CFB BEIR Receives $1.9M SBIR Fast-Track

Avanti Biosciences, Inc. a preclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company lead by Center for Biotechnology BioEntrepreneur-in-Residence Dr. Gian Luca Araldi, has announced that the National Institute of Aging (NIA) has awarded the Company an SBIR fast-track grant of up to $1,930,000 to support the company’s small molecule treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) over the next 3 years.

The award will enable the preparation and testing of Avanti’s proprietary compounds derivatized from natural catechins, which inhibit DYRK1A, an enzyme that modulates tau phosphorylation. Working with NY Institute for Basic Research and the University of California San Diego (UCSD), the company hopes to attenuate and potentially reverse pathogenesis for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

“This award marks a significant milestone for Avanti Biosciences and an important step for their research into a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease” stated Dr. Clinton Rubin, Director of the New York State Center for Biotechnology at Stony Brook University. “The Center for Biotechnology is thrilled to see another success for one of the emerging bioscience companies fueling our regional bioecosystem and we proudly support Dr. Araldi’s work as one of our BioEntrepreneurs-in-Residence.”

Dr. Gian Luca Araldi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Avanti, stated, “We are delighted to have been granted this funding from the NIA as it underscores the great need for innovative, effective treatments for this disease, and recognizes the potential benefits that our compounds may provide for patients with AD. The continuous support of Center for Biotechnology and the BioEntrepreneur-in-Residence program has been critical force in the development of our technology and the company as whole.”

More than five million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive, irreversible, neurodegenerative disease that destroys memory and other cognitive abilities. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and as the aging population in the country grows, the incidence rate is expected to rise dramatically.

Learn more about Avanti Biosciences: avantibiosciences.com

Getting Serious About BioEntrepreneurship in New York

Center for Biotechnology BioEntrepreneur-in-Residence and Founder and CEO of Traverse Biosciences, Joseph Scaduto, recently penned a powerful article discussing the importance of human capital to the growth and sustainability of New York’s bioscience ecosystem.

“…the prospect of “jumping ship” into a new bioscience venture is not just risky, it is downright scary, if not financially impossible, exacerbated further by the frightening lack of alternative job opportunities in the high-probability event of failure. In my opinion, this seemingly insurmountable and geographic “barrier to entry,” defined by the comparatively excessive risk of bioentrepreneurship, is a primary reason why New York continues to struggle to develop, cultivate and grow a vibrant, dynamic and self-sustaining bioscience industry cluster.”

Read the full article 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 Biomentoring Initiative Established

Program Established to Foster Vibrant Bioscience Cluster in the Region

On Friday, November 18th at the Long Island High Technology Incubator, the Long Island BioMentor Initiative (LIBMI) will be hosting its first full-day mentor training session for the founding mentors of the new initiative. Led by the Center for Biotechnology at Stony Brook University and Accelerate Long Island, the LIBMI has been established on behalf of the Long Island Bioscience Hub – an NIH-designated Research, Evaluation, and Commercialization Hub. The LIBMI is a platform to bring highly qualified, volunteer mentors together with motivated, early-stage bioentrepreneurs to provide guidance and support as they advance their business strategy.

The LIBMI is based on the successful mentoring model developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Venture Mentoring Service (VMS), and created in collaboration with Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Hofstra University, and the Feinstein Institute at Northwell Health Systems. Through MIT VMS’s team mentoring approach, the LIBMI aims to provide objective and unbiased advice that will help entrepreneurs navigate the challenging landscape that growing bioscience ventures face. Mentors participating in the November 18th training session led by a MIT VMS Co-Director will benefit from curriculum and interactive teachings along with a mentoring session with one of the first entrepreneurs chosen to serve as mentee.

“There is an abundance of innovation on Long Island as well as a growing pool of entrepreneurs looking to create ventures that will take root and grow in the region” said Mark Lesko, Board Member, Accelerate Long Island. Diane Fabel, Director of Operations for the Center for Biotechnology added “Establishing a formal mentoring program, specifically for the bioscience sector, is critical as these companies need diverse support in order for them to thrive.”

The initiative employs the team mentoring approach and brings together experts with great depth and a range of experiences. The members of the founding mentor team include Dr. Linda Amper, Chief People Officer of Clever Devices; Dr. Gian Luca Araldi, founder and principal of US Pharma Services; Kara Cannon, Global Head of Sales & Marketing of Enzo Life Sciences, Inc.; Dr. Anil Dhundale, former Executive Director of the Long Island High Technology Incubator; Dr. Wayne Koff, President and CEO of Human Vaccines Project; Ric Overton, President of Overton Operations Advisors; Jeff Peacock, VP Global Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs at Henry Schein, Inc.; Dr. Saied Tousi, Managing Director for NW Advisors; and Edward Travaglianti, Market President of Long Island for TD Bank.

The entire process is guided by a statement of principles to ensure confidentiality and a conflict free environment. The initiative will build upon a suite of services and resources provided by the NIH-designated Research, Evaluation, and Commercialization Hub (LI Bioscience Hub), Accelerate Long Island and the Emerging Technology Fund, the New York State Center for Advanced Technology in Medical Biotechnology.

“It’s important to me to help support the entrepreneurial ecosystem on Long Island” founding mentor Ed Travaglianti stated, “and the team approach expands our capacity, allowing us to mentor more than one entrepreneur.”

Learn more about the Long Island BioMentor Initiative here.

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