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What’s Happening In BioTech? 23.04-29.04

BioMarin starts a collaboration aimed at helping develop therapies for central nervous system diseases. A new smartphone app for children can detect early autism signs in toddlers. Delix Therapeutics has just released a groundbreaking study regarding the newly found compound that shows strong antidepressant effects without being hallucinogenic. Caresyntac raises $100 million in their series C round. Eli Lily backs out of seeking emergency approval of their Alzheimer’s drug after FDA’s feedback. AstraZeneca starts a new partnership to build a bio-diagnostic innovation center. BioNTech is awaiting the trial results for the Covid-19 vaccine among young children. To find out more details about these and other biotech news, take a look at our newest biotech highlights covering the latest and most important developments in the biotechnology industry. We feature biotech treatments, ai solutions in biotechnology, startups, groundbreaking reports, and FDA approvals of the newest biotech therapies.  

Biotech Treatments: Delix Therapeutics Publishes A Groundbreaking Study

A preclinical biotech company, Deluxe Therapeutics, specializes in creating novel disease-modifying therapeutics for psychiatric and neurological diseases. Yesterday, the company released a groundbreaking study that reveals a new compound – DLX-1 – that shows a strong antidepressant effect without being hallucinogenic. 

The paper was authored by Delix Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Professor David E. Olson, Ph.D., in collaboration with  Lin Tian, Ph.D. Both are professors at the University of California, Davis. 

DLX-1—also known as AAZ— became the second published example of a non-hallucinatory compound by Delix Therapeutics. 

“Extensive research has clearly demonstrated the importance of neuroplasticity for achieving durable responses to antidepressants, and evidence continues to mount—suggesting that induced neuroplasticity can be harnessed without producing hallucinations. This paper represents a milestone in the evolution of psychedelics into safer and more widely accessible medicines.” said Olson.

“Delix applies the highest scientific rigor to develop, and eventually commercialize new Psychoplastogen-based medicines. If we hope to address the underserved needs of millions of mental health patients, we need safer, scaleable treatment options. Our focus is on contributing to–and extending–the promising scientific research related to psychedelics. The publication in Cell demonstrates that non-hallucinatory treatment options may be possible,” said Delix Therapeutics CEO Mark Rus. “DLX-1 is just the tip of the iceberg—one of many assets within the Delix platform. We look forward to continuing our preclinical and clinical studies as part of our mission to develop fast-acting, long-lasting, take-at-home medicines capable of treating a range of central nervous system disorders.”

AI In BioTech: New Smartphone App That Detects Autism Among Toddlers Based On Visual Movements 

A new smartphone app supported by the National Institutes of Health shows the capability to detect toddlers with autism, based on analyzing their eye movements reacting to social stimuli. 

The app is currently in the prototype phase, however, the preliminary study published in JAMA Pediatrics is illustrating promising results. 

The app uses the front-facing camera of a device to record eye movements of children interacting with the videos. The recorded patterns are then analyzed using computer vision and machine learning algorithms, trained to discover how each individual child tracks the social interactions displayed in the videos. 

After the results from the first stage of research, including 933 toddlers aged 16 to 38 months, the researchers are now looking at a larger study that will include a broader range of children, aiming at confirming the accuracy of heir app-based solution. 

“We hope that this technology will eventually provide greater access to autism screening, which is an essential first step to intervention. Our long-term goal is to have a well-validated, easy-to-use app that providers and caregivers can download and use, either in a regular clinic or home setting,” Geraldine Dawson, co-senior author of the study and director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, said in a release. “We have additional steps to go, but this study suggests it might one day be possible.”

AI In Biotech: CareSyntax Raises $100 Million In Their Series C Funding Round

Caresyntax, the Boston-based software company has just raised $100 million, more than double from the last financing round in 2019. The round was led by PFM Health Sciences, with contributions from existing and new backers such as Optum Ventures, Intel Capital, Lauxera Capital Partners, Vesalius Biocapital III, Arno Capital, Rezayat Investments, IPF Partners, the Relyens Group and Surgical.AI. The company will now be able to further their growth in the AI biotech solutions. 

The large investment reflects the unprecedented growth of the startup that has had a 250% growth in 2020. The latest financial boost will be used to continue the development of AI algorithms to power Caresyntax’s digital surgery analytics platform. The company also plans to make it accessible to more surgeons. 

The AI-powered software developed by CareSyntax analyzes data gathered through video, audio, and images from the operation room to provide the surgeons with real-time assistance. It also provides post-op analyses, churning out insights after the procedure is completed. 

Currently, the software is used in more than 4000 operating rooms worldwide, assisting in more than 2 million procedures annually. 

The company says its software is now used in more than 4,000 operating rooms around the world, offering its assistance in more than 2 million procedures each year.

“Operating rooms need to perform as effectively and efficiently as possible, and this is especially true now to make up for the surgical backlog driven by the pandemic,” CEO and founder Dennis Kogan said in a statement. “With better technology to safely automate surgical pathways while generating decision-grade real-world evidence, we will improve healthcare decision-making, mitigate surgical risks and advance high-value medical technology.” 

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Versiti Launches Covid-19 Antibody Test To Screen For Vaccine Related Blood Clots 

The world has been buzzing about the Covid-19 vaccine-related blood clots, with rare examples appearing after Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca’s jab. 

Now, a blood-testing company Versiti, launched an antibody test to identify patients that may be at risk of a blood clot appearing. 

Treating blood clots is usually done using a blood thinner heparin. However, it is not recommended for patients that carry specific platelet-activating antibodies. In their case, heparin can trigger a dangerous response that could worsen the original clots. Thus, screening for these antibodies can help the healthcare providers in identifying which patients require an alternative treatment. 

The screening includes an ELISA diagnostic for the PF4, a heparin-dependent antibody, followed by additional heparin-induced thrombocytopenia testing or serotonin release assays.

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Biotech Treatments: Eli Lilly Won’t Seek Emergency Approval For Its Alzheimers Drug After FDA’s Feedback 

On Tuesday, an Eli Lilly executive announced that the biotech will not seek for a faster review of their experimental Alzheimer’s disease drug after the feedback from the FDA. 

The executive said that the company continues discussions with the Food and Drug Administration and is exploring several possibilities for early submissions. 

The company will focus on a new study in presymptomatic Alzheimer’s patients, with the expected starting date later this year and a timeline of one year to complete the enrollment. Then, the disease progression will be measured after three years. 

The current results come from a small study including 257 patients. 

“We currently do not see a path forward for near-term submission and approval based on the first TRAILBLAZER-ALZ study alone,” the executive said on the conference call on Tuesday.

Biotech Treatments: BioMarin Collaborates With Allen Institute To Develop Gene Therapies For Central Nervous System Diseases 

On Wednesday, BioMarin Pharmaceutical announced it is launching a research collaboration with the Seattle-based Allen Institue, aiming at developing gene therapies for diseases of the central nervous system. 

The researchers from the Allen Institute modified adeno-associated viruses to carry a fluorescent tag to distinguish the specific cells. Both companies believe that this AAV vector can be extremely useful in developing gene therapies. 

Scientists from BioMarin and the Allen Institute will partner on evaluating the latter’s modified AAVs for potential use in creating precise CNS-targeted treatments. 

“Combining the Allen Institute’s leadership in large-scale genomic science in the central nervous system with BioMarin’s proven experience in developing transformational therapies for rare genetic diseases, lays the foundation to potentially deliver multiple investigational gene therapies to the clinic,” said Lon Cardon, BioMarin’s chief scientific strategy officer, in a statement. 

BioNTech Expects The Trial Covid-19 Vaccine Results In Babies 

BioNTech announced that by September, they expect the trial results from the studies testing the efficiency of their Covid-19 vaccine in children as young as 6 months old. 

“In July, the first results could be available for the five to 12-year-olds, in September for the younger children,” BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin told Spiegel. “If all goes well, as soon as the data is evaluated, we will be able to submit the application for approval of the vaccine for all children in the respective age group in different countries,” he said.

BioNTech and Pfizer this month applied for emergency approval of their vaccine among adolescents aged 12 to 15 in the United States. 

Biotech Treatments: Geneseeq And AstraZeneca Partner To Build A Bio-Diagnostic Innovation Center 

At the beginning of this week, Geneseeq Technology announced their partnership with AstraZeneca, aiming to establish a Bio-Diagnostic Innovation Center in Guangzhou, China. The center will focus on disease diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, combining Geneseeq expertise in clinical diagnostics tools and AstraZeneca’s experience in oncology therapeutics. 

“The spotlight for the future of cancer care is on the full-course management approach to bring greater benefits to patients, including perioperative monitoring for early-to-mid stage cancers, and cancer early screening and detection,” added by Dr. Yang Shao, the founder and CEO of Geneseeq China. “

The collaboration with AstraZeneca will allow Geneseeq to build its fourth core laboratory in South China. The company already has laboratories in Nanjing, Shanghai and Beijing. 

If you want to read more news about AI in biotech, different treatments, groundbreaking studies, and other biotechnology solutions, come back next week for a fresh portion of our weekly highlights. Meanwhile, you may be interested in:

Animal Usage in Biotechnology: Controversies vs. Possibilities

EU Regulations On Biotech In Agriculture



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