More News! Lynparza strikes again, the avocado genome sequenced, the TARDIS, and more…

Try as we might, we can’t cover all the fascinating biotech news that is out there. So chill out, relax and check out what hasn’t quite made the cut over the last week. 

Clinical trials

  • Lynparza, AstraZeneca’s approved drug for treating ovarian and breast cancer, has sailed through a phase III trial for treating prostate cancer in patients with specific mutations, lengthening the list of cancers that could be treated by the soon-to-be blockbuster drug.
  • The Swiss biotech Basilea announced that its EMA-approved pneumonia antibiotic has shown phase III promise for treating bacterial skin infections in hospitals, providing another possible weapon in the arsenal for tackling drug-resistant skin infection.

Collaborations

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  • Takeda has joined forces with the UK arm of the Japanese pharma company Sosei Heptares. The deal is worth up to €1.3B and will involve developing antibody and small molecule drugs that can treat gastrointestinal diseases by blocking cell surface proteins known as G protein-coupled receptors.
  • The Spanish company ADL Bionatur Solutions, which specializes in industrial fermentation, announced a collaboration with an undisclosed Japanese pharma company. Under the deal, ADL is to provide pharmaceutical ingredients and receive €13M over the next five years.
  • The UK company BenevolentAI has teamed up with the US biotech Neuropore Therapies to use AI to discover new targets and drugs for undisclosed progressive degenerative diseases. 

Regulations and finance

  • The Swedish bioink biotech Cellink has acquired the German bioprinting company Cytena for €30.3M to widen Cellink’s access to pharmaceutical clients wanting bioprinted tissue as a drug development tool.
  • The Israeli agricultural genomics company Evogene announced that the US company Corteva Agriscience now has a 30% stake in Lavie Bio, Evogene’s subsidiary developing bio-pesticides and plant stimulants based on the microbiome.
  • The German molecular diagnostics biotech GNA Biosolutions has raised a Series C round of €12.1M ($13.5M) to fund the development of technology able to amplify DNA faster than conventional methods, allowing fast diagnosis of infectious diseases and other conditions.
  • The UK company Antikor Biopharma has received a €2.8M ($3.1M) investment from the Hong Kong company Essex Bio-Investment to fund the development of small antibody-drug conjugates for the treatment of solid tumors. 
  • The French biotech Biom’up announced that it has issued bonds to raise €5M, which will help to fund the commercialization of Hemoblast Bellows, a powder designed to reduce blood loss in surgery.

Products and Services

  • The Austrian biotech a:head has been launched to develop drugs treating neurological disorders based on organoids made of brain tissue. 
  • A device using sensors to non-invasively monitor blood diagnostics in newborn infants, such as oxygen saturation, has obtained a CE mark, clearing it for market launch. Developed by the Swiss company Masimo, the device is designed to beat current equipment by monitoring babies’ blood continuously in real-time.

Research

  • A research team at the University of Trento, Italy, and KU Leuven, Belgium, has used CRISPR gene editing to correct mutations in organoids from patients with the genetic disease cystic fibrosis. According to the researchers, this advance could one day lead to a potential CRISPR gene therapy for the rare disease.
  • The genome of the humble avocado has been sequenced for the first time by an international collaboration of scientists, including academics based in Spain and Belgium. The breakthrough could one day lead to better breeding techniques in avocado farming, which is good news for guacamole lovers around the world.
  • Researchers at the University of Bath, UK, have developed a tuberculosis vaccine that is stable at room temperature by coating it in layers of silica. The team hopes this technology will avoid the expensive refrigeration currently needed for transportation of most vaccines, allowing them to reach people living in hot and impoverished communities more easily.
  • An international collaboration involving scientists at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute has developed a blood test that could help doctors to monitor the progress of breast cancer by measuring circulating tumor DNA. Dubbed TARDIS (TARgeted DIgital Sequencing), the test could be up to 100 times more sensitive than current tests.

Image via E. Resko

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