Posts in Company Spotlight
Motif Bio – Saving humanity one antibiotic at a time

It has been a bumpy ride for RNA interference-based therapeutics. The protein-silencing phenomenon that shot into the spotlight with its 2006 Nobel Prize fell (aptly) quiet thereafter, suffering clinical disappointments and losing high-profile backing. But it is back with a bang: the first RNAi drug was FDA approved in August and a number of Big Pharma companies are striking deals with developers. Does this mark a watershed moment for RNAi therapeutics?

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Mapping tumour evolution to deliver better therapies: an interview with Cambridge Cancer Genomics

It has been a bumpy ride for RNA interference-based therapeutics. The protein-silencing phenomenon that shot into the spotlight with its 2006 Nobel Prize fell (aptly) quiet thereafter, suffering clinical disappointments and losing high-profile backing. But it is back with a bang: the first RNAi drug was FDA approved in August and a number of Big Pharma companies are striking deals with developers. Does this mark a watershed moment for RNAi therapeutics?

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CAR-T cells and Autolus - Advanced Cell Programming Technology

Over the past few decades, there has been a new wave of cancer therapeutics, called immunotherapies, that are capable of activating the immune system to recognise and fight malignant cells. One of the emerging therapies of this type, which begins to enter the clinic, is the Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. Here we explore CAR T-cell therapy and Autolus, one of the pioneering companies in the field.

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Machine Medicine Technologies: A tale of AI in healthcare

Machine Medicine Technologies is a London-based digital healthtech start-up that has developed a mobile app that digitally detects the motor characteristics of Parkinson’s disease.

Lovingly named after the famous physicist, Baron Kelvin, who had a penchant for measuring things, the platform can be used on any device, be it smartphone or tablet, to record, store and analyse the motor function of Parkinson’s patients on video. Using machine learning, the software analyses a video clip of a patient’s motor function to detect motor dysfunction in Parkinson’s patients far more reliably than doctors can on their own. Machine Medicine Technologies, and Kelvin with it, is a prime example of the transformative influence of AI on healthcare.

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Nightstar Therapeutics: Catching The Eye

Nightstar Therapeutics is a London-based clinical-stage gene therapy company developing treatments for inherited retinal diseases that lead to progressive blindness. Nightstar was born as a spinout from Oxford University, co-founded by Professor of Ophthalmology, Robert MacLaren. The company’s pipeline of therapies focusses on rare eye diseases that have no currently approved treatments, presenting a clear unmet medical need for patients. As a result, investors have been keen to tap into this potentially lucrative gap in the healthcare market. Indeed, since Nightstar’s initial public offering (IPO) on the USA’s biotech-friendly NASDAQ stock exchange market in September 2017, it has grown to boast a market capitalisation of $500 million.

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Desktop Genetics – The successful marriage of AI and genome editing

Desktop Genetics was founded in 2012 by a chemical engineer, a molecular biologist and a biochemist with the vision to combine bioinformatics and genetics to support researchers on their quest to cure human genetic diseases. With the advent of CRISPR-Cas9 in 2013, Desktop Genetics redirected its focus entirely onto the development of an artificial intelligence (AI) system. The system is tailored to design custom CRISPR libraries, an effort honoured by the founders’ placement on the Forbes 30 under 30 of Europe’s Technology sector. For those who have miraculously evaded all the rage about CRISPR-Cas9, it is the most precise genome editing technology currently available. It is based on a viral defence mechanism found in certain bacteria, and uses an endonuclease (Cas9) guided by a single-RNA to precisely target and cut complementary genomic sequences. This can then be used to introduce either mutations, knock-ins, knock-outs, or replace a faulty piece of DNA with a correct one.

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A startup from London brings personalised epigenetic testing directly to the everyday consumer.

As part of this month’s #genomejuly topic I was interested in the advances of the epigenome innovations in the biotech industry. I, therefore, recently spoke with Chronomics CEO, Dr. Tom Stubbs. Chronomics is a startup that brings personalised epigenetic testing directly to the everyday consumer. They offer a saliva test that will enable you to track epigenetic changes as a consequence of your diet, environment and lifestyle. Epigenetics is the study of alterations in the expression of genes without direct changes to the genetic code itself. During this month’s interview we spoke about Chronomics’ development and their realization in of the potential of epigenetic testing for personal health. I discussed with Tom the key challenges Chronomics overcame in their growth as an early-stage biotech company and his advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in the life sciences.

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The entrepreneurial journey of Timothy Brownstone (CEO of KYMIRA Sport)

The idea was initially developed by its CEO Timothy Brownstone, who had previously read a NASA research paper whilst at university discussing how infrared could be used to aid the growth of plants in space. With the understanding of this infrared technology, Tim set out to develop the concept of KYMIRA Sport which embeds Far Infrared (FIR) producing technology into the fabric of its sports clothing products. The technology in the fabric enhances the user’s performance and recovery during intense training and exercise by absorbing the waste energy from the body and latent energy from the environment. This energy is converted into FIR which increases the production of nitric oxide which then leads to increases in circulation, tissue oxygenation, energy production, pain relief and an increased efficiency in respiration.

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