Parker Institute, MD Anderson and Seres developing a microbiome/PD-1/L1 combo; CRISPR-Cas antimicrobial biotech Locus raises $17M
→ Just days ago, MD Anderson researcher Jennifer Wargo and colleagues published new research that showed how the gut microbiome played a big role in determining whether or not a checkpoint therapy could help save your life. This morning, MD Anderson and the scientific network aficionados at the Parker Institute have put a deal together to collaborate with leading micriobiome biotech Seres on a pill. Seres’ $MCRB bacteria pill is the preclinical SER-401. And the biotech landed a deal for MD Anderson’s IP. The Parker Institute will sponsor a clinical trial to see if it works.
→ Research Triangle Park, NC-based Locus Biosciences has rounded up a $17 million A round to start moving its antimicrobials into the clinic. The biotech is using CRISPR-Cas tech to create a new approach to counterattacking against drug-resistant superbugs. ARTIS Ventures led the round, with additional financing from Tencent Holdings Limited, Abstract Ventures, and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.
→ The FDA has approved a pill for schizophrenia that includes a digital sensor that records that the patient has taken the medication, dispatching the information via a patch worn on the skin. The product is Otsuka Pharmaceutical’s Abilify MyCite. The tech is there for an obvious reason, with applications in mental health for ensuring compliance with dosing. By all accounts, these new digital products will become a routine feature in medicine.
→ In an agreement that involved forming a new subsidiary, Itus Corporation has secured an exclusive worldwide license to The Wistar Institute’s CAR-T technology aimed at treating solid tumors — ovarian cancer being its first target. Certainty Therapeutics is the name of the new company majority owned by the biotech $ITUS, a sister to Itus’ cancer detection subsidiary Anixa Diagnostics. While CAR-T has seen exciting results in B-cell cancers, little progress on solid tumors has been made, CEO Amit Kumar said in a statement, and Itus is “excited to be at the forefront of using CAR-T technology against solid tumors,” including prostate, pancreatic and other cancers.