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Cell-Based Fish Company Gains $8.25M in Seed Funds

Bluu Bioscience founders

Sebastian Rakers, left, and Simon Fabich, co-founders of Bluu Biosciences (Bluu Biosciences)

26 Mar. 2021. The start-up enterprise Bluu Biosciences is underway creating seafood products from fish stem cells, and raising $US 8.25 million in seed funds. The one year-old biotechnology company in Berlin, which says it’s the first enterprise of its kind in Europe, is based on research by its scientific founder at the one of Germany’s Fraunhofer research institutes.

Bluu Biosciences aims to help solve an escalating need for sustainable sources for fish and seafood, a growing source of protein for the world’s population. The latest annual report on fisheries and aquaculture from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization shows in 2018 the world produced 179 million metric tons of fish and seafood, with 156 million metric tons ending up on customer plates.

FAO says much of the increase in production since 1990, however, is the result of aquaculture, also called aqua farming, with overfishing in oceans occurring more frequently and in more places. As a result, says the agency, the percentage of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels has fallen from 90 percent in 1990 to 66 percent in 2018.

The Bluu Biosciences solution is to grow fish and seafood tissue in bioreactors. The company’s process begins with stem cells extracted from live fish tissue biopsies. The stem cells are cultured from their natural state into cell lines in a lab, with those cell lines then transferred to bioreactors, where a nutrient-rich bath helps expand the number of cells. In the bioreactors, cells are arrayed on scaffolds, where they form into biomass of fish or seafood tissue. The company says it enhances the basic tissue to produce recognizable consumer food products.

More sustainable process than fishing or aquaculture

The company points out that cell-based fish differs in key ways from cultured meat. Fish and seafood tissue is simpler in structure than meat, more tolerant to varying oxygen levels than mammalian tissue, and can be cultivated at room temperature, which lowers energy costs, compared to higher temperatures needed by cultured meat.

Bluu Biosciences says its process is more environmentally friendly than commercial fisheries or aquaculture. The company says no animals are caught or suffer in its process, less carbon dioxide is expended, less waste is generated, and no by-products and fewer pollutants are produced. In addition, supply chains are shorter, which means lower transport costs and fewer greenhouse gases to reach the customer.

The company’s process is based on research by co-founder Sebastian Rakers at the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Marine Biotechnology and Cell Engineering in Lübeck, Germany. “Bluu Biosciences,” says Rakers in an email to Science & Enterprise, “has set out to produce tasty and nutrient-optimized fish products from fish cells that are free of genetic engineering, antibiotics, and environmental toxins. Above all, that means intensive research and development work to develop the optimal fish cell lines for subsequent production.”

Bluu Biosciences is raising €7 million ($8.25 million) in its seed funding round, from investors Manta Ray Ventures and CPT Capital in the U.K., Lever VC in the U.S., Norrsken in Sweden, and Be8 in Germany. EVIG Group in Berlin, which supports sustainable food entrepreneurs, helped get the company off the ground. “The round was closed in a matter of weeks,” adds co-founder Simon Fabich, “which indicates how compelling the science team and the science foundation of Bluu is.”

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Intensive Care Bed Designed for Preterm Babies

Baby resting on a Calmer (Liisa Holsti, Univ of British Columbia)

26 Mar. 2021. Clinical trial results show a hospital bed that simulates contact with a mothers’ body helps preterm babies cope with unpleasant medical procedures. Findings from the trial, conducted by researchers from University of British Columbia in Vancouver, were published earlier this year in the journal Pain Reports, but the device more recently received initial funding from the university for further development.

The robotic device called the Calmer is designed to reduce stress in preterm infants who need close monitoring by clinicians in a neonatal intensive care unit, including regular tests like blood draws that can be painful, but in circumstances where the mother is not present to help. The Calmer is soft platform shaped like a pillow with programmable circuits and motors that replaces the mattress in a preterm baby’s incubator. The top surface is made of silicone and a biocompatible Goretex material to feel like human skin. The Calmer’s electronics can be programmed to simulate the mother’s breathing pattern and heartbeat, gently adjusting the top surface up to 10 millimeters.

A team from UBC’s occupational science and computer science faculties designed Calmer, with the first units built by colleagues at a product development lab at British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby. Liisa Holsti, professor of occupational science and therapy led development of Calmer with computer science professor Karon MacLean, whose research group studies touch-based human interactions in robotics.

The clinical trial tested the Calmer in the neonatal intensive care unit at BC Children’s and Women’s Health Centre in Vancouver. The trial enrolled 54 infants born preterm at 27 weeks or later, with the infants randomly assigned to beds with or without a Calmer, where clinicians caring for babies without a Calmer used a technique called facilitated tucking, the standard care where the baby is held in flexed or tucked position.

The study team looked primarily for changes in behavioral indicators of infant pain during blood draws, but also tracked heart rate and blood oxygen levels in the brain, using near-infrared spectroscopy, a non-invasive technique where near-infrared wave reflections indicate changes in oxygen levels. A subset of the sample, 29 infants, were tested specifically for blood oxygen levels in the brain.

“For newborns and particularly for preterm babies,” says Manon Ranger, professor of nursing at UBC in a university statement, “it’s critical to keep overall blood oxygen levels steady, especially in the brain. The more stable their brain oxygenation is, the better for their brain development.” Ranger studies brain development in preterm babies and is first author of the Pain Reports paper.

The results indicate preterm babies in beds with a Calmer display blood oxygen levels similar to babies with human touch and facilitated tucking during blood draws. The authors conclude that a parent’s touch is still the best method for these circumstances, but the Calmer can substitute if necessary. Ranger notes, “This is especially relevant in the current Covid-19 pandemic context, where many hospital settings must restrict contact with visitors.”

“We are expanding our evaluation of this device in more rigorous real-world conditions,” adds Holsti, “and we’re in the process of redesigning it to be used in low- and middle-income countries, so that infants worldwide who need it can have the benefit of Calmer treatment.”

In February, the Calmer developers were one of six medical and engineering teams at UBC to receive Health Innovation Funding Investment or HiFi awards from UBC Health. The HiFi awards are given to encourage further development of the technologies into clinical practice.

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Microbiome Therapy Shown to Cut Covid-19 Health Needs

Gut microbes

Gut microbes cultured in an artistic design (Nicola Fawcett, Wikimedia Commons)

25 Mar. 2021. A clinical trial shows a treatment targeting gut microbes reduces health care use and recovery times in people with mild to moderate Covid-19 disease. Findings from the trial were released by Kaleido Biosciences Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts, developer of an experimental therapy code-named KB109, but are not yet peer-reviewed.

Kaleido Biosciences creates therapies for infectious, metabolic, and immune-related diseases, as well as cancer designed to act on the microbiome, microbial communities found naturally in the body, particularly in the gut. The microbiome is an emerging area of research and opportunity for therapies, including for diseases not usually associated with bacteria or the gut, including disorders linked to the immune system and neurological diseases.

Kaleido Bio develops its therapies with synthetic glycans, simple to complex carbohydrate compounds with many known interactions with microorganisms in the gut. The company says it maintains a library of more than 1,500 synthetic glycans designed to influence metabolic functions of gut microbes. From this library, Kaleido Bio develops treatment candidates it calls microbiome metabolic therapies, or MMTs designed to act on classes of gut microbes with enzymes to produce metabolites with therapeutic effects.

The company says its MMTs can be taken as oral drugs, and meet requirements set by the Food and Drug Administration for “generally accepted as safe” substances applied to food additives. As a result, says Kaleido Bio, MMTs can often bypass separate early-stage safety trials and be tested initially in mid-stage clinical studies.

KB109, says Kaleido Bio, consists of metabolites called short chain fatty acids that are known to influence immune responses. The company cites previous studies showing short chain fatty acids are linked to production of antibodies and T-cells in the immune system, and help reduce symptoms and improve survival in patients with severe respiratory infections, like those caused from the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19.

No adverse effects from therapy reported

The clinical trial enrolled 350 adult participants from 16 sites in the U.S., within two days of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 and exhibiting mild to moderate symptoms such as cough or fever. Participants were randomly assigned to receive KB109 along with their self-supported care, or only self-supported care. The study team looked primarily for adverse effects from KB109, but also the need for further health care interventions, such as visits to urgent care facilities or hospitals, and changes in symptoms for 35 days following treatment.

Results released by Kaleido Bio show KB109 is safe and tolerable, with no adverse effects related to the therapy, although the company otherwise gave no specifics. Participants receiving KB109 report 51 percent fewer visits to health care facilities, such as urgent care centers or hospitals, than participants using self-supported care alone. Among participants with one or more underlying health conditions, the rate is 62 percent lower for KB109 recipients. In addition, participants with one or more underlying health conditions resolve their Covid-19 symptoms in a median of 21 days, compared to 30 days for participants using self-support care alone.

“Despite historic progress in advancing Covid-19 vaccinations, new strains of the virus continue to emerge, necessitating safe, orally available therapies for patients around the world,” says Kaleido Bio president Dan Menichella in a company statement. Menichella adds, “Because KB109 is designed to affect the host’s immune response, rather than the virus itself, we believe it may produce a similar response to virus variants or other types of viral respiratory infections.”

The company is enrolling participants in two more clinical trials, to better understand the physiological effects of KB109 in patients with Covid-19 infections, and as a treatment for long-haulers, patients with long-term effects from Covid-19.

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Clinical Trial Tests In-Tumor Breast Cancer Therapy

Breast cancer self exam

(NIEHS, nih.gov)

24 Mar. 2021. A clinical trial is set to begin that tests a treatment for early-stage breast cancer delivered directly into the tumor before surgery is scheduled. The study, now authorized by Health Canada, will be conducted in Ottawa, Ontario, testing the therapy code-named INT230-6, made by Intensity Therapeutics Inc. in Westport, Connecticut.

Intensity Therapeutics is a developer of solid tumor cancer therapies that act directly on tumors and also generate an immune response against tumors that may spread elsewhere in the body. The company’s technology uses a sodium salt compound with the abbreviation SHAO that both attracts and repels water, combined with chemotherapy drugs. This combination, says the company, disperses throughout tumors, then penetrates, concentrates in, and attacks cancer cells. The mutated and weakened cancer cells from the tumor also act as antigens to stimulate a systemic immune response that neutralizes escaping tumor cells.

Intensity’s first product is INT230-6, designed to treat solid tumor cancers. INT230-6 contains the chemotherapy drugs cisplatin and vinblastine combined with SHAO for delivery to cancer cells. In preclinical studies with lab mice induced with colon cancer, conducted by the company and with National Cancer Institute, INT230-6 is shown to disperse through tumors and inflitrate cancer cells, as well as generate an immune response. Compared to the chemotherapy drugs alone, animals receiving INT230-6 reduced tumor growth and improved survival time. The study with NCI found similar results when testing INT230-6 in mice induced with breast cancer.

Looking for reductions in malignancy

The clinical trial plans to enroll 60 women at Ottawa Hospital Cancer Center with early-stage breast cancer, and tumors either still confined to the breast or spread no further than nearby lymph nodes. Participants are randomly assigned to receive three doses of INT230-6 injected directly into the tumors seven days apart, or receive standard care in preparation for surgery. Tissue samples from the affected breast will then be analyzed in the three to six-week period between diagnosis and surgery.

The study team led by Ottawa Hospital research oncologist Angel Arnaout is looking primarily for reductions in the antigen Ki67, a protein indicator of cancer malignancy in the tissue samples. Researchers are also tracking adverse effects of the treatments prior to surgery, residual cancer burdens, tumor proliferation, and indicators of immune system cells such as T-cells, macrophages, or natural killer cells.

“There currently is no drug treatment available in the early presurgical setting with the ability to kill a tumor rapidly in the typical 4-week period from diagnosis to surgery,” says Arnaout in an Intensity Therapeutics statement. “Using INT230-6 to rapidly reduce a patient’s cancer cell burden and shut down proliferation in the timeframe from diagnosis to surgery is exciting and could offer increased clinical benefit.”

“Killing cancer immediately after its diagnosis,” adds Intensity Therapeutics chief medical officer Ian Walters, “may give patients more peace of mind that all effort is being made to stop the cancer from growing or spreading prior to resection, as well as improve the cosmetic and functional outcome of the surgery.”

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Test Vaccine Protects Against Wide Coronavirus Range

Two piglets

(Skeeze, Pixabay)

24 Mar. 2021. Researchers at two Virginia universities developed an experimental vaccine that in tests with pigs protects against SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses. A team from University of Virginia in Charlottesville and Virginia Tech in Blacksburg describe the vaccine and tests in a non-peer reviewed paper posted last week on the bioRxiv server.

The researchers led by UVa medical school professor of pediatrics Steven Zeichner and VaTech veterinary medicine professor Xiang-Jin Meng are seeking a vaccine that can protect against disease from currently known SARS-CoV-2 strains responsible for Covid-19 infections, but also other mutations in SARS-CoV-2 and coronaviruses yet unknown. A broadly protective vaccine of this kind could help protect populations against future coronavirus pandemics arising from zoonotic viruses that jump from animals to humans.

Zeichner and Meng created their vaccine using genetically altered E. coli bacteria. While popularly associated with food poisoning, E. coli appears in many non-toxic varieties and is a widely studied model for research on microorganisms. The researchers deleted a large part of the genome from an E. coli strain that removed the bacterium’s outer surface, making it more susceptible and responsive to viruses. The team then inserted a synthetic form of circular DNA called a plasmid in the E. coli, with genetic code instructions to populate the surface of the modified E. coli with antigen proteins for a vaccine.

Those antigen proteins, designed in the plasmid’s genetic code as a fusion peptide, combine 13 amino acids that address common regions of the spike protein found on many types of coronaviruses, including those that infect animals as well as humans. From that modified E. coli platform, the researchers produced a vaccine designed to protect against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus or PEDV, a life-threatening coronavirus disease affecting pigs, causing diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. The two coronaviruses are distant relatives, but have similar spike protein chemistries.

One vaccine protects against two diseases

The UVa/VaTech team tested both vaccines on pigs, since pigs have organs similar in size and function as humans. After injecting the vaccine, the researchers injected the pigs with SARS-CoV-2 and PEDV viruses to test the vaccines’ protective responses. The results showed each vaccine produced antibodies against its specific disease target, including production of IFN-gamma cytokine enzymes indicating a strong immune response. And while each vaccine did not protect against infection, the vaccines did reduce viral loads and prevent disease symptoms from occurring.

In an another important finding, the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine also protected pigs against PEDV. For example, the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine reduced PEDV viral loads in jejunum tissue found in the pigs’ small intestines. As a result, the researchers believe this technology can be the basis for a broadly protective vaccine against a variety of coronaviruses.

Key features of the E. coli bacterial platform are its plug-and-play design and low cost of manufacturing. Researchers say they need only two or three weeks to produce new antigen proteins for a vaccine from the modified E. coli, once the target sequence is identified. And the team produced vaccines for this study using fermentation, a common inexpensive process for making vaccines against cholera and whooping cough, particularly in low-resource regions.

“Factories in many low-to-middle-income countries around the world are making hundreds of millions of doses of those vaccines per year now, for a $1 per dose or less,” says Zeichner in a UVa statement. “It may be possible to adapt those factories to make this new vaccine. Since the technology is very similar, the cost should be similar too.”

UVa and VaTech filed a provisional patent on the vaccine technology. The researchers say more preclinical tests and clinical trials are needed to determine the vaccine’s safety and efficacy before seeking regulatory authorization.

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Venture Fund to Support Seed-Stage Biotechs

KdT Ventures management

KdT Ventures partners and principals, left to right, Rima Chakrabarti, Phil Grayeski, Cain McClary, Mack Healy, and operations chief Ally Gudeman (KdT Ventures, Medium)

23 Mar. 2021. A venture capital company raised $50 million to invest in new businesses developing innovative products and services at the junction of biology and engineering. KdT Ventures in Austin, Texas says its new Fund II is backing entrepreneurs that aim to solve difficult problems with solutions that bring together data, engineering, and science.

KdT Ventures aims to invest in start-ups with solutions addressing unmet needs in what the company calls frontier science, where the worlds of biology and chemistry meet tools adapted from engineering and mathematics. Moreover, the company seeks to fund businesses in the earliest stages of development, or as they state in their manifesto, “We are often the first check into a company.” KdT raised $15 million for its first fund in 2018, according to Crunchbase, and today funds 24 enterprises in biotechnology, life sciences, therapeutics, and diagnostics, with a focus on computational tools or solutions.

Among KdT’s portfolio companies are Dyno Therapeutics in Cambridge, Mass., a spin-off enterprise from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University. Dyno designs synthetic viruses with artificial intelligence to deliver gene therapies, to overcome the limitations of natural adeno-associated viruses often used for gene therapy delivery. As reported in Science & Enterprise in May 2020, Dyno Therapeutics licensed its technology to drug makers Novartis and Sarepta Therapeutics in deals that could bringin as much as $2 billion.

Another KdT portfolio company is Rejuvenate Bio in La Jolla, California, a developer of gene therapies to reduce or reverse age-related diseases, starting with heart failure. As reported by Science & Enteprise in February 2020, its lead product is a gene therapy addressing a condition called mitral valve disease that affects dogs as well as humans.

Fill the gap between SBIR and series A

KdT Ventures says its $50 million Fund II aims to fill the seed-stage financial gap between Small Business Innovation Research grants set-aside in U.S. government agency science budgets for small U.S.-based companies and a company’s first full venture round, called series A. Investments range in size from $750,000 to $1.5 million, usually as leaders of financial syndicates in seed rounds, but also filling out other investor groups.

In an interview with Crunchbase News, KdT’s managing partner Cain McClary and principal Rima Chakrabarti outlined the kind of companies sought for Fund II that include engineering and fabrication of genes into programmable forms like circuits applied to therapeutics, agriculture, and chemicals, as well as biomaterials for delivering therapies and design of biological systems for consumers.

Before investing, KdT Ventures says it closely investigates portfolio prospects. KdT says it not only asks for details about a new start-up and its business plans, but also how the company plans to “take over the world.”

If everything went right, what would the company look like? How does this asset become a platform, dwarf and eat competitors, and most importantly move the world forward (and retain the value it creates)? Even if only for a couple of minutes, sketching this scenario out allows us to live for a second in the entrepreneur’s shoes and see their vision of the world through their eyes.

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Precision Cancer Immunotherapy Biotech Underway

T-cells and cancer cells

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

23 Mar. 2021. A new company is beginning work on a safer form of cancer immunotherapy that avoids toxic off-target effects, and raising $55 million in venture funds. Asher Biotherapeutics in South San Francisco, California is based on research by its scientific founders that apply computational genomics to more precisely direct the immune system to attack tumors.

Asher Biotherapeutics is designing cancer immunotherapies that address a continuing problem from pleiotropy, a condition where changes in a single gene can affect multiple human traits. In cancer immunotherapies, pleiotropy can cause unintended changes in cells and tissue other than the tumors, when the treatment’s cancer targets are attacked. The company’s technology is based on studies by its scientific founders, immunologist Ton Schumacher at Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam and pathology/immunology professor Robert Schreiber at Washington University in St. Louis.

Schumacher and Schreiber investigate neoantigens, unique sets of mutations expressed in cancer patients’ tumors, as cancer targets. Schreiber and colleagues design precise genomic techniques for targeting neoantigens characteristic of specific tumors, while Schumacher’s lab uses high-throughput genomic analysis to better target tumor neoantigens with T-cells in the immune system. Schumacher is also a serial entrepreneur who founded the company Neogene Therapeutics Inc. in Amsterdam in September 2020, as reported by Science & Enterprise.

“Therapeutics based on natural cytokines, costimulatory agonists, and checkpoint inhibitors,” says Schumacher in an Asher Bio statement, “have demonstrated meaningful efficacy, but are often limited by pleiotropic effects: antagonistic signaling and systemic toxicities due to their interaction with receptors on a wide range of cell types.”

Better targeting for IL-2

Asher Bio’s technology, called cis-targeting, addresses receptor proteins at two sites on surfaces of a single immune system cell, the therapeutic antigen target and a separate receptor that simulates immune responses, called an immunomodulator. The company applies computational techniques to screen immune system cells and sub-types for therapeutic benefits, but also for possible unintended toxicities or reverse effects that block the therapy. Asher Bio then engineers selected immune system cells to produce cytokine enzymes that bind only on specific tumor targets and boost their potency.

The company’s first product, code-named AB248 is an engineered protein that addresses receptor pathways for cancer-killing CD8+ T-cells in the immune system for interleukin-2 or IL-2 cytokines. Various IL-2 forms are already approved for treating some metastatic solid tumor cancers, but because of pleiotropy, IL-2 can also stimulate other unintended immune system cell types. And, because of its short active lifetime, IL-2 is needed in high doses, which can be toxic, causing heart and blood damage.

Asher Bio says AB248 is designed to selectively expand CD8+ T-cells to attack solid tumor cancer cells, but avoid promoting regulatory T-cells and natural killer cells in the immune system. “AB248, which was designed to target only CD8+ effector T cells,” notes company co-founder and chief scientist Ivana Djuretic, “has demonstrated superior selectivity and efficacy in multiple preclinical models and is expected to enter trials for the treatment of solid tumors in 2022.”

Asher Bio was formed and incubated by science and technology venture investor Third Rock Ventures in Boston, which led the company’s first venture funding round, raising $55 million. Taking part in the round are Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group, Invus, Y Combinator, and MBC Biolabs.

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Fast, Inexpensive Covid-19 Immunity Test Devised

Drop of blood

(Alden Chadwick, Wikimedia Commons)

22 Mar. 2021. Researchers in Canada developed a simple and inexpensive test for Covid-19 antibodies requiring a pinprick of blood, and returning results in under an hour. A team from the lab of biochemistry professor Igor Stagljar at University of Toronto describes the test and results with human blood samples in today’s issue of the journal Nature Communications.

A continuing need for public health authorities during the Covid-19 pandemic is tracking the extent of immunity against infection in the population. Because the severity of disease in survivors ranges from severe symptoms to none at all, and as the extent of vaccination grows, health authorities need a quick and easy way for residents to gauge their immunity to infection. Likewise, many individuals may want to test their immunity status before travel or family gatherings, and a quick and inexpensive lab test would help make that possible.

The so-called gold standard today to check for antibodies in blood is tests using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or Elisa technology. That assay, a system found in most licensed diagnostic labs, identifies and measures the number of antigens in blood samples. But an Elisa-based system usually requires multiple steps in a full-scale lab, trained staff, and usually several hours to complete and report. Other alternatives are paper strip tests like home pregnanacy tests that provide results quickly, but according to the researchers are not considered as reliable as Elisa assays, and give only a yes/no response, not a measurable quantity.

Stagljar’s lab studies properties of proteins found on cell membranes, which comprise about one-third of all proteins in cells, including receptor proteins that interact with other proteins from outside the cell. Up to last year, much of the lab’s work was devoted to cancer, but with the pandemic the lab turned to the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for Covid-19 infections. The result of their work is a test called SATiN, short for Serological Assay based on split Tripart Nanoluciferase. SATiN uses illuminating properties of luciferase enzymes, the same biochemicals that cause fireflies to illuminate.

Cost less than two Canadian dollars per test

A SATiN test uses a brightly illuminating luciferase enzyme called NanoLuc, divided chemically in three parts. One part is bound to the S protein found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 spikes, with another part fixed to protein G, found on bacterial cell walls that binds to immunoglobulin G or IgG antibodies found in blood serum. The third chemical segment remains unattached, which without this segment, prevents the luciferase enzyme from lighting up.

When IgG antibodies appear, however, the binding of an antibody with the spike protein and protein G links the missing luciferase segment with the other two parts, enabling the enzyme to illuminate, indicating the presence of IgG antibodies in the sample. The illumination can be read on a standard microplate reader for luminescent tests found in many labs, with results returned in under an hour, according to the researchers. And the team says the test costs less than two Canadian dollars, about $US 1.60.

A team led by test developer and first author Zhong Yao, senior research associate in the lab, tested SATiN on human blood samples, and compared those results to an Elisa-based test evaluating the same samples. The researchers assessed their test with drops of seven blood serum samples stored from before the pandemic and 82 Covid-19 samples from patients across Canada taken up to 80 days after symptom onset, to get variable concentrations of antibodies.

The results show the SATiN detects antibodies in blood serum samples, with the highest concentrations in samples taken within 20 days of symptom onset. And SATiN results correlated highly with Elisa-based lab tests, including concentration levels, offering a potential tool for measuring antibody levels and verifying vaccination status. “This will be of crucial importance for the next stage of the pandemic,” says Stagljar in a university statement, “especially now when governments of all countries started with mass vaccinations with recently approved anti-COVID-19 vaccines.”

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Synthetic Antibodies Shown to Control Blood Glucose

DNAmolcule model

(Skeeze, Pixabay)

22 Mar. 2021. A company creating biologics derived from synthetic DNA and genes discovered antibodies that control blood glucose levels in lab animals. Researchers from Twist Biosciences Corp. in South San Francisco, California describe their findings in the 12 Mar. issue of the peer-reviewed journal mAbs.

People with diabetes need to constantly monitor and control their blood glucose, usually by injections of insulin or insulin pumps. Since insulin injections are difficult for many people, researchers are looking for other ways to control glucose levels in blood. One strategy is to activate a type peptide that acts like glucagon, a hormone produced in the pancreas that works with insulin to keep blood glucose levels in a safe range. Proteins known as glucagon-like peptide 1, or GLP-1 receptor agonists are known to activate GLP-1 peptides to promote production of insulin in the pancreas.

The paper’s authors, led by Twist Biosciences’ chief scientist Aaron Sato, note that antibodies are one technique for activating receptor proteins, and often have superior active lifetimes, better targeting, and fewer side effects than peptides or small molecule drugs. But to date only two antibodies targeting receptor proteins are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Twist Biosciences 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, and from these synthetic genes, produce libraries of genetic variations. To find antibodies that target GLP-1 receptors, the Twist Bio team used its technology to generate a library of protein interactions called a phage display, derived from viruses that infect bacteria called bacteriophages, and a tool used increasingly to discover immunotherapies.

Created and tested synthetic antibody drugs

In this case, the phage display represents some 10 billion receptor proteins, with the researchers focusing on GLP-1 receptors. This screening tool made it possible to find 13 antibody candidates meeting desirable binding properties and peptide chemistry. Also among the candidates are antibodies that depress GLP-1 receptors, which can help reduce hypoglycemia incidents. Tests in lab cultures verified that these antibodies acted against GLP-1 receptors as designed, either to produce or reduce insulin concentrations.

In addition, the Twist Bio team created synthetic antibody drugs addressing GLP-1 receptors. One synthetic formulation combined a GLP-1 peptide to a lightweight antibody that by itself did not interact with GLP-1 receptors. The result, which the company code-names TB59-2, in lab cultures binds like the larger GLP-1 receptor antibodies and has a longer active lifetime. In tests with lab mice, say the researchers, TB59-2 is able to control blood glucose with a single weekly dose.

The team designed another synthetic antibody, this one acting as an antagonist or reducer of GLP-1 receptors, code-named TB01-3. The researchers gave TB01-3 antibodies to lab mice six hours before giving the same mice an extra dose of insulin. The results show mice receiving TB01-3 are able to raise their glucose levels, even more than a current GLP-1 receptor antagonist. And like the GLP-1 receptor or GLP-1R agonist antibody, TB01-3 remains active in the mice for at least a week.

“GLP-1R agonists and antagonists are widely used to control blood glucose levels to treat multiple diseases,” says Twist Bio CEO and co-founder Emily Leproust in a company statement, “which suggests our potent antibodies could have multiple clinical indications. We continue to advance these antibody leads and in parallel, work with a wide variety of partners to discover and optimize their antibodies across modalities and disease areas.”

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Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy for Eyes

– Sponsored content –

Eye measurements

(Sakuie, Pixabay)

22 Mar. 2021. When it is about physical and mental wellbeing, how can you ignore eyes? It is through your eyes that you cherish the visual pleasures of the world. Aging, infections, injuries, or genetic disorders rob your vision. Common eye treatments include the use of glasses, lenses, laser treatment, surgery, eye drops. PEMF therapy for the eye is an innovative concept that offers a galaxy of benefits to your mind and body, including your eyes.

 How Do the Eyes Function?

Eyes maintain a healthy vision through balanced blood flow and eye pressure. Iris and pupil monitor light passing through the cornea. This light falls on the retina. The retina contains photoreceptor cells, rods, and cones. These cells perform the crucial task of Photo transduction, converting light into electric signals and send them to the brain through the optic nerve.

Any obstruction in the path of light or its detection results in poor vision. It regulates micro-circulation in the eye, reduces inflammation, and facilitates self-regeneration in nerves. PEMF supports wound healing, cellular metabolism, and cell proliferation. So it can also cure the root causes of eye diseases which are diabetes and hypertension.

  1. PEMF Therapy for Cataract

A cataract is a condition when there is an accumulation of some protein or pigment on the lens. So there is less transmission of light on the retina, causing blurriness, cloudiness of lens, and scattering of light. PEMF can help to cure and prevent cataracts in the following ways.

  •     Increasing microcirculation in eye
  •     Reducing oxidative stress
  •     Maintaining the flow of fluids and nutrients
  •     and reducing pigment accumulation on lens
  1. PEMF for Glaucoma

Damage to the optic nerve results in glaucoma. Aqueous humor is a fluid that maintains the pressure and shape of the eye. It facilitates the transportation of nutrients in and of pathogens out of the eye. At the base of the cornea and iris lies the drainage network of an eye. A minor blockage in the drainage network (open-angle glaucoma) builds up pressure on the optic nerve. A major obstruction in the drainage network (closed-angle glaucoma) leads to loss of vision. PEMF can be helpful in the following ways.

  •     Improves circulation in eyes and smooth flow of aqueous humor
  •     Restores natural pressure of the eye
  •     Unblocks drainage network by reducing edema
  •     Regenerates nerve fibers and neurons
  1.   PEMF for Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is the distortion in vision that occurs due to the gradual degeneration of cone cells in the macula. The condition leads to poor image detection. The macula is a small area in the middle of the retina. The major factors are mitochondrial dysfunction, hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol. The accumulation of cellular debris in the macular causes damage to the photoreceptors cones. Certain PEMF systems are available in the market having special features to reverse the condition. It prevents the progression of macular damage by

  •     Regenerating neural tissues
  •     Enhances removal of wastes
  •     Increases oxygenation reducing oxidative stress
  •     Improves cellular metabolism and cures mitochondrial dysfunction
  1. PEMF and Retinitis Pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic disorder of the eye in which there is a supply of irrelevant protein to the retina. Rods cells are abundant in the outer layer of the retina. They detect light in a dim environment. The disease causes damage to rods; as a consequence, and the patient starts losing night and peripheral vision. The damage starts accessing the cones and results in the initiation of day-time vision-loss. Researches prove that PEMF results in improved visual performance in RP patients as

  •     Improves the light sensitivity of patients
  •     Treats the choroid ischemia (reduced supply of blood choroid)
  •     Reverses cells degeneration
  •     Enhances ATP production to provide energy to cells
  •     Initiates nerve sprouting

Final Verdict

PEMF machines are safe to use for sensitive parts like the eyes. You can choose any device depending on your condition. Many light-weight, handy devices available in various forms as patches or even PEMF glasses.

Besides eye diseases, PEMF therapy for the eyes provides an easy, painless, economical, and time-saving solution for overall eye health.

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