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Infographic – US Public Down on Vaccine Rollout

Chart: Vaccine rollout opinions

Click on image for full-size view (Statista)

16 Jan 2021. Half or more of American adults express negative opinions about the way Covid-19 vaccines are distributed, according to a recent survey. Findings from the survey conducted last week by by polling company Morning Consult and shown in this weekend’s infographic were displayed on Tuesday by business research company Statista.

The results show six in 10 survey respondents (60%) describe the Covid-19 vaccination campaign as frustrating, while about half call it disorganized (52%) or too slow (51%). Fewer respondents, between three and four in 10, use more positive terms to describe the process: effective (39%), strategic (36%), and moving at the right pace (31%). In addition, 40 percent of respondents say the U.S. process is worse than most countries, while 30 percent say it’s better.

Other findings from the poll, not shown on the chart, underscore the public’s mixed feelings about the vaccination rollout as the incoming Biden administration takes over the task. While half or more of respondents use the words optimistic (56%), relieved (54%), or happy (50%) to describe how they feel about getting a Covid-19 vaccine, almost as many say they’re skeptical (50%), anxious (47%), or afraid (41%).

Morning Consult conducted its national tracking poll online with 2,200 adults in the U.S. from 6 to 8 Jan. 2021.

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Registry Tracking Long-Term Covid-19 Impacts

Data pointing finger

(Vitaly Vlasov, Pexels)

15 Jan. 2021. A study now underway is tracking long-term effects of Covid-19 infections using real-world data from electronic sources provided by patients. The Innovative Support for Patients with SARS-CoV-2 Infections Registry, or Inspire trial is conducted by eight academic medical centers in the U.S., led by Rush University in Chicago.

The Inspire clinical trial is a patient registry that seeks to learn effects of Covid-19 on people in the 18 months following their diagnosis of infection. The study is enrolling 3,600 individuals with Covid-19 infections and displaying symptoms of the disease. For comparison, the trial is also recruiting another 1,200 participants reporting symptoms similar to those infected, but testing negative for Covid-19. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding the project.

Among participants, the study team is looking primarily for signs of myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, a long-term disease causing fatigue, malaise, sleep interruptions, difficulty concentrating, and dizziness. The researchers are also tracking several other indicators including need for hospitalization, outpatient care, survival time without visiting a hospital or intensive-care unit, and death.

“This disease will be with us for years to come,” says Rush University chief analytics officer Bala Hota, also the study’s principle investigator, in a university statement, “and understanding the impact on the health of survivors will be essential to our understanding of how to treat it. This work will provide the foundation for our long-term understanding of the ongoing impact of Covid-19.”

In addition to Rush University Medical Center, participants are currently being enrolled at University of Washington in Seattle and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Enrollment is expected to begin later at University of Texas Health in Houston, University of California in Los Angeles and San Francisco, University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Data gleaned from existing health records

Data for the trial are collected through a system called Hugo that compiles real-world data with permission of participants. Real-world data are collected routinely for other business or health purposes, such as from electronic health records, insurance claims, fitness trackers, smart watches, or other mobile apps. They also include data provided from surveys completed by participants.

Participants are expected to complete surveys every three months over the 18-month period, with each survey taking no more than 30 minutes. All data are collected remotely, with no travel required to the medical centers. Participants are also compensated up to $100 for taking part.

Having this wealth of data in electronic form is expected to provide rapid analytics for researchers, to better understand patient outcomes almost as they occur. The researchers say they also plan to engage participants more as partners in the study, rather than statistical data points, to find ways of maximizing value of participants’ information while maintiaing their privacy.

In May 2020, as reported by Science & Enterprise, the Food and Drug Administration began collecting and evaluating real-world evidence from electronic health records and other sources to better understand the Covid-19 patient population, symptoms they express, medications taken, and risk factors for complications. The analytics are expected to help FDA better evaluate proposed diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments.

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Universities Form Joint Engineering Patent Pool

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (A. Kotok)

15 Jan. 2021. A group of 15 American universities are putting part of their engineering patents into a common licensing pool for commercial development. The University Technology Licensing Program aims to provide an easier way for companies to license technologies in the physical sciences created at these university labs, beginning with patents on connectivity, autonomous vehicles, and data applications.

Participants in the University Technology Licensing Program, or UTLP, are Brown University, California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Cornell University, Harvard University, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, Northwestern University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, State University of New York at Binghamton, University of California in Berkeley, University of California in Los Angeles, University of Southern California, and Yale University.

The program seeks to provide licensing prospects in industry an easier way to find and acquire the rights to technologies developed in university physical science and engineering labs. “UTLP is a creative solution to meet a long-felt need for universities and private sector actors,” says David Kappos, former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in a UTLP statement. “It will make the licensing of technologies much easier and more convenient, to the benefit of all participants.”

The first technologies contributed by UTLP participants are in three areas:

– Connectivity, including power management, networking protocols, signal processing, data stream coders and decoders, location tracking, cameras, and image processing

– Data applications, covering storage, data management, and network protocols

– Autonomous vehicles

Participating institutions reviewed their portfolios and contributed their patents in these fields. The program may expand to include patents on other engineering and physical science technologies such as semiconductor fabrication, applied electronics, batteries, photovoltaics, and robotics.

UTLP is expected to offer companies a range of licensing alternatives, such as acquiring rights to an entire technology portfolio, more limited collections of related technologies, or individual patents. Licensing fees, says UTLP, are determined by market value and feedback, but start-up companies will be eligible for substantial discounts.

Favorable antitrust review

UTLP says the program received a favorable antitrust evaluation from the U.S. Department of Justice. In a 13 January letter to the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, counsel to UTLP, acting principal deputy attorney-general Michael Murray notes …

Taking into account this significant benefit to UTLP’s potential licensors, sublicensees, and the public, and considering the technologies at issue, UTLP’s current scale and scope, the efficiencies associated with the program, and potential harms, the Department concludes that UTLP is unlikely to harm competition.

Murray adds in a separate Department of Justice statement that in the physical sciences, “some university research may never be commercialized due to the costs associated with negotiating multiple licenses and combining the complementary university patents that may be necessary for cutting-edge implementations.  To the extent that UTLP makes it easier for universities to commercialize inventions that may be currently unlicensed and under-utilized, industry participants, university researchers, and ultimately the public can benefit.”

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Micro-Robot Designed to Aid Internal Laser Surgery

Microrobotic laser device

Microrobotic laser device, right, fits on standard endoscope system at left. (Wyss Institute, Harvard University)

14 Jan. 2021. An engineering team demonstrated a small robotic device that fits on current surgical equipment to improve laser surgery inside the body. Researchers from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University describe the device in yesterday’s issue of the journal Science Robotics.

A team from the lab of Harvard robotics professor Robert Wood is seeking to improve current devices used in minimally invasive surgery, providing more precision, dexterity, and range of motion. Wood’s microrobotics laboratory studies mechanics, electronics, actuation, and controls of small-scale devices, often with the Wyss Institute, where Wood is affiliated. In this case, the authors, led by postdoctoral researcher Peter York, apply techniques developed for micro-scale manufacturing for controlling laser surgery tools deployed inside the body.

The challenge for the researchers is to find a solution that combines mechanical control of a laser surgical device with more real-time visual feedback than current devices that often provide only line-of-sight images. The system also needs to offer more flexibility, responsiveness, and range of motion. In addition, the device needs to be small enough to fit on and work with current surgical equipment, thus avoiding a large new investment.

The team’s device is an optical electro-mechanical system with an integrated optical fiber to deliver a surgical laser. The system’s visual feedback is provided with three tiny mirrors that capture and send back real time images. And the device is controlled with piezoelectric actuators powered from energy generated from mechanical stresses. To make the device small enough to fit on current surgical equipment, such as endoscopes, the researchers used techniques by the lab from fabricating microelectromechanical systems originally developed for producing electronic circuits.

6 x 16 millimeter cylinder

The team’s device is built into a cylinder that measures 6 millimeters in diameter and 16 millimeters long. The researchers demonstrated the device integrated with an off-the-shelf endoscope system for laser surgery in a simulated colonoscopy. The team demonstrated removal of a polyp in the simulated surgery with both standard manual control of the device, as well as in high-speed robotic surgery following a programmed incision trajectory.

“To enable minimally invasive laser surgery inside the body,” says York in a Wyss Institute statement, “we devised a microrobotic approach that allows us to precisely direct a laser beam at small target sites in complex patterns within an anatomical area of interest. With its large range of articulation, minimal footprint, and fast and precise action, this laser-steering end-effector has great potential to enhance surgical capabilities simply by being added to existing endoscopic devices in a plug-and-play fashion.”

Harvard University applied for a patent on the technology, with York and Wood listed as inventors. The researchers say they’re refining the system to advance it further as a working surgical device.

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Five Methods That Lead To Productive Employees

– Contributed content –

Laptops on a table

(Rawpixel.com, Pexels)

13 Jan. 2021. For a business, there is nothing more important than the employees. If the employees are happy, then productivity is likely to increase, and that’s just what you need.

Just by making small changes, you are able to drastically improve the productivity levels in your business. Let’s have a look at some of them below:

Make sure you are efficient

You should have a look at how your business is running at the moment, but be open to the possibility of changing the way you work. You should remember that it is important to look at both long-term and short-term lists, especially if you are a small business. Think about things like the daily routines, and daily goals, don’t be afraid to ask questions to your employees about how they feel their day could be more productive.

Communication is important

You can’t underestimate the importance of communication in the workplace. Regardless of the size of your office or production line, it’s is essential for you to have the best procedures and tools in place to ensure communication can be constant. If you work in large premises, 2-way radios such as those you find at altechradio.com can be a great way to enable communication to be strong in your business.

Minimise distractions

Mobile phones and social media can be huge distractions in any workplace, however, it is not practical to have a completely no-phone policy. Instead of putting in strict rules, why not keep them engaged and focused while giving them a little bit of breathing room. Encourage them to keep their mobiles off, but allow them to take breaks where they are able to check their phones. The time spent at work will be more productive. You should make sure you give a landline number that your employees can be contacted on in emergencies.

Offer support and set realistic goals

A common problem that you see is there is no strong, clear sense of whether their employees are high-performing. Think about things such as incentives you have in place to help keep them on track. Do you have these in place? You could also help them by making sure that goals are in place but are achievable too. You should always make sure there is a clear direction in place for your employees in order to clarify any expectations. This will help to improve productivity, as they will have clear goals and focus.

Ensure your employees are happy

Having a stressful workplace certainly won’t yield any results. If you have workers that constantly operate in a high-stress environment they are likely to be less productive and become more disengaged. They need to be happy. If you can show your employees that you appreciate and respect them it will raise their productivity.

If you want your staff to become more productive and have a productive business try out some of these tips and you should start to enjoy the benefits.

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Biotech Licenses mRNA Technology for Aging

Hands of older person

(Steve Buissinne, Pixabay)

13 Jan. 2021. A biotechnology enterprise is licensing research from Stanford University on messenger RNA to produce proteins that rejuvenate cells damaged by aging. Turn Biotechnologies in Mountain View, California is acquiring the rights to discoveries by the company’s founders that the company says can be developed into treatments for a number of aging-related conditions.

Turn Bio is a three year-old company founded by Stanford University researchers on cell biology and aging, discovering treatments for disorders that result from effects of aging on cells. The company’s technology aims to reprogram the epigenome, chemicals originating from outside the human genome, but added and still affect expression of genes.

The main vehicle for Turn Bio’s epigentic reprogramming is messenger RNA, a nucleic acid based on the genetic code from DNA, and used by cells to produce amino acids in proteins for cellular functions. Messenger RNA became well known recently for its key role in vaccines to prevent against Covid-19 infections. In this case, messenger RNA is created to generate proteins called Yamanaka factors that regulate signaling in embryonic stem cells.

These same proteins, says Turn Bio, can restore functionality to different cells and tissue in the body affected by aging. In a paper published in March 2020 in the journal Nature Communications, similar proteins generated by messenger RNA are shown in lab cultures to reset the epigenetic clock, restore a regenerative response to aging muscle stem cells, and reduce inflammation in cartilage cells. At the same time, say the authors, cells retain their original identities.

The study was led by Vittorio Sebastiano, a research professor in Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. Sebastiano is one of Turn Bio’s founders, along with first author Jay Sarkar and co-author Marco Quarta. Sarkar is Turn Bio’s chief technology officer, while Sebastiano and Quarta serve as scientific advisers to the company.

Turn Bio is licensing the processes described in the paper from Stanford for the company’s technology called epigenetic reprogramming of age, or ERA. “The ability to precisely control a cell’s rejuvenation,” says Sarkar in a company statement released through Cision, “means we will be able to turn back the clock on cellular vitality, effectively restoring cells’ ability to heal or regenerate damaged tissue. Our research offers promise to people suffering from age-related diseases for which there are currently no cures.”

Turn Bio has several products in preclinical development that apply ERA technology to various cells and tissue affected by aging. TRN-001 is designed to treat damaged skin and hair tissue as a single integrated target as a therapy for skin frailty, sun damage, hair loss, hair color loss, and aesthetic issues such as wrinkles and skin texture. A separate product, code-named TRN-003, aims to restore protective cartilage in joints and reverse joint damage.

Turn Bio’s TRN-004 is designed to rejuvenate tissue in the cornea and limbus in the eye, to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress experienced in glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and dry eye syndrome. The company’s TRN-005 aims to reduce fraility and loss of age-related muscle mass that leads to injuries.

“ERA technology is an extremely powerful platform and can be used to treat a variety of diseases throughout the body,” says Anja Krammer, Turn Bio’s CEO. “The steps we have taken ensure that the fruits of our research can benefit millions of people around the world.”

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US Govt to Buy 1.25M Regeneron Covid-19 Therapies

SARS-Cov-2 virus

Scanning electron microscope image of SARS-Cov-2 virus, responsible for Covid-19 infections (NIH.gov)

13 Jan. 2021. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is buying up to 1.25 million more doses of Regeneron’s Covid-19 antibody therapy, for $2.63 billion. The antibody therapy, a combination or cocktail of two synthetic monoclonal antibodies is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to treat people with Covid-19 infections, but not hospitalized.

Regeneron, in Tarrytown, New York, develops synthetic antibodies that stimulate the immune system to prevent or treat infectious diseases. The company’s VelocImmune technology produces these human antibodies with genetically engineered mice. The engineered mice become living production lines, says the company, producing antibodies that respond as a human to a specific pathogen, while not affecting the rest of the animal. The antibodies are then retrieved and combined with human genetic properties for testing as therapies.

The company’s Covid-19 antibody therapy is a combination of two synthetic antibodies, casirivimab and imdevimab, given as a single infusion for neutralizing the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19 infections. The antibodies attach to separate receptor binding domains of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that enters and begins infecting cells. In November 2020, FDA granted an emergency use authorization for the antibody cocktail to treat individuals with Covid-19 infections and mild to moderate symptoms, age 12 and older, but not hospitalized.

Regeneron’s chief scientist George Yancopoulos notes in a company statement that the multi-antibody design of the therapy makes it more likely to remain effective even if the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates. Yancopoulos says that “as expected, the virus continues to mutate, with the possibility of developing resistance to any one antibody. The Regeneron cocktail of two antibodies, each targeting a different site on the virus, reduces the possibility of the virus becoming resistant.”

As reported by Science & Enterprise in October, clinical trial results show Regeneron’s antibody treatment more effective for recipients with high viral loads and without natural antibodies at the beginning of the trial. The findings also show no statistically reliable difference between higher and lower doses of the antibody cocktail.

FDA authorized the higher dose of 2,400 milligrams or 1,200 milligrams of each antibody. Under the new agreement, HHS is buying 750,000 doses of casirivimab and imdevimab at the 2,400 milligram level, for $2.625 billion. Regeneron says it’s still evaluating efficacy of the lower 1,200 milligram dose. If the data show the lower dose can effectively treat Covid-19 infections, and FDA extends its authorization to the lower dose, the company will be able to supply 1.25 million doses of the antibody cocktail.

That quantity represents all doses scheduled for manufacture and delivery by 30 June 2021. Adding to the 300,000 doses already purchased would increase the total amount purchased by HHS to 1.5 million doses. The company says U.S. government agencies are allocating doses of the therapy to state and territorial health departments.

Regeneron says clinical trials of casirivimab and imdevimab continue among hospitalized patients in the U.K., as well as a test of the cocktail to prevent Covid-19 infections among household contacts of already infected individuals.

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Drug Maker Gains Access to Hidden Protein Immunotherapies

T-cells and cancer cells

Killer T-cells surround a cancer cell (NICHD, Flickr)

12 Jan. 2021. Global drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim is gaining access to an immunotherapy technology that targets usually hidden proteins to attack cancer cells. The deal could bring Enara Bio in Oxford, U.K. as much as €876 million ($US 1.1 billion) in milestone payments as well as undisclosed initial licensing and preclinical research funds, if fully implemented.

Enara Bio discovers cancer therapies that invoke the immune system, but unlike other immunotherapies, addresses what the company calls dark antigens, derived from parts of the human genome usually not expressed as proteins. The company’s technology targets T-cell receptors with a small group of proteins generated independently of the human leukocyte antigen complex of proteins regulating the immune system. In January 2020, the company, then known as Ervaxx, licensed research on these hidden proteins from Cardiff University in Wales, U.K. identifying T-cell clones that attack multiple types of human cancer cells, while remaining harmless to non-cancerous tissue.

In June 2020, the company under its new name Enara Bio began focusing its research and development on discovering cancer therapies based on dark antigens addressing these T-cell receptors. Enara says its dark antigens can be combined to create off-the shelf cancer immunotherapy vaccines, or used with a patient’s own T-cells to generate personalized lab-produced immunotherapies.

Option to license Enara Bio technology

The agreement offers Boehringer Ingelheim an option to license rights to the Enara Bio technology for discovery and validation of dark antigens to treat up to three types of lung or gastrointestinal tumors. An option gives a licensing prospect an opportunity to review and decide whether to license a technology, usually for a fixed period of time. However, the companies believe the dark antigens discovered may be developed further into treatments for a broader range of cancer patients.

“We are advancing a unique pipeline of cancer cell-directed agents, immuno-oncology therapies and intelligent combination approaches to help combat cancer,” says Jonathon Sedgwick, who heads Boehringer Ingelheim’s research on cancer immunology, in a statement. “Enara Bio’s unique discovery platform offers a novel and highly differentiated approach that will allow us to look beyond the known proteome to identify and characterize dark antigens to support the development of T-cell receptor-directed immunotherapies and therapeutic vaccines.”

Under the agreement, Boehringer Ingelheim is responsible for clinical development and commercialization of cancer immunotherapies, therapeutic vaccines, and biologics targeting T-cells. Enara Bio is receiving from Boehringer Ingelheim an undisclosed initial payment, as well as licensing-option fees and support for further preclinical research. In addition, Enara Bio is eligible for €876 million in clinical, regulatory, and commercialization milestone payments if the full licensing and collaboration deal goes through.

Kevin Pojasek, president and CEO of Enara Bio says, “We are excited to build this relationship and are encouraged that Boehringer Ingelheim shares our view of the potential of dark antigens to be a source of important and unconventional targets for novel cancer immunotherapies.” Enara Bio retains rights to dark antigens discovered under the deal for development as unrelated cell therapy products.

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Moderna Developing Flu, HIV, Nipah Vaccines

Syringe and three vials

(Arek Socha, Pixabay)

11 Jan. 2021. Moderna Inc., developer of a currently authorized Covid-19 vaccine, is expanding its vaccine pipeline to cover three more common infectious viral diseases. The Cambridge, Massachusetts company says it’s adapting its messenger RNA technology for vaccines to protect against or treat seasonal flu, HIV, and Nipah virus infections.

Moderna develops vaccines and therapies against infectious diseases with a technology that synthesizes messenger RNA, a nucleic acid based on the genetic code from DNA, and used by cells to produce amino acids in proteins for cellular functions. Moderna manipulates the coding region in messenger RNA chemistry to provide instructions for cells to produce proteins with specific medicinal properties. For protective vaccines, Moderna delivers messenger RNA, or mRNA, with instructions for cells to produce proteins with enough resemblance to viruses to generate an immune response, but are still safe for the recipient.

“Even as we have shown that our mRNA-based vaccine can prevent Covid-19,” says Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO in a company statement, “this has encouraged us to pursue more-ambitious development programs within our prophylactic vaccines modality. Today we are announcing three new vaccine programs addressing seasonal flu, HIV and the Nipah virus, some of which have eluded traditional vaccine efforts, and all of which we believe can be addressed with our mRNA technology.”

Three seasonal flu and two HIV vaccine candidates

For seasonal flu, Moderna is preparing three candidates to protect against combinations of influenza A and B strains, as recommended each year by World Health Organization. The company cites data showing about 8 percent of the U.S. population experiences flu symptoms each year, leading to as many as 810,000 hospitalizations and 61,000 deaths. Moderna expects to begin a clinical trial for the seasonal flu vaccine later this year. The company is also exploring a combination vaccine for influenza, SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19, respiratory syncytial virus, and human metapneumovirus that can lead to to bronchitis or pneumonia.

Moderna’s two HIV candidates are designed to invoke neutralizing antibodies from the immune system, using two different approaches. HIV, according to the company affects some 38 million people worldwide and 1.2 million in the U.S., leading to 690,000 global deaths from acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS. One of the HIV vaccine candidates code-named mRNA-1644 is being developed with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The second HIV candidate, mRNA-1574, is being prepared with National Institutes of Health. Moderna expects clinical trials for each HIV vaccine candidate to begin later this year.

Nipah virus is a zoonotic microbe, one that is transmitted between animals and humans. Fruit bats are natural hosts of the nipah virus, but the virus is also spread by pigs and contaminated food. Farmers, particularly in Asia, are susceptible to Nipah virus infections with a case fatality rate of 40 to 75 percent, and World Health Organization includes the disease in its 2018 research and development blueprint. Moderna’s Nipah virus candidate, code-named mRNA-1215 is also co-developed with NIH.

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Drug Price Disruptor Biotech Raises $500M in New Funds

Pills and dollar bill

(Thomas Breher, Pixabay)

11 Jan. 2021. A start-up biotechnology company that aims to bring drugs to market at lower cost is raising $500 million in its second venture funding round. The one year-old EQRx Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts says its business model streamlines current drug development, marketing, and distribution processes, making possible cost savings of at least 50 percent to the health care system.

EQRx aims to re-engineer the processes of bringing drugs to market, as well as getting treatments to patients, which reduce the time needed to produce drugs, but also their prices. In a company blog post in July 2020, EQRx’s chairman Alexis Borisy and president Melani Nallicheri, also the company’s co-founders, say the high cost of pharmaceuticals is now a growing unmet need in the marketplace. Borisy and Nallicheri cite data showing when out-of-pocket costs for drugs reach or exceed $250, some 70 percent of patients discontinue their treatment.

The authors say EQRx uses a fast-follow model, where their product candidates work similarly to existing drugs, but with sufficiently different chemistries to allow for their own intellectual property. In addition, the company aims to shorten the supply chain, selling their drugs directly to larger health care providers. “EQRx is the ultimate convener,” says Nallicheri in a company statement, “bringing health care stakeholders together in meaningful strategic partnerships to modernize traditional drug manufacturer-to-patient access models globally.”

Cancer drugs in the pipeline

EQRx acquires current late-stage drug candidates for further development and commercialization, and now has four cancer therapies in its pipeline. In July 2020, the company licensed lerociclib that inhibits the enzymes cyclin dependent kinase or CDK4 and CDK6, implicated in a number of cancer types, and in clinical trials as a treatment for breast cancer. Also in July, EQRx acquired the rights to almonertinib, a drug that limits epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR, mutations associated with non-small cell lung cancer. Almonertinib is likewise being tested in a clinical trial.

In October 2020, EQRx gained the rights to two cancer drugs from Chinese pharma company CStone Pharmaceuticals. Both sugemalimab and another candidate code-named CS1003 are immune checkpoint inhibitors that stop PD-L1 proteins from blocking immune-system attacks on cancer cells. EQRx is developing sugemalimab as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, other solid-tumor cancers, and lymphoma, while CS1003 is a candidate for treating liver cancer.

EQRX is raising $500 million in its second venture financing round, with participation from all of its first-round funders. As reported by Science & Enterprise last January, those funders raised $200 million, led by technology and life science investor companies Andreesen Horowitz, GV (formerly Google Ventures), and ARCH Venture Partners. Joining the round were Casdin Capital, Section 32, Nextech, and Arboretum Ventures, with other undisclosed investors. The company says it raised $750 million total since its launch.

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