DNDi and Atomwise Collaborate to Advance Drug Development Using AI for Neglected Diseases

Atomwise, Inc. | April 16, 2019

A biotech company using artificial intelligence (AI) for drug discovery, and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DND i ), a not-for-profit research and development organization working to deliver new treatments for neglected diseases, today announced that promising drug-like compounds have been discovered in a program to develop first-in-class treatments for Chagas disease. The research collaboration is part of Atomwise’s Artificial Intelligence Molecular Screen (AIMS) Awards program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 6-7 million people in the world have Chagas disease. Approximately 30% of those with Chagas disease develop life-threatening cardiac, digestive, or neurological disorders. DND i scientists selected three verified but challenging therapeutic protein targets that would inhibit the action of the parasite that causes Chagas disease. For each disease protein, Atomwise screened millions of compounds using its AI-powered screening technology to predict those that bind and potentially inhibit protein function. This research has delivered drug-like compounds that will now go on to further optimization and then potential drug development. Through the AIMS program, which supports hundreds of researchers at non-profit institutions and universities worldwide, Atomwise provided compounds at no cost to be tested by DND i researchers. “Our partnership with Atomwise has allowed us access to state-of-the-art technology that is more efficient and cost-effective than standard methods,” said Benjamin Perry, Ph.D., Senior Discovery Manager and Research Scientist at DND i. “Ultimately, the next step for this partnership will be to further develop the compounds in active discovery projects and help fill the pipeline of potential treatments for patients with Chagas disease. This win-win collaboration is showing the potential of new technology for neglected disease drug discovery.”

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Novo Nordisk & ATLATL announce winners in their joint program EntreStar

Novo Nordisk & ATLATL | December 06, 2022

Novo Nordisk Research Centre China and ATLATL jointly announce the winners of EntreStar program. Hangzhou DNano MetaBio and Modit Medicine stood out among all participants and won the awards. The two winners will be given priority access to one of ATLATL’s nation-wide facilities in China, and a prize of CNY 500K RMB each to pay for the ATLATL facilities and services. They are also entitled to mentoring by relevant experts of Novo Nordisk. There will be no strings attached for the two companies. Founded in 2022, Hangzhou DNano MetaBio Technology has been focusing on the design of nucleic acid nanocarriers with customized functions and great potential in clinical translation. The team has rich experience in nucleic acid structure design, which enables them to accurately regulate the organ-targeting ability and the on-demand drug release performance of the nanocarriers. “It’s our great honour to participate in EntreStar. We look forward to exploring collaboration opportunities with the community. Meanwhile, it is very much appreciated that we can receive guidance and help from Novo Nordisk’s experts in relevant fields, so that our company can develop in a healthy way.” Dr. Baoquan DING, President & Chief Scientist of DNano expressed his hopes in the award ceremony, Modit Medicine Inc., founded in 2022, is a biotech company focusing on RNA editing and therapeutics. The company owns cutting-edge and propriety RNA modification and editing methodologies and is devoted to the development of novel platform technologies. Instead of manipulating DNA sequences, technologies of Modit Medicine Inc. correct genetic errors at the RNA level, thereby providing opportunities for safe, efficacious and innovative therapeutics to treat human rare diseases, cancers, etc. Dr. Chengqi YI, Founder of Modit Medicine and Boya Professor of Peking University, commented on his participation, “By participating in the EntreStar program, Modit Medicine Inc. hopes to learn from global pharma about their insights on technology platform and marketing strategies in gene therapy, as well as to seek and form potential collaborations with Novo Nordisk. We also appreciate advice and suggestions from ATLATL about useful tips for start-up companies to connect with government and industry.” Dr. Dan HAN, President of NNRCC, shared her remarks: “We see great potential in the novel concepts proposed by DNano and Modit. By leveraging knowledge and experiences in our global organisation, we hope that Novo Nordisk can help pushing their research projects forward more effectively. As a Novo Nordisk affiliate in China, we partner with brilliant minds via INNOVO® program to facilitate translational research, with EntreStar initiative as its latest addition.” Dr. Pengcheng ZHU, Founder of ATLATL Innovation Center, commented on the role ATLATL plays: “It is my greatest pleasure to help make the EntreStar winners thrive at ATLATL’s platform, with access to global resources, such as our partners like Novo Nordisk. The ATLATL Innovation Center is a world-class scientific hub for the life sciences. We streamline the elements of R&D to improve resource utilization, and revolutionize the traditional asset-heavy investment model into an asset-light operation model. I am looking forward to collaborating with even more leading biopharmaceuticals and bringing success to these talented people.” About Novo Nordisk Novo Nordisk is a leading global healthcare company, founded in 1923 and headquartered in Denmark. Our purpose is to drive change to defeat diabetes and other serious chronic diseases. We do so by pioneering scientific breakthroughs, expanding access to our medicines, and working to prevent and ultimately cure disease. Novo Nordisk employs about 49,300 people in 80 countries and markets its products in around 170 countries. Novo Nordisk Research Centre China founded in 1997, takes pride in being the first research centre established by a multinational pharmaceutical company in China. With a focus on protein and peptide therapeutics, NNRCC has full capabilities and rich experiences in drug discovery research. About ATLATL The ATLATL Innovation Center is a world-class scientific hub for global life sciences. ATLATL streamlines the elements of R&D to improve resource utilization and revolutionizes the traditional asset-heavy investment model into an asset-light operation model. This much more time and cost-efficient model originated in Boston and continues to be optimized from 2017 onwards in China. ATLATL provides not only state-of-the-art facilities and professional operational management but also many R&D platforms staffed with scientists and project managers specializing in various fields. By collaborating with leading biopharma ATLATL integrates global resources to stimulate innovative developments. ATLATL currently has R&D platforms in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, etc., leveraging the uniqueness of each site to help innovators quickly reach the next milestone.

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FogPharma Announces $178 Million Series D Financing to Advance Pipeline of First-in-Class Helicon Polypeptide Therapeutics

FogPharma | November 28, 2022

FogPharma®, a biopharmaceutical company pioneering a new class of precision medicines that could ultimately prove applicable to the vast majority of therapeutic targets, including those previously considered “undruggable,” announced a $178 Million Series D financing. The financing round includes new investors ARCH Venture Partners, Milky Way Investments and Fidelity Management & Research Company and existing investors VenBio Partners, Deerfield Management, GV, Cormorant Asset Management, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Invus, Farallon Capital Management, HBM Healthcare Investments, Casdin Capital, and PagsGroup, also participated. Proceeds from the Series D financing will be used to advance and accelerate FogPharma’s growing pipeline of hyperstabilized α-helical (Helicon™) polypeptide therapeutics, a proprietary new class of drugs designed to overcome the limitations of today’s precision medicines with broad applicability to the vast majority of disease targets and therapeutic areas. FogPharma’s lead Helicon polypeptide development candidate, FOG-001, a first-and-only-in-class direct TCF-blocking β-catenin inhibitor with potential applicability to significant cancer patient populations, is expected to enter clinical development in mid-2023. In addition, FogPharma is advancing other first-in-class programs against important, biologically validated cancer targets that have remained elusive to other approaches including TEAD, NRAS, Pan-KRAS, ERG and Cyclin E1. “FogPharma continues to make rapid progress on our moonshot mission to achieve universal druggability – a world where no targets are off-limits to medicine. We believe that Helicon polypeptides, a compelling new therapeutic modality, represent the future of precision medicine. We are thrilled by the support of our investors and will continue to build our platform capabilities, product pipeline which aims to address a significant percentage of cancer patient populations, and our phenomenal team across all levels as we aim to create one of the most impactful new classes of drugs in history.” Gregory Verdine, Ph.D., founder, chairman and chief executive officer of FogPharma In connection with the Series D Financing, Rick Klausner, M.D., has been appointed to FogPharma’s board of directors. In addition, Dr. Verdine has been appointed as chairman of the board. “The team at FogPharma is building an unprecedented new therapeutic modality and robust pipeline with the potential to make a meaningful difference in the lives of cancer patients,” said Dr. Klausner. “I am excited to join the board of directors and be part of something special particularly at this important time as FogPharma continues to impressively scale its science, team, operations and infrastructure, with the goal of advancing its first Helicon polypeptide therapeutic into the clinic.” Dr. Klausner is currently the founder and chief scientist of Altos Labs and founder and chairman of Lyell Immunopharma. Dr. Klausner was founder and director of Juno Therapeutics and founder and director of GRAIL. He is also the chairman of Sonoma Biotherapeutics and co-founder and chairman of Lifemine Therapeutics. Previously, Dr. Klausner served as senior vice president, chief medical officer and chief opportunity officer of Illumina Corporation and as executive director for global health for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Klausner was appointed by Presidents Clinton and Bush as the eleventh director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute between 1995 and 2001. Dr. Klausner served as chief of the Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development as well as a past president of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. He has served in senior advisory roles to the U.S., Norwegian, Qatari and Indian governments. About FogPharma’s Universal Druggability Platform and Helicon™ Polypeptide Therapeutics Existing drug classes are limited in both reach and applicability, with more than 80% of known human protein disease targets considered “undruggable” because they are beyond the reach of both antibodies and small molecules. FogPharma’s Helicon peptide drug discovery engine integrates directed evolution, proprietary α-helix conformational hyperstabilization chemistry, highly multiplexed drug optimization technology, artificial intelligence including deep learning and machine learning, structure-based drug discovery, cancer genomics and biology, and multiscale manufacturing to rapidly discover Helicon polypeptide therapeutics. This novel therapeutic modality combines the targeting strength and specificity of antibodies with the broad tissue distribution, intracellular target engagement and oral dosing optionality of small molecules to address the limitations of today’s precision medicines and reach the most difficult targets – achieving universal druggability. About FOG-001 FogPharma’s lead Helicon polypeptide development candidate, FOG-001, a first-and-only-in-class direct TCF-blocking β-catenin inhibitor. Dysregulation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway has been shown to occur in at least 20% of all human cancers. In the U.S. alone, FOG-001 has the potential to become a new treatment option for >1 million patients suffering from a broad range of intractable cancers. In biochemical and cellular studies, FOG-001 has been shown to potently, precisely and selectively disrupt the interaction of β-catenin with its obligate downstream transcription factor, TCF. Preclinical studies have demonstrated the ability of FOG-001 to cause tumor growth inhibition and regression by disrupting β-catenin-dependent signaling. FOG-001 is the inaugural member of FogPharma’s TCF-Catenix family of direct-acting β-catenin antagonists and combines key features that distinguish it from previously reported Wnt/β-catenin pathway modulators: FOG-001 acts inside the cell, where it directly binds the key oncogenic driver β-catenin; and FOG-001 blocks TCF-β-catenin engagement at the most downstream node in the canonical Wnt pathway, thus abrogating the signal transmission mechanism by which most, if not all, known Wnt pathway mutations are believed to drive oncogenesis. About FogPharma FogPharma is a biopharmaceutical company pioneering the discovery and development of Helicon™ polypeptides. Through this novel therapeutic modality, FogPharma aims to address the limitations of existing drug classes and achieve universal druggability – a world where no targets are off-limits to new medicines. Spun out of Harvard University by pioneering academic scientist and successful biotech company builder Dr. Gregory Verdine, FogPharma is advancing a broad pipeline of Helicon polypeptide therapeutics against important and biologically validated cancer targets that have remained elusive to other approaches, with the goal of providing new targeted treatment options for significant cancer patient populations. FogPharma is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and has raised more than $360 million to date from leading life sciences investors.

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PHARMACY MARKET, PHARMA TECH

MTTI Obtains FDA Allowance of Investigational New Drug (IND) for Hürthle Cell Thyroid Cancer

Molecular Targeting Technologies, Inc | December 09, 2022

Molecular Targeting Technologies, Inc. a clinical stage radiopharmaceutical therapy company focused on therapies for rare diseases, announced today the allowance of an Investigational New Drug application by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is now waiting for Institutional Review Board approval. Once approved by IRB, it will enable a Phase I/II clinical study of the Safety, Dosimetry and Efficacy of EBTATE in adult patients with metastatic, radioactive iodine non-responsive Hürthle cell thyroid cancer.” EBTATE is a new generation of peptide receptor radiotherapeutic drug that has demonstrated potential clinical superiority over standard of care. It selectively binds to somatostatin receptor 2 on neuroendocrine and other tumors, which are then killed by the radionuclide. EvaThera platform products were designed to bind to serum albumin, due to the Evans blue moiety, extending in vivo residence time, enabling lower, less frequent dosing of the radiopharmaceutical and reducing risk of renal injury vs. the current standard of care. Dr. Joanna Klubo-Gwiezdzinska, MD, Ph.D, MHSc, acting section chief of Thyroid Tumors and Functional Thyroid Disorders in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and study author commented: “Hürthle cell thyroid cancer, which currently lacks effective treatment options, is characterized by a particularly high expression of SSTR2*. With this phase I/II clinical trial, we hope to implement individualized dosimetry-based dosing for each patient with Hürthle cell thyroid cancer that spread outside of the thyroid gland and analyze how much of an active agent is being accumulated in the tumor tissue to establish a threshold associated with the best efficacy and safety.” “The clearance of our IND is an important milestone for MTTI. Having solidified our clinical trial preparedness and manufacturing readiness, we are well-positioned to advance EBTATE to target Hürthle cell thyroid cancer.” Dr. Chris Pak, President & CEO of MTTI About Molecular Targeting Technologies, Inc. (MTTI) Molecular Targeting Technologies, Inc., is a privately held, rapidly growing, well financed, clinical-stage biotech company developing next-generation targeted radiotherapeutics and diagnostics for rare cancers. Evathera platform technology product has shown application for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cancer patients overexpressing integrin. MTTI is committed to building value by acquiring and translating innovative imaging, radiopharmaceutical and theranostics assets to improve human health, reduce healthcare costs and reward stakeholders. MTTI expects to be orchestrating multiple clinical trials in 2023. The content in this release is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views or imply endorsement of the National Institutes of Health.

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insitro Appoints Philip Tagari, Industry-Leading Scientist and Drug Hunter, as Chief Scientific Officer

insitro | December 02, 2022

insitro, a machine learning-powered drug discovery and development company announced that Philip Tagari has been appointed as chief scientific officer. Tagari joins insitro following a 24-year career at Amgen, where he has led the organization's research platforms for over a decade as vice president, research - therapeutic discovery. “I am deeply excited to partner with Philip on insitro’s journey to build a transformative biology platform for the efficient discovery and development of effective medicines for patients in need. Philip brings unparalleled experience in drug development, including building and utilizing cutting-edge platforms, profound scientific expertise across therapeutic areas and modalities, and most importantly, the humility and courage to transcend the drug discovery status quo and do things differently.” Daphne Koller, Ph.D., founder and CEO of insitro Tagari joins a cross-functional team of experts in biology and technology at insitro, part of a uniquely collaborative culture that spans the boundaries of both fields. “Philip’s inspiring track record of fusing science and technology to build innovative platforms and leading therapeutic programs from bench to approval will guide us in the next step of insitro’s journey, as we deploy our expertise to identify exciting new targets and design therapeutic molecules,” said Koller. “insitro is completely redefining our understanding of disease biology and developing novel therapeutic strategies for a variety of grievous illnesses. Using machine learning on genetics and multi-modal phenotypic data at scale from human cohorts and cellular systems, their cutting edge laboratories are rapidly generating differentiated approaches to currently intractable unmet needs,” Tagari said. “I’m thrilled to partner with Daphne and insitro’s world-class scientists and technologists in achieving a patient-driven vision brought to life in a different kind of drug company.” Tagari joins insitro in early 2023 from Amgen, where he has held a variety of roles since 1998, and served as vice president, research - therapeutic discovery, since 2012. During his time at Amgen, Tagari built and led a global organization of over 600 scientists that delivered numerous experimental and marketed therapies in neurology, inflammation, cardiovascular disease and oncology. Throughout his career, which includes a decade at Merck and research positions at McGill University and Oxford University, Tagari made significant contributions toward multiple first-in-class, disease-modifying, life-changing therapies including Lumakras, Repatha, Singulair, Aimovig, Evenity, Tarlatamab, Acapatamab, Efavaleukin alfa, and AMG 133. With more than 30 years of research experience, he brings expertise across neurobiology, metabolic disease, hematology/oncology, immunology and inflammation, cell and molecular biology, antibody discovery and biologics engineering, medicinal, peptide and oligonucleotide chemistry, analytical chemistry and biochemistry, structural biology, pharmacokinetics, safety pharmacology, laboratory automation and information technologies. Tagari has published or contributed to more than 70 peer-reviewed publications. “I had the privilege of working with Philip for more than 15 years, first at Merck, and thereafter at Amgen, and can say unequivocally that he ranks among the most accomplished, and most innovative, scientific leaders in the industry,” said Roger M. Perlmutter, M.D., Ph.D., currently president, chief executive officer, and chairman of Eikon Therapeutics, Inc., (formerly EVP R&D both at Amgen and at Merck), and is a member of insitro’s Board of Directors. “With Philip as chief scientific officer and partner to Daphne, insitro will be well positioned to ensure that insights from its machine learning-enabled discovery platform contribute to the development of important new medicines that will make a meaningful difference for patients.” About insitro insitro is a data-driven drug discovery and development company using machine learning and data at scale to transform the way that drugs are discovered and developed for patients. insitro is developing predictive machine learning models to discover underlying biologic states based on human cohort data and in-house generated cellular data at scale. These predictive models are being brought to bear on key bottlenecks in pharmaceutical R&D to advance novel targets and patient biomarkers, design therapeutics and inform clinical strategy. insitro is advancing a wholly owned and partnered pipeline of biologic insights and molecules in metabolism and neuroscience. Since formation in mid 2018, insitro has raised over $700 million from top tech, biotech, and crossover investors, and from collaborations with pharmaceutical partners.

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