LAB ROUNDUP 5 July – groundbreaking research claims, Germany eyes South Africa market, Saudi players combine...
5 Jul 2023
Biotech company BiologIC Technologies, claims it has achieved a ground-breaking advance in biocomputing, backed by Innovate UK, impacting the development and production of affordable drugs and vaccines. It streamlined the analysis of biological samples through the use of 3D printed lab-on-a-chip platforms for faster and more cost-effective processes for applications ranging from drug testing to point-of-care diagnostics.
The Analysis for Innovators programme allowed BiologIC access to expertise and advanced equipment at the National Measurement Laboratory, to improve understanding of plastic materials' interactions with biological applications, potentially leading to faster time-to-market and more affordable pharmaceuticals.
Health and research technology company uMed has secured £9.8 million in its latest venture capital funding round to enhance participation in clinical trials. Delin Ventures, AlbionVC, Playfair Capital, and Silicon Valley's 11.2 Capital are among the backers. The firm cited a decline in industry clinical trials in the UK, with patient access dropping by 44% and the number of trials initiated decreasing by 41%. uMed addresses this issue by enabling healthcare providers in the UK, US, and Canada to easily engage in clinical research and improve patient care. The funding will expand uMed's Access-PD cohort programme in Parkinson's Disease and launch new cohorts for Cardio-Metabolic and Lung Diseases
Deputy Head of Mission of the German Embassy in South Africa, Enrico Brandt, said Africa presented “significant investment opportunities” and added that international organisations offered solutions to address key challenges. Brandt was speaking during the opening of the IFAT Africa trade show, focusing on water, sewage, refuse, and recycling, along with Analytica Lab Africa for laboratory technology and diagnostics sectors. Brandt emphasized the importance of a circular economy and investing in quality control processes for South African companies.
The ongoing OCTAVE study has provided updated data revealing world vaccine responses and infection outcomes in clinically at-risk patients with immunocompromised or immunosuppressed conditions. Initial findings highlighted a low immune response in these patients after two vaccine doses. New peer-reviewed data published in Nature Medicine present infection rates, disease severity, and deaths in the studied patient groups up to one year after initial vaccination. While overall infection rates were low, a sub-group experienced higher risks of severity and death, particularly during the Delta wave. Interestingly, the Omicron variant resulted in increased infection rates but fewer severe cases or fatalities.
New research led by scientists at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) has identified a human gene that plays a crucial role in protecting against avian flu. The study, published in Nature, highlights the importance of understanding the genetic makeup of avian flu strains to prevent widespread transmission to humans. The BTN3A3 gene, commonly expressed in our airways, was found to block most avian flu viruses from infecting humans. The research underscores the need for genetic surveillance and highlights the potential of BTN3A3 resistance as a key factor in determining flu strains with pandemic potential.
CENTOGENE and Lifera, a biopharma company owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) in Saudi Arabia, have announced a strategic collaboration. The partnership aims to establish a Saudi Arabian joint venture to enhance access to data-driven multiomic testing. Under the agreement, Lifera will invest $30 million, with potential joint venture milestones and revenue-based royalties totalling more than $50 million until 2033. CENTOGENE is already a key player in genetic testing within the region.
New research from the University of Glasgow reveals that artificially-intelligent moderators in virtual reality can play a crucial role in safeguarding children from online bullying and harassment. In collaboration with parents and their children, the study examined the effectiveness of ‘Big Buddy’, a prototype virtual moderator for social spaces. Big Buddy, resembling an adult-sized virtual character, assisted parents in staying informed about their children's experiences while punishing misbehaviour within the VR environment. The findings, to be presented at the ACM Interaction Design and Children conference, provide valuable insights for future AI-controlled moderators in the evolving landscape of virtual spaces like the Metaverse.
IBM and Oxford University have announced a breakthrough in antiviral research. IBM's molecular generative AI model, MoLFormer, has shown the ability to discover new antivirals, including for SARS-CoV-2, within months. The study, published in Science Advances, validated eleven antiviral molecules. The collaboration utilized generative AI's capability to design molecules that block viruses. This innovative approach could accelerate the development of lifesaving drugs in future crises. The findings demonstrate the potential of generative AI in drug discovery, particularly for addressing drug resistance and preparing for emerging viruses. The research team aims to leverage generative AI to expedite the search for new treatments in future viral outbreaks.