Ichor Medical Systems Awarded DARPA Contract for Development of TriGrid Platform for Passive Immunization

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Ichor Medical Systems (Ichor) of San Diego announced today that they have received a contract through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and supported by the U.S. Army Research Office for up to $20.2 million of funding over five years, including a base period award of $8.6M and follow-on option years. The program will fund the development and clinical assessment of Ichor’s TriGrid™ electroporation system as a DNA-based antibody delivery platform to produce protective antibodies for passive immunoprophylaxis.

The award is part of a DARPA program called ADEPT: PROTECT (Autonomous Diagnostics to Enable Prevention and Therapeutics: Prophylactic Options to Environmental and Contagious Threats) aimed at developing new platform technologies that could be safely and rapidly deployed to the U.S. population and military personnel to provide immediate protection in the event of an infectious outbreak or biological weapons attack. While active immunization with traditional vaccines is effective at stimulating the immune system to generate protective antibodies, such responses are not immediate and may require multiple doses of the vaccine. In contrast, the TriGrid technology could be used to bypass the immune system to directly deliver DNA sequences encoding protective antibodies into an infected or exposed individual. This approach would result in rapid production of antibodies by the individual providing immediate protection against the pathogen.
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Novel Cancer Vaccine Approach for Brain Tumors

Glioblastoma is the most common aggressive primary brain tumor, and despite advances in standard treatment, the median survival is about 15 months (compared to 4 months without treatment). Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University have been working on a cancer vaccine that would extend that survival by activating the patient's immune system to fight the brain tumor. A study published online November 13th in the journal Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy drilled down to the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind the vaccine, paving the way for further development and refinement of this new experimental treatment.
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IDO Inhibitors May Augment Immunotherapy in NSCLC

Combination therapies with agents such as indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) inhibitors may have the potential to synergize with immunotherapeutic approaches to improve immune function against tumor cells. The concept of immunotherapy, or using the body’s immune system to selectively target tumor cells, is not new, but it has become a more viable and practical option in cancer treatment over the last decade.1-3 Using antibody-based inhibitors of key immunoregulatory checkpoints—such as cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4), programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1), and its ligand, PD-L1—durable responses have been observed in advanced, metastatic cancers for which no therapy had previously been available.
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Gene Therapy May Help in Controlling Addiction and Depression

A new study has revealed that regulation of a single, specific gene in a brain region can help control drug addiction and depression. The study conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai focused on epigenetics, the study of changes in the action of human genes caused, not by changes in DNA code we inherit from our parents, but instead by molecules that regulate when, where and to what degree our genetic material is activated. Using mouse models of human depression, stress and addiction, the current research team introduced synthetic- transcription factors into a brain region called the nucleus accumbens at a single gene called FosB, which has been linked by past studies to both addiction and depression.
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Moderna Therapeutics Partners with Karolinska Institutet

The world renowned Karolinska Institutet has partnered with the Cambridge based biotech Moderna Therapeutics to develop new messenger RNA therapeutics for a range of serious diseases. The partnership will see the establishment of a new company called Moderna Therapeutics Sweden, based in Stockholm. This venture is Moderna’s first expansion outside of the US. The partnership will focus on the discovery and development of innovative drugs using Moderna’s messenger RNA (mRNA) Therapeutics technology. mRNA Therapeutics enable the in vivo production of both intracellular proteins and secreted proteins. As a result, Moderna’s platform has the potential to speed the development and manufacture of treatments for many diseases that are currently untreatable with existing pharmaceutical approaches.
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New Way of Genome Editing Cures Hemophilia in Mice; May be Safer than Older Method

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have devised a new way to insert a working copy of a faulty gene into a patient’s genome. The approach differs from that of other hailed techniques because it doesn’t require the co-delivery of an enzyme called an endonuclease to clip the recipient’s DNA at specific locations. It also doesn’t rely on the co-insertion of genetic “on” switches called promoters to activate the new gene’s expression.

The Stanford discovery may offer an alternative to a genome-editing technique called CRISPR/Cas9 that relies on an ancient, protective response developed by bacteria to fight off viral attack. Every time a bacterium defeats a virus, it saves a tiny portion of the invader’s DNA in its own genome, like a genetic feather in its cap. (Accumulations of these viral regions are called clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic regions, or CRISPR.) When that virus comes around again, the cell uses the snippets of saved genetic material to identify and latch onto matching regions in the viral genome. Once attached, it cuts the viral genes at precise locations with a protein called Cas9.
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Disease Resistance In Mice, And Why People Survive Ebola

What determines whether someone will survive Ebola? Researchers can now offer answers to this question thanks to a new disease model in mice, developed by virologists Angela Rasmussen and Michael Katze of the University of Washington. Dr Rasmussen says it will help reveal the genetic factors the allow some people to endure Ebola’s pathological effects. “This will ultimately allow us to not only better understand what predisposes an individual with a particular genetic background to either susceptibility or resistance, it will also provide a genetically diverse yet reproducible model in which to test drugs and vaccines.”
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Genexine’s HPV Therapeutic Vaccine Achieved High Efficacy in Phase I Cervical Dysplasia Trial

Genexine, Inc, a Korean biopharmaceutical company, announced successful results from its phase I cervical dysplasia trial of GX-188E in women with biopsy-proven cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 3 (CIN3) associated with human papillomavirus (HPV). Treatment with GX-188E, Genexine’s latest HPV DNA immunotherapeutic vaccine, resulted in viral clearance in conjunction with complete lesion regression in seven of the nine treated patients with severe dysplasia or carcinoma in situ. In collaboration with Genexine, Dr. Tae-Jin Kim, at Cheil General Hospital in Seoul, Korea, led the clinical trial study, in which patients were administered with a series of three vaccine injections at weeks 0, 4, and 12. By week 36, cervical lesions were completely eradicated in seven responders, as determined by cytological, histological, and virological evaluations.
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Bristol Immunotherapy Shows Encouraging Survival in Lung Cancer Trial

Treatment of a common form of advanced lung cancer with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co's experimental immunotherapy nivolumab led to a one-year survival rate of 41 percent in a midstage clinical trial, according to data to be presented at a medical meeting, sending the drugmaker's shares up 8.8 percent. While the study, called CheckMate-063, did not compare nivolumab with another drug or placebo, the historical one-year survival rate for patients like those in the trial, whose squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) had progressed after treatment with two or more prior therapies, is between 5.5 percent and 18 percent, the company said on Thursday. Squamous cell cancer tends to be found in the middle of the lung.
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Recorded Webinar: ‘A Royalty-Free Way to Generate Functional Therapeutic Antibodies’ is Now Available!

A Royalty-Free Way to Generate Functional Therapeutic Antibodies: Recording of DNAvaccine.com October 21 Online Seminar, presented by Dr. John Thompson of Aldevron.
The online recording of John Thompson's presentation: ‘A Royalty-Free Way to Generate Functional Antibodies’ can be viewed in the webinar tab found on our homepage. To view this and other archived webinars simply click on the following link: http://www.dnavaccine.com/resources/
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