BlackRock and QLS Advisors | July 19, 2022
BlackRock and QLS Advisors LLC, a life sciences technology and advisory firm, have announced a partnership through BlackRock Systematic to develop data-driven investment solutions to help accelerate biomedical innovation. The partnership will leverage the firms’ combined Research and Development and investment experience, directing funding toward public and private companies that have the potential to create transformative therapies while seeking to earn attractive investment returns for clients.
Biomedicine is at an inflection point: breakthrough therapies—with the potential to extend longevity and improve quality of life—are emerging at an ever-increasing pace. Funding these therapeutic development programs has the potential to deliver attractive investment returns, but as biomedicine has grown more complex, so have the risks to investors.
QLS has developed proprietary technology for estimating the probability of success of clinical trials, a key driver of financial performance, and systematically incorporating these forecasts into fundamental valuation models and portfolio construction algorithms. Their approach applies machine learning techniques to a multitude of predictive factors including therapeutic characteristics, clinical trial design features, disease-specific characteristics, and drug company track records.
This methodology, coupled with BlackRock Systematic’s global platform, proprietary analytics, and more than 35 years1 of data-driven investment experience, presents a differentiated approach to investing in life sciences companies.
“BlackRock’s partnership with QLS applies sophisticated quantitative investment technologies to the intersection of finance, academia, and life sciences. QLS brings an industry-leading approach to investing in life sciences that complements the work that BlackRock Systematic is doing in our actively managed portfolios. We expect this will create compelling, differentiated solutions that can deliver attractive returns for our clients while providing funding for life-changing therapies.”
Rich Kushel, Head of the Portfolio Management Group BlackRock
Andrew Lo, QLS Co-founder and Professor of Finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management commented: “We founded QLS to improve the way financial resources are allocated to emerging therapies, with the goal of lowering the cost of capital in this important sector. With BlackRock, we gain a partner who is a recognized leader in data-driven investing and shares our passion for delivering investment returns with positive outcomes for society. We’re thrilled and honored to join forces with a firm that has such a strong and trusted global brand, broad network, and access to world-class investment resources.”
BlackRock and QLS have also assembled a Scientific Advisory Council comprising renowned academics, medical doctors, and inventors. The Council will support sourcing, due diligence, and value creation through the members’ vast networks and decades of experience as industry leaders in their respective fields. The Council is expected to include
Dr. Robert Langer, Institute Professor, MIT Department of Chemical Engineering, and founder of over 40 biotechnology companies including Moderna.
Ms. Lita Nelsen, retired director of the MIT Technology Licensing Office; now consultant in technology licensing.
Dr. Larry Norton, Senior Vice President, Norna S. Sarofim Chair in Clinical Oncology and Medical Director of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Past President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, ASCO David Karnofsky Awardee, FASCO, FAACR.
Dr. Richard H. Scheller, Chairman of Research and Development BridgeBio. Board of Directors BridgeBio, Alector, 23andMe, DICE and others. Former Executive Vice President Research and Early Development Genentech and former HHMI Investigator and Professor Stanford University Medical School.
Dr. Phillip A. Sharp, Institute Professor, MIT Department of Biology, geneticist and molecular biologist who co-discovered RNA splicing, co-founded Biogen and Alnylam, and the recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
About BlackRock Systematic
BlackRock’s systematic investment platform brings together BlackRock’s community of systematic investors across equity, fixed income, and factor-based strategies. Systematic portfolios combine cutting-edge technology, scientific research, and human insight in the relentless pursuit of investment performance. With over 35 years of experience and nearly 200 professionals across the globe managing over US$200 bn in client assets as of March 31, 2022, BlackRock Systematic partners with clients to deliver quantitative alpha-seeking and factor-based investment solutions for the whole portfolio.
About QLS Advisors LLC
QLS Advisors LLC is a life sciences technology and advisory company based in Cambridge, MA, dedicated to fostering biomedical innovation. QLS employs a unique blend of fundamental and quantitative tools to help clients manage risk, assess reward, and develop investment and financing strategies for portfolios of healthcare-related assets.
Amplicore, Inc. | July 15, 2022
Amplicore Inc., a Mason, OH-based, early-stage biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of minimally invasive therapeutic solutions for musculoskeletal disorders, today announced that the Food and Drug Administration has cleared their first application for AM3101, a novel treatment to promote healing of acute meniscal tears. The move enables the initiation of a Department of Defense-sponsored phase 1/2b clinical study in concert with the University of Cincinnati.
The FDA clearance marks the company's transition into a clinical stage company. In addition to AM3101, the company's pipeline also includes AM1101, which is being developed for osteoarthritis, and AM2101, with an indication to treat degenerative disc disease.
"We are very proud to announce the clearance for AM3101. Despite their commonality, service men and women have limited treatment options for acute meniscal tears. While suturing is often the most frequent approach, the failure rate for surgery is quite high due to the limited reparative capacity of much of the tissue. Our research has found that our Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) provides pain relief and promotes regeneration of the meniscus, as well as several other structurally related joint tissues. In this way, the transition of Amplicore into a clinical stage company represents a critical development for all patients suffering from musculoskeletal conditions."
Chief Executive Officer/Founder Dr. James Lin
Amplicore also announced the addition of Steve Schrader to its advisory board. A high-impact financial leader with three decades of experience in corporate finance, Schrader has held Chief Financial Officer positions in a variety of industries, including an international auto glass company, a private healthcare company, a Fortune 500 public utility, and a NASDAQ-listed startup. Throughout his career, Steve has increased revenue and raised over $1.3 Billion in capital for companies. He has also taken two firms from start-up to manufacturing.
Schrader will advise on financial planning and fundraising efforts. "Amplicore is a leader in developing injectable therapeutics for musculoskeletal disorders. I am excited to join the board during this pivotal time as they work to close their Series A investment round, and I look forward to being a part of their future success."
ABOUT AMPLICORE, INC.
Amplicore, Inc. is an early-stage biotech start-up company based on technology developed in the laboratory of CEO/Founder Dr. Chia-Ying Lin at the University of Cincinnati. Headquartered in Mason, OH, the company is dedicated to developing novel injectable therapeutics to serve unmet medical needs for degenerative musculoskeletal disorders. Unlike current therapies that focus solely on palliative treatment, Amplicore is also taking a regenerative approach to treating these disorders. The company's lead products, AM3101, AM1101, and AM2101, address significant deficiencies in the current standard of care for the treatment of acute meniscal tear, osteoarthritis, and degenerative disc disease, respectively. Amplicore's overall mission is to translate scientific innovation into effective but minimally invasive products that can be easily delivered to patients.
Inozyme Pharma Inc. | June 17, 2022
Inozyme Pharma, Inc. a clinical-stage rare disease biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of abnormal mineralization, today announced a partnership with Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine (RCIGM) to advance and evaluate a novel newborn screening technology to facilitate diagnosis of genetic diseases. The partnership includes several leading genomics, biotechnology companies and patient advocacy groups and focuses specifically on a diagnostic and precision medicine guidance tool called BeginNGS™, which incorporates rapid Whole Genome Sequencing (rWGS®) to currently screen newborns for approximately 400 genetic diseases.
“Newborn screening will be essential to identifying and initiating timely intervention in children with rare genetic disorders like GACI (generalized arterial calcification of infancy) as we advance INZ-701 through clinical testing. We look forward to working with Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine, and with the BeginNGS consortium, to advance the use of this promising screening technology.”
Catherine Nester, vice president, physician and patient strategies at Inozyme Pharma
RCIGM is in a pilot evaluation that aims to supplement existing newborn screening protocols at birthing hospitals throughout the United States. The pilot program’s goal is for BeginNGS to become the genetic disease screening standard, with testing expanding to approximately 1,000 [disorders] and sequencing of 3.7 million newborns annually. Founding members of the public-private BeginNGS consortium include Inozyme, Alexion, Travere Therapeutics, and several patient advocacy groups that are helping to advance this program.
“RCIGM helped pioneer the use of rWGS for diagnosis of genetic disease in intensive care settings,” said Stephen Kingsmore, MD, DSc, president and CEO of RCIGM. “With the proven clinical utility of diagnostic rWGS , we are using that experience to screen, diagnose, and help treat genetic conditions at or before onset of symptoms. Through a public-private consortium of leading organizations such as Inozyme, and advocacy groups in pediatrics, genetics, biopharma, biotech, and information technology, we aim to scale newborn sequencing to every life-threatening childhood genetic disease, RCIGM believes now is the time to end the diagnostic and therapeutic odyssey for all children with treatable genetic diseases.”
BeginNGS developed through a research collaboration with Alexion; AstraZeneca’s Rare Disease group; Illumina, Inc.; TileDB; Fabric Genomics; and Genomemon, which uses rWGS to diagnose and identify treatment options for genetic conditions before symptoms begin. This approach represents an advance over current pediatric uses of rWGS that focus mainly on children who are already critically ill. Once a diagnosis is made, BeginNGS uses Genome-to-Treatment (GTRx™), a tool that provides immediate treatment guidelines to help physicians understand genetic conditions and their available treatment options.
Addressing the Need for Enhanced Newborn Screening Tools
Traditional newborn screening is one of the most successful public health programs in the United States. Of nearly 4 million babies born annually, 98 percent are tested in the first days of life. The BeginNGS test identifies serious childhood diseases that have effective treatments. States currently screen for only 31 to 76 of the hundreds of severe, childhood genetic diseases that have available treatments. Adding a new condition to the screening protocol is slow (5 to 6 years per condition), laborious, and costly. In the last decade, WGS has increased in speed, diagnostic performance, and scalability. BeginNGS will not replace the current biochemical newborn screening paradigm; rather, it is designed to complement the newborn screening processes and infrastructure that are already in place.
“We are thrilled at the prospect of newborn screening to assist in early identification of infants affected by ENPP1 Deficiency and ABCC6 Deficiency via Inozyme’s collaboration with Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. Early diagnosis is crucial to improving a baby’s chances of survival and long-term health if they have these rare and devastating diseases,” said Christine O’Brien and Liz Molloy, co-presidents of GACI Global.
About Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine
Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine is transforming pediatric critical care by advancing disease-specific healthcare for infants and children with rare disease. Discoveries at the Institute are enabling rapid diagnosis and targeted treatment of critically ill newborns and pediatric patients at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and a growing network of more than 60 children’s hospitals nationwide. The vision is to expand delivery of this life-changing technology to enable the practice of Rapid Precision Medicine™ at children’s hospitals across the nation and the world. RCIGM is a non-profit, research institute embedded within Rady Children’s Hospital and Health Center.
About Inozyme Pharma
Inozyme Pharma, Inc. is a clinical-stage rare disease biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of diseases of abnormal mineralization impacting the vasculature, soft tissue, and skeleton. Through our in-depth understanding of the biological pathways involved in mineralization, we are pursuing the development of therapeutics to address the underlying causes of these debilitating diseases. It is well established that two genes, ENPP1 and ABCC6, play key roles in a critical mineralization pathway and that defects in these genes lead to abnormal mineralization. We are initially focused on developing a novel therapy, INZ-701, to treat the rare genetic diseases of ENPP1 and ABCC6 Deficiencies. INZ-701 is currently in Phase 1/2 clinical trials for the treatment of ENPP1 Deficiency and ABCC6 Deficiency.