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Humankind's greatest infectious threats are posed by viruses. Even before COVID-19 made a global impact on health and economies, Dengue and West Nile Virus have long been endemic threats in warmer parts of the world and Zika emerged as a local threat in South America. As climate change drives insect migration, these viruses may soon pose a threat outside their current ranges. https://www.protinhi.com/ (Protinhi) have a new approach to developing treatments for these viral diseases, with a program leading on Dengue. Viruses replicate within a host cell after infection using a virally encoded protease. These proteases present a target for Protinhi's innovative small molecule compounds that inhibit this process, blocking viral replication. Protinhi is currently in the discovery phase and preclinical phase for their compounds. Their work is supported by https://www.health-holland.com/ (Health Holland) and https://oostnl.nl/nl (Oost NL).
11 min 45 sec
Epigenetics is the study of the changes that occur on top of the DNA without changing the genome sequence. These still affect the expression of our genes, and thereby shape our phenotype. Like the genome, epigenetic traits can be inherited. But unlike the genes, epigenetic traits are flexible and can be lost or regained and are influenced by our lifestyle. This makes them a tantalizing pharmaceutical target. EpiQMAx is a spin-out from https://www.lmu.de/en/ (LMU University) based on an idea from Prof. Axel Imhof, Dr. Moritz Voelker-Albert and Dr. Victor Solis who have worked in the Histone Modifications group at the https://www.en.bmc.med.uni-muenchen.de/index.html (BioMedical Center in Munich). Backed up by their knowledge and experience on mass spectrometry and epigenetic modifications, their goal is to contribute to the development of epigenetic drugs, together with the pharmaceutical industry. In this episode of BioInnovation Spotlight, we talk to Moritz Voelker-Albert about how EpiQMAx came about, how epigenetics can be used to inform us on our health, and his future plans for the company.
12 min 30 sec
Neoantigens are new proteins that form on cancer cells when certain mutations occur in tumour DNA. These proteins may play an important role in helping the body make an immune response against cancer cells. https://myneo.me/en (MyNEO) has developed a bioinformatic platform for identifying, exploring and validating alterations leading to neoantigens on cell surfaces which can be used in personalised immunotherapy and target discovery applications, as well as diagnosis and prognosis of patients. In this episode of BioInnovation Spotlight @ LifeScience ORG, we speak to MyNEO founder Cedric Bogaert and discuss his vision to transform personalised immunotherapy for cancer as well as help researchers discover new targets and aid in clinical diagnosis. The myNEO technology has been in development since 2017. In late 2018, the platform was incorporated into the myNEO company by http://noval.is/ (Novalis Biotech Incubation).
14 min 55 sec
Access to chemical matter is a major bottleneck in drug discovery. Established industry standards and screening methods often fail to deliver molecular starting points for drug design. Despite accumulating large collections of compounds and screening millions of molecules, the industry struggles to unlock chemical matter. Serghei Glinca founded https://www.crystalsfirst.com/ (CrystalsFirst) as a spin-out from https://agklebe.pharmazie.uni-marburg.de/ (Prof. Dr Gerhard Klebe's group at the University of Marburg), Germany, leveraging the lab's recently developed Smart Soak technology. In this episode of BioInnovation Spotlight, Serghei talks about how CrystalsFirst aims to revolutionize the drug discovery process by targeting previously undruggable targets using the power of their protein crystallization technology and data-driven modelling.
14 min 57 sec
Muscle diseases come in a variety of forms. Among the more common conditions are muscle wasting, which can occur in cancer patients and the elderly. But there are also hundreds of genetically caused muscle diseases as well as local muscle defects that altogether affect more than 15 million in Europe. MyoPax is a muscle stem cell-producing platform for the treatment of muscle defects and genetic muscular dystrophies. It combines its proprietary first-in-class muscle stem cell manufacturing technology with CRISPR/Cas9-based gene repair. The first muscle stem cell product will enter a clinical trial soon (beginning of 2022). The founding of MyoPax as spin-off of the Charité University Medicine and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin is planned for this year. The group is a pre-spinout group at the Max Delbrueck Center and Charité – Universitätsmedizin in Berlin, Germany, whose work is suppored by https://www.spark-bih.de/ (SPARK Berlin). In this episode of https://www.lifescienceorg.com/bioinnovation (BioInnovation Spotlight @ LifeScience ORG) Verena talks about the impact of muscle disease, MyoPax's technology and how it works, and their plans to spin out.
14 min 43 sec
The ageing process afflicts all of us and is the underlying cause of many diseases, creating a significant social and economic impact. Despite humanity's increased longevity in recent decades, the quality of life in our twilight years does not often match up. Dr Daniel Ives is the CEO of https://shiftbioscience.com/ (Shift Bioscience), based at the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge, UK. They have identified a list of genes involved in the ageing process and seek to reinstate cellular functional states that support us in earlier life. By targeting stressors and pathways linked to the abrupt bioenergetic, epigenetic and transcriptional state changes observed in aging cells and tissues, Shift aims to modulate these changes with small molecules, guided by powerful technologies including the epigenetic aging clock. In this episode of https://www.lifescienceorg.com/bioinnovation (BioInnovation Spotlight @ LifeScience ORG) Daniel talk about the motivations behind his research and the age-related conditions it may help. Shift Bioscience is supported by https://www.babraham.com/accelerate-babraham/ (Accelerate@Babraham).
14 min 31 sec
This week on https://www.lifescienceorg.com/bioinnovation (BioInnovation Spotlight) I am joined by Dr Maria Vistnes who is based at the University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital, and whose work is https://www.uio.no/english/research/strategic-research-areas/life-science/innovation/spark/ (supported by SPARK Norway). Maria has developed a novel concept for treating heart failure based on enzyme inhibition that has a potential first-in-class use of drugs modulating the extracellular matrix. Heart failure is the end-stage of all types of heart disease and is a result of cardiac remodeling, which indicates structural changes of the heart muscle. There are 23 million patients living with heart failure, characterised by impaired pumping and/or relaxation of the heart. Half of the population has reduced pumping function, and they receive therapies with modest effects on mortality. The other half, which has preserved pumping function, lacks treatment options completely. The mortality rates are high in both subpopulations, reaching 40 % over 2.5 years. In recent years, it has become clear that breakdown of the proteins in the space between the heart cells, called extracellular matrix (ECM), contribute to heart failure development. In failing rat and human hearts, Maria's group has found increased activity of an enzyme and they believe that inhibition of this enzyme can address the need for improved therapies in the whole heart failure population.
12 min 35 sec
As a rule, prevention is often better than cure. When it comes to personal health, we often rely on our doctor and regular check ups to tell us how our body is doing and what we can do to improve. Now, in the age of modern diagnostics, we can take our health firmly in our own hands. In this episode of BioInnovation Spotlight, we talk to Dr Nina Patrick, the CEO and co-founder of https://www.miprobes.de/ (MiProbes), an early stage company based in Berlin. MiProbes is developing diagnostics that allow instant at-home health tracking and optimisation. Nina originally worked in San Francisco biotechs before coming to Europe to start her company. Her technology combines DNA biosensors which can be rapidly scaled with computer algorithms in an app to help people track and improve their health.
10 min 20 sec
Traditional vaccines lack specificity in activating the immune system and can take quite a long time to design and produce. Dr Gunnveig Grødeland at the University of Oslo is developing a DNA Vaccine platform that aims to make vaccines much more specific. DNA can encode the sequence to an antigen fused to a protein that presents it to immune cells specifically, resulting in higher efficacies than traditional vaccines. DNA is an ideal platform for vaccine development, as it can be rapidly and safely synthesized compared to traditional vaccines. Gunnveig's work has already proven effective in animal tests and the project is keen to spin out. The work is supported by https://www.uio.no/english/research/strategic-research-areas/life-science/innovation/spark/ (SPARK Norway). In this episode of https://www.lifescienceorg.com/bioinnovation (BioInnovation Spotlight @ LifeScience ORG), we learn from Gunnveig how her technology works, what has the pandemic and RNA vaccines meant for her innovation, and why she wants to be an entrepreneur.
9 min 54 sec
Solid tumors make up 90% of the cases in cancer patients worldwide but the standard of care has not changed in decades. Chemotherapies are still widely used and are non-specific, often with a wide range of negative side effects for the patient. To address this, Dr Felix Lorenz and his team started the Captain T-Cell project. Based at the Max Delbrück Center in Berlin and supported by https://www.go-bio.de/en/index.html (GO-Bio) and https://www.spark-bih.de/ (SPARK Berlin), they are developing a T-cell receptor (TCR) therapy for tackling solid tumors in a targeted and safe manner for cancer patients. TCRs have the ability to target a wide range of antigens and can be expressed intracellularly, which is important for recognizing those antigens that are not transported to the cell surface. Their technology relies on engineering a patient's own T-cells to recognize specific antigens for solid tumors and reinfused back to the patient where they can find and kill the tumor with high specificity. Initially, they are targeting Epstein-Barr Virus antigens that are expressed throughout tumors called by this disease. In this episode of the BioInnovation Spotlight podcast, we ask Felix what technology lies behind the Captain T-Cell project, how it can help transform cancer therapy for patients, and why he wanted to start a company.
12 min 13 sec
A Podcast Series produced for and with LifeScience ORG Molecular Microbiologist and Podcast Producer, Dr David Kirk, talks to the people behind early-stage translational life science across Europe whose innovative research today may be the blockbusters and game-changing technologies of tomorrow. Join the conversation: www.lifescienceorg.com Episode length: 12-15 Minutes