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Multiple antibiotic resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium

A new way to in­fil­trate (and de­stroy) some of the dead­liest drug-re­sis­tant bugs

About four years ago, Ruben Tommasi, the gregarious scientific chief of antibiotics startup Entasis, walked into a meeting with his top chemist and top biologist to chew over another batch of unchanging results.

“It felt like we were running the same experiment over and over,” Tommasi told Endpoints News. “We had all sort of come to that point in time where we felt like we were banging our heads against the wall.”

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Carl Hansen, AbCellera CEO

Look­ing for the next mR­NA break­through, Mod­er­na taps Ab­Cellera in mys­te­ri­ous an­ti­body dis­cov­ery deal

Moderna’s success with its Covid-19 vaccine has busted the dam open on a range of potential mRNA therapeutics — and now the biotech is pushing to keep the cutting edge in-house. A new partnership with standout antibody discovery outfit AbCellera could help keep the ball in the competition’s court.

Moderna will partner with antibody player AbCellera on up to six undisclosed targets for a range of mRNA-encoded drugs harvested from AbCellera’s bustling discovery platform, the companies said Wednesday.

Dave Ricks, Eli Lilly

Eli Lil­ly bets on an RNA base edit­ing out­fit lever­ag­ing the body's own en­zymes to re­verse mu­ta­tions

With its controversial Alzheimer’s med donanemab nearly ready for FDA scrutiny, Eli Lilly has grown more emboldened in its efforts to become the top dog in neuroscience. A new partnership with a quiet RNA editing player focused around neuroscience could now add even more bite to Lilly’s bark.

Lilly will pay $50 million in upfront cash and equity and up to $1.25 billion in downstream milestones for access to five RNA editing candidates from Dutch biotech ProQR Therapeutics, which is using edited oligonucleotides to kick off an RNA base editing system initiated by the body’s own enzymes, the partners said Wednesday.

Omar Abudayyeh (R) and Jon Gootenberg

Two Feng Zhang lab alum­ni find a new CRISPR en­zyme that could take a Big Gulp out of RNA — and a raft of dev­as­tat­ing dis­eases

MIT buddy biologists Omar Abudayyeh and Jon Gootenberg were sitting in the Quebec Convention Center at the annual CRISPR conference in 2019 when, buried in a presentation on bacterial evolution, they heard a nugget that made them chase down the presenters the moment they walked off stage.

Abudayyeh and Gootenberg had worked together since they were graduate students at CRISPR pioneer Feng Zhang’s lab, where they discovered a new gene editing enzyme called Cas13. Unlike most previous Cas enzymes, Cas13 cut RNA instead of DNA. So the pair thought it might provide a potent tool for treating diseases, such as Huntington’s disease or muscular dystrophy, caused by mistyped RNA.

Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

Feng Zhang's lab de­vel­ops po­ten­tial break­through in RNA edit­ing de­liv­ery us­ing 'ul­tra­com­pact' ver­sions of Cas13

As one of the pioneers behind CRISPR, the Broad Institute’s Feng Zhang has fashioned himself into a gene editing Renaissance man in recent years with a finger in every pie. For RNA editing, one of his passion projects, Zhang has worked to crack a chronic delivery logjam — and his team has just made a big breakthrough there.

A team of researchers out of Zhang’s lab has built a pair of “ultracompact” RNA editing tools that can fit inside an adeno-associated virus (AAV) package, potentially creating a breakthrough in the delivery of those gene editing tools into human cells, according to an article published in Nature Biotechnology on Monday.

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Feng Zhang (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

Feng Zhang un­veils a new tech­nol­o­gy to po­ten­tial­ly de­liv­er mR­NA, gene ther­a­py, CRISPR and more

MIT star researcher and CRISPR pioneer Feng Zhang put a new paper out Thursday in Science detailing how a new technology could alter a field that’s already proven game-changing throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zhang and his team have developed a potential new delivery method for mRNA therapeutics, they reported in their paper, working out a way for human proteins to bind to their own mRNA and package themselves in a protective capsule. That approach differs from the technology used for delivering the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines or for therapies that rely on delivering genetic material into cells, such as gene therapy and CRISPR-Cas9  — all of which utilize lipid nanoparticles or viral vectors.

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Search­ing for ways to boost CAR-T re­sponse, Penn re­searchers find a ca­pa­ble wing­man in BET in­hibitors

A whole industry may have been born out of the spectacular success of CD19 CAR-T, pushing the envelope on next-generation constructs hitting new targets. But a group of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania reckons there’s still plenty of new things you can do with the OG cell therapy — with the help of a familiar class of drugs.

In doing so, they may have uncovered a way to get around T cell exhaustion, which has been a central challenge for the field.

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Demis Hassabis, DeepMind CEO (Qianlong/Imaginechina via AP Images)

Google's Deep­Mind opens its pro­tein data­base to sci­ence — po­ten­tial­ly crack­ing drug R&D wide open

Nearly a year ago, Google’s AI outfit DeepMind announced they had cracked one of the oldest problems in biology: predicting a protein’s structure from its sequence alone. Now they’ve turned that software on nearly every human protein and hundreds of thousands of additional proteins from organisms important to medical research, such as fruit flies, mice and malaria parasite.

The new database of roughly 350,000 protein sequences and structures represents a potentially monumental achievement for the life sciences, one that could hasten new biological insights and the development of new drugs. DeepMind said it will be free and accessible to all researchers and companies.

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Minkyung Baek (University of Washington)

'They have shown that this is not some im­pos­si­ble thing': Aca­d­e­m­ic lab copies Google’s big bi­o­log­i­cal break­through

When Demis Hassabis, CEO of Google’s AI outfit DeepMind, announced last year that they had cracked one of the toughest puzzles in biology — successfully predicting a protein’s shape from its amino acid sequence — Minkyung Baek watched with a curious mixture of dread and excitement.

“It felt like I just lost my job,” said Baek, a postdoc at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design.

Elizabeth Parrish (Matthias Arnold/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Con­tro­ver­sial an­ti-ag­ing sci­en­tist — backed by Har­vard's George Church — makes a fresh round of claims on life ex­ten­sion in new mouse study

Just weeks ago controversial anti-aging researcher Elizabeth Parrish attracted considerable attention for a tiny human gene therapy study she claimed was underway in Mexico, testing a new approach to age-related dementia. Now the biotech exec is back in the spotlight, with celebrated Harvard scientific advisor George Church by her side, posting a mouse study that stakes a claim to a remarkable extension of animals’ life spans using an “intranasal and injectable” gene therapy.

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