Feinstein Institutes | November 29, 2022
Peptides, short sections of proteins made up of chains of amino acids, are an important area of new drug development due to their potential for increased specificity and fewer side effects. Their main drawback is the rapid degradation by the body’s own enzymes, which has led to the need to develop longer-lasting peptide alternatives. Azapeptides are one type of peptide alternative that has shown great potential as therapeutics, exemplified by the HIV drug, Atazanavir.
A new paper published in the journal Nature Communications by researchers at The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research details proprietary reagents and methods that can selectively replace only those amino acids known to be targeted by enzymes with more stable versions to create azapeptides.
The paper, authored by Yousef Al-Abed, PhD, co-director of the Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine at the Feinstein Institutes, describes the proprietary building blocks and method used to conduct systematic and robust peptide editing, replacing targeted amino acids with aza-amino acids to form more stable and efficient azapeptides. The azapeptides created could expedite the novel therapies to treat many diseases and conditions, including metabolic disease, influenza, pulmonary arterial hypertension, Crohn’s disease, arthritis, and irritable bowel diseases, among others.
The paper, titled “Thiocarbazate building blocks enable the construction of azapeptides for rapid development of therapeutic candidates,” provides multiple examples of azapeptide construction, screening, and selection using a known peptide inhibitor of inflammation and bradykinin.
“Peptides as drug candidates are easy to discover yet difficult to develop as final drugs because of their fast degradation in our body. A technology that circumvents these problems inherent to native peptides will change the future landscape of drug discovery. Our technology provides a platform of tools that enable minimal modification of any peptide at highly prone degradation sites, thereby increasing its life span in our body, allowing it more time to find its target and neutralize it.”
Through peptide editing, going from peptide to azapeptide, using methods that Dr. Al-Abed and his team detail in the new paper, scientists can create potential therapies that have enhanced characteristics compared to natural peptides, like longer stabilities in a more efficient manner. Dr. Al-Abed and his team have precisely engineered thiocarbazates (a novel functional group) in the proprietary process to achieve an almost universal and more efficient means to selectively replace amino acids in a peptide chain.
“Peptide drugs are a crucial resource for patients and the global pharmaceutical industry,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes and Karches Family Distinguished Chair in Medical Research. “Dr. Al-Abed and his team invented a fully automated chemical strategy using novel chemistry to make new peptide drugs which is an important new avenue for peptide drug discovery.”
About the Feinstein Institutes
The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research is the research arm of Northwell Health, the largest health care provider and private employer in New York State. Home to 50 research labs, 3,000 clinical research studies and 5,000 researchers and staff, the Feinstein Institutes raises the standard of medical innovation through its five institutes of behavioral science, bioelectronic medicine, cancer, health innovations and outcomes, and molecular medicine. We make breakthroughs in genetics, oncology, brain research, mental health, autoimmunity, and are the global scientific leader in bioelectronic medicine – a new field of science that has the potential to revolutionize medicine.
Lifespin | September 16, 2022
Lifespin GmbH, based in Regensburg with offices in Boston, Massachusetts, announced that it has launched a new commercial service that, for the first time, will provide the pharmaceutical and biobanking industry with access to Lifespin’s proprietary metabolic database, along with its advanced interpretive software to assist in various phases of drug research, development, and manufacturing.
Immediate applications of Lifespin’s commercial services will include quality control for synthetic/natural compounds, quantitative profiling of metabolites in liquid samples, monitoring of drug responses and organ-specific metabolic phenotyping, and precision nutrition to therapeutic drug monitoring and longitudinal treatment monitoring.
“Making our technology platform accessible to the pharma and biobanking industry will provide the field with deeper clinical insights and improve stratification of patient data in clinical trials, enabling pharmaceutical companies and others in the field to perform a range of precision phenotyping of cell or animal models and patient cohorts. Our goal is to provide the pharma and biobank scientists with yet another powerful resource in their development toolbox, including our advanced algorithms and database, to enhance their earlier phase analysis and to help better identify the strengths and weaknesses of compounds in study during research through clinical trials.”
Dr. Ali Tinazli, CEO of Lifespin GmbH
Lifespin, a deep data company that maps human health based on snapshots of metabolic states, has built one of the largest and most comprehensive databases of metabolic health profiles across healthy and diseased individuals covering multiple age and gender groups as well as specific diseases in neurology, oncology, and inflammation. Utilizing proprietary technology, Lifespin is performing quantitative in-house measurements of metabolomes, digitizing metabolic profiles that include billions of metabolic relationships. These digital metabolic profiles allow systematic mapping across various health conditions and may enable differential diagnosis and early detection of health conditions, staging of diseases, monitoring of treatment success and personalized medicine. Lifespin’s advisory board consists of key opinion leaders such as James Rothman (Nobel Laureate in Physiology/Medicine, Sterling Professor of Cell Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT USA) and other prominent leaders in the relevant fields of study.
Inversago Pharma Inc. | October 18, 2022
Inversago Pharma Inc. a clinical stage biotech company with a unique portfolio of peripherally-acting CB1 inverse agonists, announced the completion of a Series C funding of $95 million CAD led by New Enterprise Associates. Additional new investors Forbion’s Growth Opportunities Fund and Amgen Ventures joined current investors including Forbion’s Ventures Fund IV Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Genesys Capital, AmorChem, JDRF T1D Fund and adMare BioInnovations in the financing round.
Proceeds from the Series C financing will be used to move Inversago’s lead program, INV-202, into a Phase 2 clinical trial in Diabetic Kidney Disease in Q4 2022. This follows the previously announced IND clearance from the FDA and the upcoming promising Phase 1b topline results in subjects with metabolic syndrome. Additionally, the funds will accelerate the Company’s other key programs currently in pre-clinical development, while establishing its leadership in the field of CB1 blockers.
“We are privileged to have the support and commitment of such an impressive investor syndicate at this critical stage of the Company’s development. This new round of financing is a strong endorsement of the whole Inversago team, who have carried the vision to leverage the potential of the CB1 blockade in developing potent treatments for a growing number of patients suffering from metabolic conditions, such as Diabetic Kidney Diseases and other diabetes-related conditions”.
François Ravenelle, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Inversago Pharma
Commenting on the investment, Ed Mathers, General Partner at NEA, said: “Inversago has demonstrated that peripherally-acting CB1 blockers have an untapped potential to create a new class of target therapies that serve diabetic patient populations. Today’s financing reflects our shared vision and collaboration with the Company’s management as they initiate a Phase 2 clinical trial with INV-202”.
Nanna Lüneborg, General Partner at Forbion Growth, added: “We are delighted to join this Series C financing of Inversago, and support the Company to develop a pipeline of new therapies which promise to make a profound impact on the lives of patients with cardiometabolic diseases. We have been impressed by the terrific progress of Inversago since Forbion led the Company’s Series B round two years ago and are excited to further support the Company from both Forbion Growth and Forbion Ventures”.
New Enterprise Associates, Inc. is a global venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build transformational businesses across multiple stages, sectors and geographies. With nearly $24 billion in cumulative committed capital since the firm's founding in 1977, NEA invests in technology and healthcare companies at all stages in a company's lifecycle, from seed stage through IPO. The firm's track record of investing includes more than 260 portfolio company IPOs and more than 440 mergers and acquisitions.
Forbion is a dedicated life sciences venture capital firm with offices in The Netherlands, Germany and Singapore. Forbion invests in life sciences companies that are active in the (bio-) pharmaceutical space. Forbion manages well over EUR 2 billion across multiple fund strategies that cover all stages of pharmaceutical drug development. Forbion’s current team consists of over 30 life sciences investment professionals that have built an impressive performance track record since the late nineties with investments in 92 companies. Besides financial objectives, Forbion selects investments that will positively affect the health and well-being of patients. The firm is a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. Forbion operates a joint venture with BGV, the manager of seed and early-stage funds, especially focused on Benelux and Germany.
About Amgen Ventures
Amgen Ventures is Amgen's corporate venture capital fund, dedicated to investing in emerging companies and technologies to advance promising new medicines and solutions to healthcare’s biggest challenges.
About Inversago Pharma
Located in Montreal, Inversago Pharma is a privately owned Canadian biotech company at clinical stage, specialized in the development of new therapies focusing on CB1 blockade, based on first-in-class, peripherally-acting CB1 inverse agonists. Inversago aims to provide new treatment options that improve the lives of patients affected by metabolic conditions such as Diabetic Kidney Disease including Diabetic Nephropathy Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis complications of obesity and hypertriglyceridemia as well as fibrotic indications like Progressive Fibrosis-Interstitial Lung Disease including Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and other conditions.
Everest Medicines | September 19, 2022
Everest Medicines a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing transformative pharmaceutical products to address critical unmet needs in Asia Pacific markets, announced that it has appointed Rogers Yongqing Luo as Chief Executive Officer of the Company, effective immediately. Mr. Luo will also serve as an Executive Director on Everest's Board of Directors.
Mr. Luo brings to Everest more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry with an extensive leadership track record across clinical development, regulatory affairs and commercialization. Previously, Mr. Luo served as President and General Manager, Greater China at Brii Biosciences and CEO of TSB Therapeutics where he spearheaded the rapid registration approval, GMP certification and successful commercialization of the amubarvimab/romlusevimab combination, the first COVID-19 neutralizing antibody treatment in China. Prior to that, he was Global Vice President and China General Manager at Gilead Sciences where he led the clinical development, regulatory approval and successful commercial launch of eight innovative therapeutics, and efforts that rapidly expanded patient access across China. Mr. Luo previously oversaw the successful launch of several high-profile medicines. He managed sales, marketing, government affairs and market access functions for various leading multinational pharmaceutical companies including Roche and Novartis, and worked two years at Novartis headquarter in Switzerland.
"As Everest Medicines continues to evolve our business strategy and expand our novel product pipeline at a rapid pace, we are thrilled to have Rogers join the Company to lead Everest through its next phase of growth in becoming a fully-integrated biopharma company in China. With his robust background as a top executive at both biotech startup and large multinational pharma companies, Rogers brings to Everest a unique set of expertise including comprehensive scientific insight, proven outstanding leadership and excellent commercialization capabilities in patient access, and a demonstrated history of successfully advancing early- and late-stage innovative pipeline to commercial launch in Greater China. In particular, Rogers' leadership will strengthen Everest's new product development and commercial capabilities as we progress toward potential approvals of our late-stage anchor product candidates, including Nefecon, Xerava, etrasimod and mRNA vaccines. We look forward to leveraging Rogers' leadership and industry expertise to generate long-term growth and success across the business."
Mr. Wei Fu, Chairman of Everest Medicines and Chief Executive Officer of CBC Group
"I'm very excited to join Everest and I look forward to working with this talented, world-class team of scientists and industry professionals to further the Company's industry leadership. We will continue to advance our late-stage pipeline towards commercialization and with our strong balance sheet, we aim to execute synergistic business development deals to accelerate our path to become an integrated biopharma," said Rogers Yongqing Luo, Chief Executive Officer of Everest Medicines. "We will continue to invest into our discovery platform to build an innovative therapeutic pipeline for the benefit of patients with unmet needs in Greater China and other Asia Pacific markets, and to create sustained, long-term value for our shareholders."
About Everest Medicines
Everest Medicines is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing transformative pharmaceutical products that address critical unmet medical needs for patients in Asian markets. The management team of Everest Medicines has deep expertise and an extensive track record of high-quality clinical development, regulatory affairs, CMC, business development and operations both in China and with leading global pharmaceutical companies. Everest Medicines has built a portfolio of potentially global first-in-class or best-in-class molecules, many of which are in late-stage clinical development. The Company's therapeutic areas of interest include oncology, autoimmune disorders, cardio-renal diseases and infectious diseases.