NIH-REACH: Lowering the Barriers that Slow Translation Research

The Center for Biotechnology’s Clint Rubin and Diane Fabel recently co-authored a STAT article on the NIH-REACH proof-of-concept program. In 2015, The Center for Biotechnology received one of three national NIH-REACH designations, through which the Long Island Bioscience Hub was established.

The article, co-authored by all of the REACH center directors, discusses the importance of REACH-type programs and the impact REACH has been able have in a relatively short amount of time. In just over two years, the three REACH institutions have evaluated over 400 promising product development projects, funding more than 60 experimental treatments and tests that target a wide range of health issues.

Read the full text here:

Celmatix unveils Fertilome

New York City based start-up Celmatix has unveiled “Fertilome”, a DNA-based fertility test. The company describes Fertilome as the “first genetic screen that examines a woman’s genetic signature and how it may impact her reproductive health and ability to conceive, today and in the future.”

Fertilome looks at 49 variants in 32 genes associated with a broad spectrum of female reproductive conditions. Information derived from the test could allow women to see a broader picture of their fertility, allowing for a more proactive approach to planning their family and overcoming fertility issues. Click here to read more about Celmatix and Fertilome.

Codagenix Inks Exclusive License Agreement

Codagenix, Inc. has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Stony Brook University, through the Research Foundation for the State of New York, to commercialize a platform technology to develop a pipeline of live attenuated vaccines against viral infections in people and animals. The technology relies on software to re-design the genomes of potentially harmful viruses to make them safe and effective vaccines. The technology stems from research in the laboratory of Eckard Wimmer, PhD, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology. The lead indication for vaccine development generated is a vaccine against Seasonal Influenza slated for Phase I human clinical trials in 2017.

Dr. Wimmer, along with Steffen Mueller, PhD, Codagenix President and Chief Science Officer, and J. Robert Coleman, PhD, Codagenix Chief Operating officer, worked as colleagues for years in Dr. Wimmer’s laboratory examining and experimenting with the genes of viruses. By collaborating with Stony Brook scientists Bruce Futcher, PhD, in the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, and Steven Skienna, PhD, in the Department of Computer Science, they discovered a way using gene manipulation and computer algorithms to “re-code” the genes of viruses. This re-coding process makes viruses extremely weak and thus ideal candidates as ultra-low dose attenuated vaccines.

The licensing agreement enables Codgenix to develop and potentially market next generation vaccines using software-based gene design and whole viral synthesis to create low-dose, attenuated virus vaccines. The company expects to use this design to first test its vaccine against influenza; however, there are plans for human testing of their Zika and other vaccine candidates. Codagenix is also in partnership with a large agricultural company to make vaccines using the technology for companion and agricultural animals.

The technology has been shown to be effective against numerous viruses including ZIka, Dengue, and RSV all of which are in preclinical testing. The development of this pipeline of vaccines can be seen in numerous scientific papers since 2008, including a paper in Science, PNAS, National Biotechnology and most recently in 2015 in MBIo.

Read Stony Brook University’s full press release here. 

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Long Island Bioscience Hub Announces Additional Funded Projects

Third round of grants awarded for the development of commercially promising biomedical innovations

The Center for Biotechnology at Stony Brook University, on behalf of the Long Island Bioscience Hub (LIBH), announced the recipients of the third round of funded projects under the Hub’s technology development and commercialization initiative. Funding for ten projects totaling $550,000 has been awarded to applicants from the Hub’s partner institutions. Partner institutions include Stony Brook University, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at Northwell Health. Eighteen months after its establishment, the LIBH has already awarded more than $2M to faculty innovators.

The technology development awards made available by the LIBH are specifically aimed at growing a pipeline of commercially promising biomedical technologies that can be out-licensed for further development or serve as the foundation for new company formations in the region. There are two tiers of funding, each with the goal of accelerating technology development to reach a critical development inflection point. Feasibility awards ($50,000) are designed to rapidly test the feasibility of new ideas in a “fail-fast-or-proceed” format, or to add value to existing intellectual property leading to new market applications. Proof-of-Concept Awards ($100,000) provide targeted, milestone driven support for further development, testing, and analysis of existing intellectual property.

A wide range of disciplines are represented in the project awards this cycle including radiology, quantitative biology, biomedical engineering, chemistry, neurosurgery and cancer research. Nine Feasibility awards and one Proof of Concepts award have been funded this cycle. Projects awarded funding in this round include the development of radiotracers for use with PET scans to detect bacterial infections, specifically infective endocarditis (IE); a non-immune-based drug targeting amyloid ß-protein (Aß) for the treatment of mild Alzheimer’s disease; DNA nano-carrier platform technology for targeted anti-thrombotic drug delivery in prosthetic heart valve and mechanical circulatory support patients; A medical device utilizing electrical and software engineering in order to detect congenital heart disease in newborn children, and profiling the human immune system through machine learning and bioinformatics. The full list of funded projects can be found on the LIBH webpage.

“The latest announcement of funded project for the LIBH demonstrates the volume of innovation housed within partner institutes that is primed to be moved out of the academic lab and into the commercial sector in order to help patients” said Clinton T. Rubin, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Director, Center for Biotechnology. “It is exciting to witness our region’s innovators contemplating their research in ways they hadn’t before, and to see the vibrancy of the bioscience cluster on Long Island growing with each new project proposed.”

“Putting CSHL scientists together with HUB biotech entrepreneurs and industry reviewers is key to the successful translation of early stage ideas resulting from the basic research of Dr. Lingbo Zhang and Mickey Atwal, said Teri Willey, CSHL Vice President Business Development and Technology Transfer. “Zhang’s genetic research on myelodysplastic syndrome will be complimented by experience in medicinal chemistry. Similarly, Atwal’s work on developing therapeutics using physics and math to profile to the immune system will benefit from industry reviewers to guide it toward patient benefit.”

“The success of the Long Island Bioscience Hub demonstrates the value of creative partnerships in bringing medical solutions that help address patients’ needs from the research lab to the doctor’s office and the medical clinic. We are proud to be part of the Bioscience Hub’s success,” said Kevin J. Tracey, M.D., President and CEO of the Feinstein Institute.

The main goal of the LIBH is to foster the development of therapeutics, preventatives, diagnostics, devices and research tools emerging from LIBH partner institutions that address diseases within the NIH’s mission.

Download a PDF of the press release here.

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