It’s News Roundup Time! Surgical Robots, CAR-T, and More…

Try as we might, we can’t cover everything that is out there, so relax, and check out some biotech news stories from the last couple of weeks. 

Drug Development 

  • A first-in-class drug developed by the French company Nanobiotix that can enhance the effect of radiotherapy has shown the potential to treat liver cancer in a phase I trial. The drug was approved in the EU earlier this year for the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma, and now shows promise in multiple types of cancer.
  • The Swiss company CRISPR Therapeutics and its US partner company ViaCyte have used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to produce stem cells that can evade the attacks of immune cells. The technology could one day be used to develop cell therapies for type 1 diabetes.
  • A preclinical drug developed by the Italian company Rottapharm Biotech has shown the potential to treat glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer with few treatments and a high mortality rate. The drug is designed to cross the blood-brain barrier and block the action of proteins that help the tumor to grow, such as vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2.

Collaborations

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  • The Belgian company Celyad has joined forces with the US company Be The Match Biotherapies to develop CAR T-cell immunotherapies for cancer using cells from donors. As part of the deal, Celyad will get access to bone marrow stem cells from over 20 million donors in Be The Match’s collection to support phase I trials of Celyad’s treatments.
  • The Cambridge-based company Crescendo Biologics has launched a collaboration with the universities of Oxford and Surrey to speed up the progress of its lead candidate cancer drug towards human trials. The protein drug is designed to activate immune T-cells within tumors while leaving T-cells outside of the tumor untouched to reduce side effects.   

Funding

  • The UK robotics company CMR Surgical has raised a huge Series C of €221M (£195M) to fund the development of a robot equipped with cameras and robotic arms that surgeons can use to carry out operations.
  • The Swiss company GenomSys has raised an €8.5M (CHF 9.3M) Series A round to finance the development of software that can make genomics files smaller and decrease the time and costs of analyzing genomic data.

Other

Academic research

  • An academic at the Graz University of Technology, Austria, has developed software that lets companies simulate the fermentation of drugs from bacteria to better design the production system. The software is able to produce simulations in just hours rather than the days that current simulation software takes.
  • Scientists at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, have discovered that some types of immune B-cells help immune T-cells to fight the skin cancer melanoma. Screening for these B-cells could let physicians better predict which patients will benefit from immunotherapies.

Image via E. Resko

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