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Infographic – Drug Overdose Epidemic Accelerating

Chart: drug overdose deaths

Click on image for full-size view (Statista)

24 July 2021. While the public’s attention for the past 18 months has been focused on Covid-19, the problem of opioid overdoses and deaths is still with us, and getting worse. Data on drug overdose deaths from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are displayed on a chart published last week by the business research company Statista.

CDC’s data show drug overdose deaths in the U.S. from 1999 through 2019, with provisional data from 2020 added in. For 2019 and 2020, the data show a sharp upward spike in drug overdose deaths, exceeding 92,000 in 2020, some 5.5 times more than the 16,849 overdose deaths in 1999. Only in one year, 2018, did the number of drug overdose deaths drop, a 5.6 percent decline in 2018.

CDC says most of the drug overdose deaths in 2019 are from synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl, as well as psychostimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine, and abuse of prescription opioids. The agency reports increasing cases of overdose deaths from multiple drugs, which increases the complexity of treating these cases. Social isolation from the Covid-19 pandemic is believed to contribute to the recent jump in drug overdoses.

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Biotech Opens Gene Therapy Manufacturing Facility

Adeno-associated virus

Adeno-associated virus diagram (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab)

23 July 2021. A biotechnology company serving gene therapy developers is opening a manufacturing facility for engineered viruses that deliver gene therapies. Capsida Biotherapeutics Inc. is opening the production labs and plant in Thousand Oaks, California, near the company headquarters in Newbury Park.

Capsida Biotherapeutics, a two year-old enterprise, creates engineered adeno-associated viruses to deliver gene therapies. Adeno-associated viruses or AAVs are benign, naturally occurring microbes that infect cells, but do not integrate with the cell’s genome or cause disease, and generate at most a mild immune response. Capsida says it modifies AAV capsids to reduce adverse events from gene therapies with better targeting that limits off-target effects and also makes possible lower treatment doses. Capsids are protein shells that carry, protect, and deliver viral genomes.

Much of the company’s work is devoted to gene therapies for inherited central nervous system disorders. As reported by Science & Enterprise in June, Capsida and Crispr Therapeutics are collaborating on design of gene therapies for treating familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and Friedreich’s ataxia, both inherited diseases. The collaboration aims to create and produce gene therapies for in vivo therapies — those that work inside the body — using the gene-editing technique Crispr.

Meeting GMP standards

Capsida says its new 15,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that meets good manufacturing practice or GMP standards will have two production suites, a fill suite, and quality-control labs. The plant expects to employ single-use equipment when possible, to enable quick changeovers for manufacturing subsequent products, and use unidirectional flow to increase environmental control. The company anticipates 40 to 50 people working at the plant.

“One of our key strategic priorities at Capsida is to create therapies that can be manufactured consistently and rapidly while maintaining the highest quality,” says Rayne Waller, Capsida’s chief manufacturing officer in a company statement. Our new manufacturing facility eliminates the dependence on contract manufacturing which will allow us to bring products seamlessly from discovery into clinical studies faster.”

Rob Murphy, vice president of manufacturing at Capsida adds, “The faster we are able to produce clinical supplies, the faster we’ll be able to get our innovative gene therapies to the patients who need them. ”

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Save On Energy With These Tips

– Contributed content –

CFL bulb

(Zain Ali, Pexels. https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-cfl-bulb-542619/)

23 July 2021. Right now, we’re sweating it out in July which means it’s the summer. During these months, you may think about the fact you’re finally saving some money on not using the heating, but that doesn’t mean that you’re saving energy. You want to remain cool in the summer months, and that’s why you’ve been cranking up the AC and cooling off after a long day in the sunshine. The thing is, you need to also prepare your home right now for the change in the weather ahead.

Staying comfortable throughout the summer is easy with air conditioning, but it’s the cooler months that are more expensive when it comes to staying comfortable. There are plenty of ways, though, that you can ensure that the energy industry is getting what’s needed from you and no more. This allows you to stick to your budget as much as possible. If you want to go the distance and save as much energy as possible this winter, you need to follow the tips below.

  1. Start looking at your thermostat and the temperature you set it to. Every single time you go above 20 degrees, you are adding more money to your heating bill. Keep your thermostat between 18 and 20 degrees and don’t change it. You can ensure that your home stays warm enough no matter the outside temperature!
  2. Close all of the doors for the rooms that you’re not using. If you only heat the rooms in which you spend the most time, you are going to make good savings on your energy bill. Shutting the doors keeps the heating in, and the rooms will stay warm through the day.
  3. Where you remember, turn off your devices and appliances and don’t leave them plugged in overnight if you can avoid it. You’ll save far more energy when you turn things off at the outlet rather than leave them on standby all night.
  4. Don’t run half loads of the washer – always fill them up. The same is true for your dishwasher if you have one. You can save yourself a ton of money and energy use if you only wash either of these when they’re full up.
  5. Switch off your lights! It’s nice to pop on a hall light for overnight with the kids, but you should think about turning it off and using battery operated nightlights, instead. You need to save as much energy as possible and your lights can use more than you think they can.
  6. Speaking of lights, switch the bulbs to LED lightbulbs. You will use less energy, the bulb won’t get so hot. LED lights use far less energy than any other type of lightbulb, and you can see such a difference almost immediately in your energy bills when you make the switch.
  7. Swap the dryer for the sunshine. If you live in a good weather area, consider getting rid of your dryer. You can use the power of the sun to dry your clothes and that’ll be a free way to get it done quickly.

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Covid-19 Delta Variant Testing Reference Released

Covid-19 testing

(FEMA.gov)

22 July 2021. A company designing synthetic DNA and RNA says reference materials are available for tests that detect the quickly spreading Covid-19 delta variant. Twist Bioscience Corp. in South San Francisco, California says the reference materials are produced for genomic testing and surveillance systems to detect delta and other variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19.

Twist Bioscience develops synthetic genetic materials on a silicon platform, patterned after semiconductors, instead of traditional plastic plates and receptacles. This process, says the company, overcomes conventional limitations and inefficiencies to design and construct genes, oligonucleotide collections for Crispr genome-editing RNA, and libraries of genetic variations. Twist says its process based on semiconductors makes it possible to reduce the chemical reaction volumes required, but at the same time increase production throughput by a factor of 1,000. As a result, says the company, it can produce 9,600 genes on a single chip, while traditional plastic lab plates produce a single gene in the same space.

Tracking the spread of infections from SARS-CoV-2 mutations is becoming as important to health authorities as monitoring all Covid-19 infections. Among the company’s products are RNA controls for calibrating high-speed genetic analysis systems, also known as next-generation sequencing, to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 viruses in test specimens. These analytics are used to detect viruses in reverse transcription – polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, tests for SARS-CoV-2, the so-called gold standard for Covid-19 infection testing.

RNA reference materials for delta and other variants

Twist Bioscience says RNA controls are designed to match precise variations in RNA from the original SARS-CoV-2 virus, reflecting changes in the surface protein on coronavirus spikes. That spike protein, which binds to receptors in cells and starts the infection process, is often the target of Covid-19 diagnostics, vaccines, and therapies.

The company says it began providing SARS-CoV-2 reference test materials in March 2020, and expanded the reference materials to include the delta variant, first identified in India, as well as the alpha, beta, and gamma variants first reported in England, South Africa, and Brazil respectively. Food and Drug Administration lists Twist Bioscience control materials on its web site for referencing full or near-full genome RNA.

Twist Bioscience also designs synthetic antibodies to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 viruses. As reported by Science & Enterprise in September 2020, the company released preclinical data from tests carried out and verified separately by labs at two different universities showing the synthetic antibodies neutralize infection mechanisms in the viruses.

“Rates of vaccinations in many countries have slowed,” says Emily Leproust, CEO and co-founder of Twist Bioscience in a company statement, “with Covid cases specific to the delta variant spiking. We remain steadfast in our commitment to deploy our synthetic DNA manufacturing and R&D capabilities to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, providing critical tools as the virus continues to evolve.”

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Synthetic Blood Vessel Maker Gains $2.2M in Seed Funds

Red blood cells illustration

(Arek Socha, Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/illustrations/blood-cells-red-medical-medicine-1813410/)

21 July 2021. A start-up company creating synthetic blood vessels for transplants, based on research in materials science and cell biology, is raising $2.2 million in seed funds. ClexBio, a biotechnology enterprise begun last year in Oslo, Norway, applies research from academic labs in Europe and the U.S. to tissue engineering for artificial blood vessels.

ClexBio aims to meet what it says are huge unmet needs for blood vessels to treat vascular diseases. The company’s technology is based on research by its founder Armend Håti, while a graduate student and postdoctoral researcher at NTNU – Norway University of Science and Technology, Harvard University, and EPFL in Switzerland. Manuel Schweikle, with a doctorate in materials science from University of Oslo and research at the SINTEF applied science institute in Trondheim, Norway, is also a company founder. Håti is ClexBio’s CEO, while Schweikle is the company’s chief scientist.

The ClexBio technology is derived from studies by Håti and colleagues of living cells interacting with hydrogels, or water-based polymer gels. The Clex technology, short for Competitive Ligand Exchange X-Linking, alters the chemical properties of a bio-friendly hydrogel to allow polymers in the gel to cross-link and form stronger bonds, resembling human tissue. These stronger hydrogels can then be engineered into three-dimensional forms for tissue engineering. At the same time, the hydrogel remains chemically neutral to living cells, making it safe to form into replacement tissue, such as for blood vessels. In addition, cells moving on or through the hydrogels can be monitored and assessed, down to individual cells.

Angel investments and research grants

In June, ClexBio and Sphere Fluidics, a developer of single cell analysis systems in Cambridge, Mass., announced a deal to apply Clex-based hydrogels to microfluidic or lab-on-a-chip devices for simulating and analyzing single cell properties. The new Cytrix hydrogel kit, says Sphere Fluidics, allows for safe and efficient encapsulation of mammalian cells, bacteria, and other microorganisms in an extracellular matrix that support cell viability.

ClexBio is raising $2.2 million in seed funds from multiple sources. More than half of the funds, $1.2 million, is from a group of private angel investors in Europe and Asia. The company says these investors include board members of Fortune 500 companies and senior executives from the biotechnology industry, among others. The remaining $1 million comes from grants made by several research funding agencies: Research Council of Norway, U.K. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Innovation Norway, and the Centre for Digital Life Norway.

ClexBio expects to apply the funds to advancing its technology further into tissue engineering, particularly synthetic but still fully humanized blood vessels. “With our exceptionally talented team and our breakthrough technology platform,” says co-founder Schweikle in a company statement released through BusinessWire, “we have a unique advantage in solving the grand challenge of engineering functional vascular tissue transplants that are 100 percent human.”

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ALS Drug Maker Gains $135M in New Funds

Man in wheelchair

(PXHere)

20 July 2021. A developer of treatments for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is raising $135 million in its third venture financing round. Amylyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts says it plans to apply those funds to a late-stage clinical trial and prepare for regulatory approval of its lead product.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder where neurons or nerve cells controlling muscles in the body begin to waste away, and can no longer send or receive signals from the brain or spinal cord. As the nerve cells stop functioning, muscles in the limbs, and later speech and breathing muscles, begin weakening and eventually stop functioning. Most people with the disease die of respiratory failure. According to Johns Hopkins University, ALS affects some 30,000 people in the U.S., with 5,000 new cases reported each year.

Amylyx Pharmaceuticals’ lead therapy candidate is AMX0035 that aims to slow the disease’s progression by targeting two sources of stress on nerve cells believed to contribute to cell death and inflammation associated with ALS. One stress source is the mitochondria or energy center of the cell, while the second source is the endoplasmic reticulum, a network of sacs and tubes that takes up much of the internal space of the cell, and transfers molecules between the nucleus and the rest of the cell. The company says both of these stress pathways need to be addressed to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS.

AMX0035, says Amylyx, is made of two approved compounds that together work on both of the stress sources: phenylbutyrate for mitochondrial stress and tauroursodeoxycholic acid for endoplasmic reticulum.  Both compounds were tested individually with ALS patients earlier, but AMX0035 is designed to combine and optimize their effects.

Slower decline and longer life extension

As reported in Science & Enterprise in September and October 2020, findings from a clinical trial show AMX0035 is shown to slow functional decline and extend survival in ALS patients compared to a placebo. The mid- and late-stage trial enrolled 137 patients diagnosed with ALS symptoms in the previous 18 months at 25 sites in the U.S. Participants were randomly assigned to receive AMX0035 or a placebo on a two-to-one basis for six months, administered once a day for three weeks, then twice a day for 21 weeks. The study team looked primarily for changes in participants’ scores on a standard 48-point rating scale of muscle activity and day-to-day functions among ALS patients.

In the September 2020 data published in New England Journal of Medicine, results show 89 participants receiving AMX0035 declined at slower pace, 1.24 points per month, than the 1.66 points per month for the 48 participants receiving the placebo, a difference large enough for statistical reliability. The October results, published in the journal Muscle & Nerve, report on patients taking part in an extension of the original six-month study. Those findings show participants originally receiving AMX0035 lived for a median of 25 months, compared to 18.5 months for participants receiving the placebo, a difference of 6.5 months.

The new venture round, the company’s third, is raising $135 million for Amylyx, led by Viking Global Investors in Greenwich, Connecticut. Taking part in the round are new investors Bain Capital Life Sciences, Perceptive Advisors, Rock Springs Capital, Woodline Partners, Marshall Wace, Tybourne Capital Management, Verition Fund Management, aMoon Fund, and Falcon Edge. Existing investors, including Morningside Ventures, 683 Capital Management, Belinda Termeer and Polaris Founders Capital, also participated.

According to Crunchbase, Amylyx Pharmaceuticals raised $67.2 in earlier venture funding. The company says it plans to use the new funds for a late-stage clinical trial of AMX0035 to prepare for final regulatory approval. Amylyx says it already filed for AMX0035’s approval in Canada and plans to apply for European Medicines Agency approval before the end of the year.

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Pooled Saliva Tests Detect Covid-19 in Schools

Preparing classrooms for students return

Preparing classrooms in Des Moines, Iowa for return of students. (Phil Roeder, Flickr, https://flic.kr/p/2jnw8xC)

19 July 2021. Combining commercial saliva tests to speed detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in schools is shown as accurate as individual gold-standard nasal swab tests. Results of a study conducted in U.S. schools and colleges using real-world evidence from the SalivaClear test made by Mirimus Inc. appear in Saturday’s issue of the journal EClinicalMedicine.

Mirimus in Brooklyn, New York, designs SalivaClear for fast, regular, high-volume testing of populations, such as schools or work places. The SalivaClear test collects small saliva samples in tubes from individuals, on their own and without clinicians, to check for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19 infections. Samples from up to 24 individuals are then combined for lab testing. Any combined samples with negative results indicate all individuals in that pool are negative for SARS-CoV-2.

If analysis of the pool returns a positive response, saliva samples in that pool are reanalyzed in pairs. If reanalysis of any paired samples show a positive result, both of the individuals are retested with new samples to find if one or both are infected. Initial pool samples are returned in 24 hours, with paired and individual results returned in 12 and 6 hours, respectively, according to Mirimus.

Analysis of saliva samples are done by labs using the SalivaDirect technique designed at Yale University’s public health school. That technique uses reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, analysis to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the samples, the same analytical method as nasopharyngeal swabs, the so-called gold standard for detecting SARS-CoV-2 done by clinicians. SalivaDetect received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration in August 2020, and Mirmus’s labs are approved to analyze samples with the technique.

Similar results as nasal swabs at lower cost

The study analyzed SalivaClear results from 93 K-12 schools, 19 universities, and the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA basketball team, from August 2020 to January 2021, and compared the findings to RT-PCR tests from nasopharyngeal swabs. Samples were taken from students, teachers, faculty, and staff members. Researchers from Mirimus, Yale University, and participating institutions analyzed 253,406 self-collected saliva specimens, combined into 11,473 pools. The authors say SalivaDirect results were provided in 18 to 30 hours.

The results show analysis of pooled saliva samples correspond 100 percent to individual test results, indicating the pooling technique does not miss individual infection cases. Researchers also found 100 percent agreement between saliva and nasal swab tests, collected concurrently and sent to separate labs for analysis. Moreover, the team identified patterns of more infections over time, corresponding to holidays: Halloween, Christmas, and New Years. In one school, the findings detected a Covid-19 hot spot in its main office, where school staff found faulty HVAC and ventilation as the culprits. And when compared to selected community rates, school infections are generally lower than their surrounding communities.

“The positivity rates we measured in our study show that gathering in groups, such as holiday celebrations, significantly increases the transmission of Covid-19,” says Prem Premsrirut, CEO of Mirimus and senior author of the paper in a company statement released through Cision, “and while in-school transmission of Covid-19 appears to be relatively low, students and faculty are just as susceptible to Covid-19 infection as any population group. If, as we fear, many people remain unvaccinated, schools must continue to be extremely vigilant with mitigation protocols, including regular testing, in order to minimize exposure.”

In addition, the authors compared costs of pooled saliva tests compared to nasopharyngeal swabs. They found pooled saliva tests and analysis cost on average $10 per person, with additional paired reanalysis and retesting if required costing another $12.50 per person. Average costs of nasopharyngeal swab collection and RT-PCR analysis, however, range from $100 to $199 each in most cases, and $127 on average. Depending on numbers of students, faculty, and staff, cost savings from pooled saliva tests can quickly add up for individual schools and school districts.

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Infographic – 2021 Black Start-Up Funding Rises

Investments in Black-founded companies

Click on image for full-size view (Crunchbase)

17 July 2021. Venture funding for Black-owned start-ups in the U.S. rose to record levels in the first half of 2021, but the percentage of total funding remains low. Crunchbase reported this week on venture funding for Black entrepreneurs in 2021, from data the technology investment database collects on venture transactions.

According to Crunchbase, total venture investments for Black-owned start-ups in the first six months of 2021 tripled to $1.8 billion from the $0.6 billion reported in the second half of 2020. This is the largest total amount invested, says Crunchbase, in Black-owned enterprises for any half year period. The number of venture or rounds, or deals, dipped somewhat in the first half of the year to 137, from 159 in the second half of 2020.

Nonetheless, funding for Black entrepreneurs so far in 2021 remains a small slice of total venture funding in the U.S., 1.2 percent, despite Black Americans representing 13 percent of the population. The number of venture deals for Black-owned start-ups represents 2.1 percent of all investment transactions in the first half of 2021, a relatively constant percentage for the past few years. Most (62%) of the deals involving Black entrepreneurs in the first half of 2021 were for seed-stage rounds.

Investors and entrepreneurs interviewed by Crunchbase News say the jump in investment funding this year for Black entrepreneurs can be traced to more Black investors in executive positions at venture capital companies, a greater willingness to invest in a wider range of promising start-up companies than before, and heightened awareness of racial divisions since the George Floyd murder last summer.

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Trial to Test Antibody Drug for Alzheimer’s Prevention

Neurons

(commonfund.nih.gov)

16 July 2021. Eli Lilly and Company is partnering with an Alzheimer’s disease research center to test a synthetic antibody for preventing the disorder in at-risk individuals. Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix and the Indianapolis drug maker are planning a clinical trial to evaluate Eli Lilly’s experimental drug donanemab for preventing cognitive decline in people considered at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition, the most common form of dementia affecting growing numbers of older people worldwide. People with Alzheimer’s disease often have deposits of abnormal substances in spaces between brain cells, known as amyloid-beta proteins, as well as misfolded tangles of proteins inside brain cells known as tau. Alzheimer’s Disease International says an estimated 50 million people worldwide are living with dementia, a number expected to grow to 152 million by 2050.

Donanemab is a synthetic antibody designed to clear existing amyloid-beta protein plaques, while according to AlzForum most other drugs targeting amyloid-beta aim to prevent further amyloid-beta plaque deposits. Eli Lilly designed donanemab to slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease among people in the early stages of the disease. In January, the company reported that a mid-stage clinical trial shows donanemab slows declines in cognition and day-to-day functioning more than a placebo in participants with early Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. A late-stage trial is enrolling 1,500 participants with early Alzheimer’s disease to assess donanemab against a placebo for slowing cognitive and functional decline.

Prevent progression before symptoms develop

Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and Eli Lilly plan a clinical trial to test donanemab for a somewhat different purpose: as a way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease among participants considered at high risk, but not yet showing symptoms of the disease. Mark Mintun, an Eli Lilly vice president, says in a company statement that the new trial, “will evaluate whether donanemab can prevent clinical progression in patients who have evidence of Alzheimer’s pathology, but don’t yet demonstrate clinical symptoms.”

Banner Institute provides care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease as well as conducting research. One of Banner Institute’s main projects is the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative that evaluates treatments designed to prevent the disorder among individuals with genetic markers associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative includes a patient registry with some 359,000 individuals who take part in clinical trials. The project also has a genetic testing service called GeneMatch, where participants send in a cheek swab for genetic testing, and based on the results are assigned to take part in clinical trials testing preventive treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

In the collaboration with Eli Lilly, Banner Institute will conduct a late-stage clinical trial using GeneMatch, where participants are tested for a specific mutation in the apolipoprotein E or APOE gene known as epsilon 4. The APOE4 variation is associated with a higher risk and earlier age onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Eli Lilly cites data showing a person with two copies of the APOE4 variation are at a risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease up to 12 times higher than other APOE variants, and more likely to have beta-amyloid accumulations. Enrollment in the trial is expected begin later this year.

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Immune Cell Cancer Biotech Gains $172M in New Funds

Natural killer cell

Natural killer cell (NIAID, Flickr)

15 July 2021. A biotechnology company developing cancer therapies with natural killer cells in the immune system is raising $172 million in its second venture round. Wugen Inc. in St. Louis, a three year-old enterprise spun off from labs at Washington University in St. Louis, modifies natural killer cells for longer lifetimes to treat blood-related and solid tumor cancers.

Like their cousins B- and T-cells, natural killer cells are white blood cells, which act against cells infected by viruses and in tumors. They’re called “natural killers” for their innate ability to seek out and attack pathogens and tumors without priming or prior activation. Wugen says it enhances natural killer cells by blocking receptors that limit cell activity, while adding more activating receptors and cancer-killing molecules. The company also freezes these memory NK cells, as they’re called, to make the cells more of an off-the-shelf product. Wugen is developing as well engineered donated T-cells in the immune system, designed to express chimeric antigen receptors or CARs that attack cancer cells, and do not invoke a damaging immune response.

In development for blood-related and solid tumor cancers

Wugen licenses its natural killer and T-cell technologies from the labs of the company’s scientific founders at Washington University in St. Louis: John DiPersio, Todd Fehniger, Matthew Cooper, and Melissa Berrien-Elliott. Cooper is also Wugen’s chief scientist, while DiPersio and Fehniger serve as scientific advisers. All of the founders collaborated on a study showing engineered natural killer cells can express multiple cancer-killing protein signals, which act against lab mice grafted with lymphoma cells. Fehringer and Berrien-Elliott also partnered on a study showing engineered natural killer cells act on lab mice induced with leukemia.

The company’s lead product, code-named WU-NK-101 is being tested in a mid-stage clinical trial in patients with relapsed or non-responsive cases of acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome. WU-NK-101 is also in preclinical testing as a treatment for solid-tumor melanoma and head-and-neck cancer. Dan Kemp, Wugen’s president and CEO, says in a company statement, “We have tremendous confidence that our off-the-shelf memory NK cell platform will give rise to a significant pipeline of highly effective and safe anti-cancer therapies.”

Wugen Inc. is raising $172 million in its second venture funding round led by life science investors Abingworth and Tybourne Capital Management. Joining the round are new investors Fidelity Management & Research Company, Intermediate Capital Group, Sands Capital, Aisling Capital Management, Alexandria Venture Investments, Velosity Capital and Falcon Edge Capital. Also taking part are existing investors RiverVest Venture Partners, LYZZ Capital, and Lightchain Capital. Industry newsletter Endpoints News says the company raised $36 million in its first venture round last year.

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