer cells, it can stop their migration,” Dai said. “If we can keep cancer from metastasizing, the patient can live longer.”
The next step in the research process is testing the compound to make sure that it is not toxic to humans.
“Many of our most successful cancer drugs have come from nature,” Dai said. “A lot of the low-hanging fruit, the compounds that are easy to isolate or synthesize, have already been screened and picked over. We are looking for things no one has thought about before. Once we have the chemistry, we can build the molecules we’re interested in and study their biological function.”
Bharat Biotech Vaccine Found 100% Effective Against Severe Covid-19 Disease Based On The Phase 3 Trial
Bharat Biotech announced on Wednesday the latest efficacy data for the Phase III trial of Covaxin, the first home-grown Covid-19 vaccine of India. The vaccine that was developed together with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is currently one of two Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in India.
In the trial results, Bharat Biotech and the ICMR showed that the Covaxin has an overall efficacy of 78% and a 100% efficacy against the severe Covid-19 disease.
The Phase III research included almost 26 000 participants between 18 and 98 years of age.
“Efficacy against SARS-Cov-2 has been established. Covaxin has demonstrated an excellent safety record in human clinical trials and in usage under emergency use. Covaxin is now a global innovator vaccine derived from Research and Development from India. The efficacy data against severe covid-19 and asymptomatic infections is highly significant, as this helps reduce hospitalizations and disease transmission, respectively,” Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman & Managing Director, Bharat Biotech, said.
Millions of doses of Covaxin have already been administered in India and more than 60 countries globally have expressed their interest in importing the vaccine.
The final safety and efficacy results will be published in June and the final report will be submitted to a peer-reviewed publication.
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