More News! Cellulose water purifiers, artificial cells, tickling therapies, and more…

Try as we might, we can’t cover all the fascinating biotech news that is out there. So chill out, relax and have a read of what didn’t make the cut over the last week. 

Products and services

  • The Swedish company BioInvent announced that it has selected its first cancer immunotherapy drug target in a collaboration with Pfizer, making it eligible to receive a milestone payment of €270k.
  • The German health screening company cerascreen has developed an epigenetic test that can measure whether the user’s body is aging faster or slower than average. Co-developed with researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute, Germany, the test could help to guide lifestyle changes to slow the aging process.

Regulations and finance

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  • The Swiss pharmaceutical company Santhera has licensed its EMA-approved genetic blindness treatment Raxone to the Italian pharmaceutical company Chiesi Farmaceutici in a deal worth up to €93M. Chiesi will have rights to commercialize the small molecule drug for the treatment of the rare blindness condition Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) and other blindness conditions in all territories except the US and Canada.
  • The UK biotech CustoMem recently changed its name to Puraffinity, and has raised €3.2M ($3.6M) in a seed round to finance the development of cellulose membranes produced through synthetic biology that can trap pollutants in water systems.
  • The Belgian biotech Rewind Therapeutics has received a €2.9M grant from the Belgian government’s Agency for Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) to develop first-in-class drugs to treat neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
  • The public investment bank Bpifrance has given the French company ImCheck Therapeutics a grant of €2M to fund the entry of a cancer immunotherapy into phase I, which is expected in early 2020.

Collaborations

  • Novo Nordisk has extended a collaboration with the UK genomics company e-therapeutics to discover new drugs for type 2 diabetes by analyzing the genomes of patients with the condition to find potential target genes.
  • An international academic and industrial collaboration led by the German company Evotec has launched to accelerate the development of drugs able to tackle antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  
  • Bayer has teamed up with the UK artificial intelligence company Sensyne Health to accelerate the development of treatments for cardiovascular diseases by analyzing clinical and genomic data to identify subgroups of patients that could benefit the most from different drugs.

Early-stage research

  • Scientists at the University of Warwick, UK, have developed a material that protects cells from being damaged when frozen, which could let cell therapies be transported between centers with fewer cells dying on the trip.
  • An epigenetic test developed by a UK research group has beaten current diagnostic methods at identifying people with cervical disease who are at highest risk of developing cervical cancer.
  • Scientists at Imperial College London, UK, reported that they have developed artificial cells that are able to sense and react to the environment, which could one day provide smart drug delivery devices in the body.
  • Researchers based at KU Leuven, Belgium, have developed a blood test capable of predicting whether a kidney transplant patient’s immune system will reject the organ, all without needing to take an invasive kidney biopsy.
  • A research team at the University of Leeds, UK, gave volunteers in their 50s a therapy involving ‘tickling’ the ear with small electrical currents. The therapy improved the volunteers’ sleep and mood, and could help to fight common age-related conditions including depression and cardiovascular disease.

Image via E. Resko

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