Synthetic biology news in brief-w/c 20th Jan

synthetic biology news updates

Date: 27th January 2020


Cow free-milk manufacturer secures VC-funding

TurtleTree Labs, the world’s first company using technology to create real milk from mammalian cell culture, without the need for animals.  Based in Singapore, the company have announced they have secured pre-seed funding by a venture capital fund, led by Lever VC.

The tech used here has been hailed as a serious disruptor in the global dairy industry and will provide millions access to safer, reliable and higher quality dairy products.  Currently both cow and human milk can be produced.



Companies join forces to address urgently needed quality control of CRISPR genome-editing

COBO Technologies and Cardea Bio partner to bring solutions to challenges with the precision of Genome editing. The companies have agreed to co-develop and market a portfolio of CRISPR QC products and services for quality control (QC) of CRISPR research, agricultural, and pre-clinical programs.

With the explosion of CRISPR application currently emerging there is a rapidly increasing need for quality control in genome-edited cells.

Now COBO, based in Denmark, will leverage their speciality in quality control of CRISPR-modified cells, with Cardea’s CRISPR-Chip – based on their innovative biology-gated transistors™.  The new QC tool aims to achieve sensitive and fast quality control of CRISPR experiment subparts (e.g. gRNAs, Cas systems and versions, on-and-off target activity) and the resulting genome modified cells.


Acquisition of Cobra Biologics by Cognate BioServices in an effort to accelerate gene therapy products to market.

Cognate BioServices is a leading contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) focused on cell and cell-mediated gene therapy products.  They announced the acquisition of Cobra Biologics, a leading CDMO specialized in providing development and manufacturing services for plasmid DNA and viral vector.

Cobra, based in Newcastle, UK, and Cognate, based in Memphis, US, will focus on patients with unmet medical needs and will combine Cobra’s expertise in plasmid DNA, viral vectors, protein and microbiota with Cognate’s position in the market as an industry-leading service provider.  The focus being on mid to late stage clinical trials and providing rapid access to advanced manufacturing capabilities creating scalable manufacturing solutions and bring products to commercialisation.


Targovax announces encouraging data in mesothelioma study combining ONCOS-102 and standard of care chemotherapy

Targovax ASA, Oslo, Norway, is a clinical stage immuno-oncology company developing oncolytic viruses to target hard-to-treat solid tumours.  They have announced the successful first set of data from clinical trials of ONCOS-102, an experimental adenovírus-based cancer therapy, in combination with standard of care chemotherapy in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).  

By engineering ONCOS-102 to replicate inside cancer cells only, the aim is that healthy cells will not be targeted during treatment. In addition, by inserting into the viral genome a gene coding for GM-CSF (granulocyte-macrophage-colony-stimulating factor), an immune-stimulating protein that will be synthesised during the replication of the virus inside the tumour cells, the treatment utilises the patient’s immune response to target the cancer cells.

The Phase 1/2 study (NCT02879669) is currently evaluating the safety, immune activation, and clinical response of ONCOS-102 in combination with ‘traditional’ chemo in around 30 patients.  The results indicate that the combination therapy was well tolerated, and the first set of immunological analyses showed robust immune activation following ONCOS-102 treatment.,c3014071


Ncardia and BlueRock Therapeutics collaborate to advance potential cell therapies for cardiac diseases.

Ncardia and BlueRock Therapeutics have announced an agreement covering process development technologies for the manufacture of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes. 

Ncardia, based in Gosselies, Belgium, aim to enhance the use of human biology in drug discovery and cell therapy pre-clinical research with human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived solutions.  The collaboration with BlueRock, based in Cambridge, US, aims to leverage synergies across company missions and capabilities.

With hundreds of millions of people worldwide suffering from degenerative cardiovascular disease due to loss of healthy cells, the aim is to use BlueRock’s authentic cellular therapy in a novel approach to replacing these cells.

It is hoped the collaboration has potential to transform and improve the lives of millions of patients, who currently have limited medical options.



The WHO accelerates diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics for novel coronavirus.

Last week we saw an ever-increasing risk posed by the novel coronavirus, (novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV) from Wuhan, China, which was isolated on 7 January 2020.  With over 800 people infected so far the WHO, governments and laboratories around the world have been coordinating the search to contain, diagnose and treat this potential worldwide threat.

A meeting of the Emergency Committee convened to give advice to the Director-General, who makes the final decision on the determination of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).  The current advice was that the event did not constitute a PHEIC, but technical and operational support will continue to respond to this outbreak.

The WHO is working with their networks of researchers and other experts to coordinate global work on surveillance, epidemiology, modelling, diagnostics, clinical care and treatment, and other ways to identify, manage the disease and limit onward transmission.  Mentioned in the press release was a number of companies which hold strong positions in the market to accelerate a range of next generation viral solutions, from nano-medicines and vaccines to medical device which quickly eliminate viral pathogens from the circulatory system, including  NanoViricides, Inc. Novavax, Inc., BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Aethlon Medical, Inc., Neurotrope, Inc.