Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

MAY1 2015

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) is the world's most widely read biotech publication. It provides the R&D community with critical information on the tools, technologies, and trends that drive the biotech industry.

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12 | MAY 1, 2015 | | Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News Deciphering Immune Cell Chatter No wonder the feld of cell signaling continues to grow and expand, as does its vocabulary. Infamma- some, signalosome, supramolecular organizing cen- ters, and other immune system signaling terms are working their way into everyday signaling language. The latest cell signaling advances will be discussed June 7–12 at a meeting organized by the Federa- tion of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). The meeting, "Signal Transduction in the Immune System," will take place in Big Sky, MT. It will cover topics such as lymphocyte activation and development, imaging of cell activation and differen- tiation, immune defciencies, cytoskeletal changes that regulate leukocyte activation and migration, and in- nate lymphoid cells. Innate lymphoid cells include natural killer (NK) cells, which play key roles in innate immunity by fending off viruses and eliminating cancer cells. As the FASEB meeting's participants will make clear, NK cells also infuence the antigen-specifc immune responses of other important members of the community, such as dendritic and T cells. NK cells are controlled by both activating and in- hibitory receptors. When activating signals predomi- nate, NK cells kill target cells primarily through natu- ral cytotoxic responses. They also secrete into the lo- cal environment cytokines such as interferon gamma (IFNγ), which then serve to further amplify the im- mune responses of other cells. André Veillette, M.D., professor, division of ex- > Astellas, MD Anderson Partner to Develop AML Treatment Astellas Pharma and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center are partnering to research and develop a new treatment for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The collaboration will focus on h8F4, a humanized monoclo- nal antibody invented by Jefrey Molldrem, M.D., a professor of stem cell transplantation and cellular therapy at MD An- derson. The antibody targets an HLA-restricted peptide called PR1/HLA-A2, which is expressed in cancer cells and cancer stem cells. Although monoclonal antibodies are very com- mon in oncology, they have until now proven difcult for re- searchers to generate against HLA-restricted peptides. Dr. Molldrem will lead h8F4 research eforts with Carlo To- niatti, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of MD Anderson's Oncol- ogy Research for Biologics and Immunotherapy Translation (ORBIT) platform. Under an option agreement signed by the partners, Astellas has been granted an option to frst negoti- ate an exclusive, worldwide license at the end of Phase Ib, with MD Anderson conducting both Phase Ia and Phase Ib studies. The agreement also includes up to $26 million as an option premium and R&D funding. > Sanof, Schrödinger Form Computational Partnership Schrödinger said it will provide computational resources to Sanof for up to 10 drug discovery programs, under a $120 million, multiyear collaboration launched by the companies. The provider of enterprise software solutions and services for life sciences and materials research—including advanced mo- lecular simulations—said it will deliver to the pharma giant computational drug design support, from target analysis and validation to lead identifcation and lead optimization. Specifcally, Schrödinger promised that it will apply com- puter-aided design toward determining the structures of proteins and ligands, as well as predicting potency of new drugs "at a level that is unprecedented in the pharmaceuti- cal industry." Schrödinger added that it plans to deploy a new enterprise informatics system to facilitate real-time collabora- tion between computational designers and medicinal chem- ists. The system will serve as the communications and project management platform for researchers across both companies. > CSHL, North Shore-LIJ Launch $120M+ Cancer Collaboration Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) said it will partner with North Shore-LIJ, a health system that serves the New York metropolitan area, through a more-than-$120 million clinical research collaboration designed to speed up cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment. The research institution plans to advance cancer therapeutics research; recruit and train more clinician-scientists in oncology; and develop a new clinical cancer research unit at the North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute's headquarters in Lake Success, NY. The new research unit will support early-phase clinical studies of new cancer therapies. Under the collaboration, clinician-scientists will be trained to perform preclinical cancer research and conduct early- stage human clinical trials. Positive fndings in research and therapeutics will form the basis for advanced-phase clinical trials to be conducted both at North Shore-LIJ facilities and collaborating outside medical centers. > Panther Licenses Anticancer Compounds from Northwestern Panther Biotechnology has licensed from Northwestern University rights to develop and commercialize new com- pounds designed to enhance efcacy and decrease toxic side-efects of a new category of anticancer drugs. The new compounds, called Numonafdes, are derivatives of the anti- cancer drug Amonafde that are engineered to avoid acety- lation and eliminate a toxic metabolite. Numonafdes have demonstrated broad in vitro activity in blood, cervical, colon, gastric, liver, lung, and skin cancers. According to Panther, lab results suggest that the lead Numonafde compound has a broad spectrum of antitumor activities with minimal toxicity and minimal chances of devel- oping drug resistance. Panther added that in mouse xenograft models using various single dose and multiple dose regimens, Numonafde was as efective as Amonafde in inhibiting tumor growth, whereas Numonafde was tolerated by the animals at higher doses and showed greatly reduced toxicity. n News DISCOVERY & DEVELOPMENT A super-resolution fuorescence image of cortical actin in NK cells. The image, provided by Daniel M. Davis, Ph.D., of the University of Manchester, is color coded. Red indicates where the periodicity of the cortical actin mesh at the synapse increased the most in specifc domains when the NK cell was activated. Kathy Liszewski Overseeing immune surveillance. Driving cellular responses to changing environmental conditions. Maintaining homeostasis. These tasks are accomplished thanks to the complex network of intra- and intercel- lular communications.

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