Global Roundup: Singapore Researchers Create Atlas of Gastric Cancer

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Researchers in Singapore have developed the world’s largest and highest-resolution atlas of gastric cancer. It is believed that this world’s largest analysis of gastric tumor cells will provide a launchpad for scientists to plan more effective therapies for this type of cancer.

Findings from the study have shown new insights into how gastric cancers progress and how tumors from separate patients differ from one another. The findings also identified molecular pathways driving gastric cancer growth and spread to other organs, and also how the disease can be better treated.

The research team sampled 46 tumors from 31 patients at various stages of the disease. From these samples, they analyzed 200,000 separate cells, using innovative techniques to assess individual patterns of gene expression.

The research was led by Duke-NUS Medical School and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS). Additional collaborators include the Singapore Immunology Network and the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore.  

“This study is important because it provides new insights into how gastric cancer develops. It is the most comprehensive study of its kind using advanced research technologies. Excitingly, our study identified some novel drug targets that may pave the way for new treatment strategies,” Professor Jimmy So, Head and Senior Consultant at the National University Hospital’s Division of General Surgery said in a statement. So is also Senior Consultant at the Division of Surgical Oncology at the National University Cancer Institute of Singapore.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Protodigm – London-based Protodigm initiated a study in collaboration with the Thrombosis Research Institute (TRI) to advance the fight against cardiovascular disease. TRI will lead the study, providing a global steering committee, hosting the database and biobank. Protodigm will provide pharmaceutical liaison, and asymmetric learning to the study datasets, to generate unique insights and knowledge gaps, build plans to learn, and identify potential therapeutic development paths. Protodigm and TRI are inviting Biotech and Pharma companies to join a pre-competitive alliance with the opportunity to collaborate in an exciting global cardiovascular project. The study is expected to run for four years.

SAGA Diagnostics AB – Sweden-based SAGA Diagnostics entered into an assay development agreement with the global, science-led biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. SAGA Diagnostics will develop unique SAGAsafe dPCR assays towards undisclosed methylated targets for analyses of tissue samples and liquid biopsies. SAGAsafe is a patented improvement of digital PCR that enables approximately 100-fold increased sensitivity compared to competitor methods, and can be used to quantify sequence variants in tissue samples as well as liquid biopsies such as blood plasma with unprecedented performance, according to company data.

Microbiome DX – Norway’s Microbiome DX secured a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that covers a diagnostic method that will be used to determine the likelihood that a patient with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) will respond to treatment with a low-FODMAP diet or Faecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT).

HUTCHMEDChina-based Hutchmed and AstraZeneca initiated SAMETA, a global Phase III study of savolitinib, an oral, potent, and highly selective small molecule inhibitor of MET, a receptor tyrosine kinase. Savolitinib will be assessed in combination with AstraZeneca’s PD-L1 inhibitor Imfinzi (durvalumab) in patients with MET-driven advanced papillary renal cell carcinoma (PRCC). The primary endpoint of the study is median progression free survival. Other endpoints include median overall survival, objective response rate, duration of response, 6-months and 12-months disease control rate, time to second progression, safety, pharmacokinetics and quality of life.

Illumigyn – Gynecological imaging platform illumigyn, based in Israel, closed its latest investment round, bringing the total raise to $33 million. The current investment round includes the Yozma Group Korea and Ubicom Holdings Japan. The funding will enable the company to accelerate its plans to bring cutting-edge gynecological imaging to women across the globe, starting this month with deployments in the United States, United Arab Emirates, India, Singapore, and South Korea. The investment will also support illumigyn’s research and development efforts. This includes the worldwide availability of preventive screenings, evaluations, diagnoses, and treatments.

Horizon Therapeutics – Ireland-based Horizon will present results from gout-related therapies at the American College of Rheumatology Convergence 2021. The company will present results from a new survey of practicing rheumatologists suggesting the presence of negative gout stigma surrounding causality and management of gout. Additionally, Horizon will present the largest in-practice analysis to-date showing the use of Krystexxa (pegloticase injection) with immunomodulation may impact treatment response rates for people living with chronic gout refractory to conventional therapies.

Antibiotic Research UK – The world’s first charity taking on bacterial antibiotic resistance, raised £200,000 ($273,000), the largest sum it has ever awarded through its 2021 Small Research Grants / Career Development Awards scheme. The grants will fund essential academic research in both basic and applied sciences to help prevent another global pandemic, this time caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria. The grants will support seven research projects across the U.K.

Dunad Therapeutics – Based in the U.K., Dunad Therapeutics entered into a strategic collaboration with Novartis to develop orally bioavailable covalent and protein degrading small molecule drugs.  Under terms of the agreement, Dunad will apply its tunable and highly selective platform to generate novel covalent and targeted protein degrading small molecule drugs focusing on up to four drug targets agreed with Novartis. Dunad will also be responsible for program execution up to lead optimization. Novartis will contribute target and ligand knowledge as well as access to unique assays and models and will fully fund the research collaboration. Novartis will pay Dunad $24 million upfront and milestone payments that could total up to $1.3 billion.

BioMed X – Germany’s BioMed X completed the research project DNA Damage in Cancer (DDC) in collaboration with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Based on the results of the project, Merck KGaA has extends the collaboration for a new research project in the field of oncology. The group developed CRISPR-Cas9 based assays that will aid in drug discovery research. They identified novel potential drug target genes which will be further investigated in pre-clinical studies at Merck KGaA.

BioNet – Slovenia-based BioNet and BIA Separations announced the successful development of an optimized mRNA manufacturing process. BIA’s expertise in chromatographic columns for mRNA purification combined with BioNet’s expertise in the product development of genetic vaccines have, since early 2021, enabled both teams to collaborate on the optimization and upscale of a high-yield mRNA production process. The new process has been successfully applied to the production of mRNA in the fight against COVID-19. The mRNA vaccine, produced at BioNet’s manufacturing facility, was developed by Chula Vaccine Research Center, Thailand in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania.

Cambridge Epigenetix – U.K.-based Cambridge Epigenetix closed an $88 million Series D financing round. The latest investment brings total funds raised to date for the company to $146 million. Proceeds from the financing will be used to commercialize the company’s proprietary genetic and epigenetic sequencing technology. CEGX’s product unambiguously identifies five letters of DNA – four genetic bases (A-T-C-G) plus methylated cytosine (5mC or 5hmC) – in a single sequencing workflow with a low DNA sample requirement and high accuracy.

Sartorius – Germany-based Sartorius was named an award winner for “Overall Best Bioprocessing Supplier” at the Europe Bioprocessing Excellence Awards 2021. According to award organizer IMAPAC, the awards seek to recognize exceptional bioprocessing experts, organizations, and technologies that facilitate biomanufacturing excellence at enhanced speed, reduced cost, and superior quality across Europe and the rest of the world.

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