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Experimental Therapeutics Centre and Debiopharm Group to Collaborate for the Development of an Epigenetic Innovative Oncology Target

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)’s Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC), a center of excellence to advance and accelerate drug discovery in Singapore, and Debiopharm Group™ (Debiopharm), the Swiss-based global biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the development of prescription drugs that target unmet medical needs including oncology as well as companion diagnostics, recently announced the signature of an exclusive research collaboration to develop oral small molecules targeting new class of epigenetic modulators.

Under the terms of the agreement, Debiopharm and ETC will co-finance the discovery phase of the project, whilst Debiopharm will be in charge of development.

Ganymed Pharmaceuticals Announces CE Marking for Test to Assess Claudin-18.2 Expression in Solid Tumors

Ganymed Pharmaceuticals announced today that it has fully developed and obtained CE marking for its in vitro diagnostic (IVD) test CLAUDETECTTM18.2 which allows to assess the expression levels of Claudin-18.2 (CLDN18.2) in solid tumors. CLAUDETECTTM18.2, which was developed in collaboration with Theracode GmbH, is now compliant with the requirements of European Community Directive 98/79/EC on in vitro diagnostic medical devices.

Sanguine BioSciences Signs Agreements with More than 200 Partners to Enable Efficient Personalized Medicine Research

Sanguine BioSciences, a biotechnology company enabling personalized medicine research, today announced that it has signed commercial agreements with, and received orders from, more than 200 biomedical researchers at academic, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, to enable more efficient personalized medicine research. Ongoing agreements are in place with a wide range of organizations, ranging from startups, such as Inhibrx, to contract research organizations, such as Applied Immunology, and major drug developers, such as Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Sanguine directly engages patients diagnosed with severe and chronic diseases to collect and de-identify biospecimen, medical history and other data that can be used in biomarker research. Traditional methods are to obtain biospecimen through hospitals, but this process can result in months of delays as the focus for physicians and staff is on diagnosis and treatment, not facilitating research efforts. By engaging patients directly, Sanguine can meet the needs of researchers and offer timely turnaround of biospecimen and medical data with diverse ranges for age, race, disease state, gender and treatments underway. The patient engagement tactics used by the company have led to a 95 percent retention rate, which also allow for follow-up draws for longitudinal studies.

“In a very short amount of time, and with only recently hiring our first few sales executives, our company has established agreements with ten of the largest drug developers in the world and continues to see high demand for our offering,” said Brian Neman, founder and chief executive officer of Sanguine. “Researchers have specific needs to complete studies in early discovery work, sometimes run with blood samples drawn the same day and other times requiring follow-up draws on exact time schedules, but traditional strategies to obtain these add months to the timeline. Our commitment to patient engagement, transparency and advocacy removes much of this wait time – accelerating the research and increasing the efficiency of the process overall.”

Sanguine is able to meet, review disclosures and collect blood samples in a patient’s home with its own phlebotomists in multiple major U.S. cities. Patients are also able to track how their de-identified biospecimen and data are used through the donor web portal. The company is able to collect and process blood from patients with any disease and has already built large libraries in multiple chronic and severe conditions, including Huntington’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and others.

In order to maintain appropriate confidentiality, all samples are de-identified immediately upon collection. Sanguine maintains and reviews internal ethical guidelines for the procedures under high scrutiny from an independent review board.

Source: PR Newswire

Takeda and Zinfandel Pharmaceuticals Initiate Phase 3 TOMMORROW Trial of AD-4833 for the Delay of Onset of Mild Cognitive Impairment Due to Alzheimer’s Disease in Subjects Selected Using a Genetic-Based Biomarker Risk Assignment Algorithm

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (“Takeda”) and its partner, Zinfandel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Zinfandel”), recently announced the initiation of TOMMORROW, a global Phase 3 clinical trial investigating a genetic-based biomarker risk assignment algorithm (risk assignment algorithm) to predict risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) within a five year period and to evaluate the efficacy of the investigational low dose pioglitazone (designated AD-4833 for this use) in delaying the onset of MCI due to AD in cognitively normal individuals at high risk as determined by the risk assignment algorithm.

The risk assignment algorithm is comprised of apolipoprotein E (APOE) and TOMM40 genotypes and age. Age and APOE genotype have previously been shown to indicate elevated risk of AD. The addition of TOMM40 is hypothesized to further refine the risk determination.

“To date, there have been a number of avenues investigated with the goal of altering the course of Alzheimer’s disease but results have been unsuccessful,” said Allen Roses, M.D., Chief Executive Officer, Zinfandel. “This is why the TOMMORROW trial is important. The potential to identify an individual’s risk for developing MCI due to AD warrants further investigation.”

AD is a devastating disease and diagnoses are increasing as the world’s population ages. Currently 35.6 million people worldwide are living with some form of dementia. Studies show that individuals with MCI are at an increased risk of developing AD or another dementia with conversion rates of approximately 15 percent per year.

“AD-4833 is a member of a class of drugs known as PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor)-gamma agonists which available data show may have a beneficial role in delaying symptoms of MCI due to AD,” noted Stephen Brannan, M.D., Central Nervous System Development Therapeutic Area Head, Takeda. “TOMMORROW is a significant study and represents a novel clinical milestone and trial for the Alzheimer’s community as it evaluates pre-symptomatic patients.”

Source: Taleda Pharmaceutical Company Limited

University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Licensing Deals Fuel Local Life Sciences Community

University of Maryland (UM) Ventures recently announced agreements between University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and five different life sciences companies across the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region. The companies include Montgomery County-based Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, Baltimore County-based Plasmonix, Prince Georges County-based IGI Technologies, Howard County-based A&G Pharmaceuticals, and Frederick County-based BioAssay Works. These deals are part of UM Ventures’ continual efforts to accelerate technology commercialization, advance industry collaboration, and support projects with commercial value at both the Baltimore and College Park campuses of the university.

“UMB is very excited to collaborate with these companies, each an innovator in its own right,” said Phil Robilotto, Assistant Vice President, Office of Technology Transfer, UMB. “These types of collaborations are at the core of our mission to channel the expertise of our industry partners and highlight our efforts to support the Maryland biotechnology community.”

UMB/Rexahn Exclusive License Agreement: In June 2013, UMB and Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing the next generation of cancer drugs, executed an exclusive license agreement for a novel drug delivery platform, Nano-Polymer-Drug Conjugate Systems (NPDCS), which was co-developed by researchers with the University of Maryland (UM) School of Pharmacy in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, including Assistant Professor Anjan Nan, Ph.D. Rexahn’s platform uses existing chemotherapeutic agents, delivering them directly into cancer tumors. The UMB/Rexahn collaboration began after the company and a team of UMB researchers received a Maryland
Industrial Partnership (MIPS) award. The MIPS program is aimed at technology acceleration, providing funds that are matched by Maryland companies to support university-based research.

UMB/Plasmonix License Agreement: Also in June 2013, UMB entered into a license agreement with Plasmonix for a pathogen detection technology. Plasmonix focuses on the enhancement of luminescent signals through advanced use of metal nanoparticles, applying its technology in life science and diagnostic assays. Joseph Lakowicz, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology within the UM School of Medicine, invented the licensed UMB technology. His laboratory focuses on advancement of fluorescence compositions and methods for use in both research and commercial applications.

UMB Option Agreements with IGI Technologies/A&G Pharmaceuticals: UMB also executed option agreements (giving each company the exclusive right to evaluate a university technology for a short period of time prior to executing a full license agreement) during June 2013 with IGI Technologies and A&G Pharmaceuticals, both university start-ups, although at different stages of company development. Founded by Raj Shekhar, Ph.D., and William Plishker, Ph.D., former UM School of Medicine researchers from the Department of Diagnostic Radiology, IGI Technologies is an emerging start-up developing high-speed medical image registration technology through a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A&G Pharmaceuticals, which was founded as a UMB startup in 2007, is discovering and developing theranostics (drug/test combinations) that improve screening, detection, and treatment of cancer. The company also offers custom antibody development through its service division – Precision AntibodyTM. UMB’s option agreement with A&G Pharmaceuticals is to explore the potential for the company’s development of a new cancer diagnostic test based on the tissue biomarker research of lead inventor Yun Qiu, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology, UM School of Medicine.

UMB/BioAssay Works Commercial Evaluation and Option Agreement: In September 2012, UMB entered into a commercial evaluation and option agreement with BioAssay Works to evaluate a Staph aureus diagnostic technology based on the work of lead inventor, Mark E. Shirtliff, Associate Professor, Department of Microbial Pathogenesis, with a dual appointment in UM Schools of Dentistry and Medicine. Dr. Shirtliff studies bacterial biofilms, a mode of growth where pathogens such as Staph aureus become resistant to conventional therapy. He was
awarded the 2013 BioMaryland LIFE Prize for his promising Staph vaccine work. BioAssay Works focuses on antibody-based and antigen-based detection technologies, and on their application in lateral-flow immunoassay. The partnership between BioAssay Works and UMB may lead to the development of a rapid and sensitive test for Staph, in particular the treatment-resistant type (“MRSA”).

Since UM Ventures launched in 2012, the University has helped faculty entrepreneurs manage and commercialize their discoveries, and has helped student entrepreneurs participate in and lead real-world early-stage business ventures. UMB and UMCP startups include a wide range of success stories. UM Ventures provides resources, funding, and expertise to help startups bring innovative technologies to the market.

Source: University of Maryland