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Archive - Sep 19, 2017

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PureTech Health Exclusively Licenses Novel Milk-Derived Exosome Technology for Oral Administration of Biologics, Nucleic Acids, and Complex Small Molecules

On September 19, 2017, PureTech Health plc (“PureTech Health” or the “Company”, LSE: PRTC), an advanced, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, announced an exclusive licensing agreement with 3P Biotechnologies, Inc., via University of Louisville, for an exosome-based technology (Calix) for the oral administration of biologics, nucleic acids, and complex small molecules. The Calix technology is based on the pioneering research of Ramesh Gupta, PhD, Founder of 3P Biotechnologies, Agnes Brown Duggan Chair in Oncological Research at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, and Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at University of Louisville. This license, together with additional PureTech Health-generated intellectual property, establishes the company as a leader in the application of milk exosomes for the oral administration of therapeutic molecules. Exosomes, which can contain mixtures of lipids, proteins and nucleic acids, play a critical physiologic role in intercellular communication and the transport of macromolecules between cells and tissues. Mammalian-derived exosomes have attractive potential as vehicles for the administration of a variety of drug payloads, especially nucleic acids, because their natural composition will likely provide superior tolerability over the variety of synthetic polymers currently in use. Previously, exosomes had not been considered viable as vehicles for oral administration of drugs due to their lack of stability under the harsh physiologic conditions associated with transit through the stomach and small intestine. However, the milk-derived exosomes that form the basis for the Calix technology have evolved specifically to accomplish the task of oral transport of complex biological molecules.

Acoustic Microfluidic Device Can Gently and Rapidly Isolate Exosomes from Blood; Isolated Exosomes Can Be Analyzed for Molecular Signatures of Cancer and Other Diseases

Cells secrete nanoscale membraned packets called exosomes that can carry important messages from one part of the body to another. Scientists from MIT and other institutions have now devised a way to intercept these messages, which could be used to diagnose problems such as cancer or fetal abnormalities. Their new device uses a combination of microfluidics and sound waves to isolate these exosomes from blood. The researchers hope to incorporate this technology into a portable device that could analyze patient blood samples for rapid diagnosis, without involving the cumbersome and time-consuming ultracentrifugation method commonly used today. “These exosomes often contain specific molecules that are a signature of certain abnormalities. If you isolate them from blood, you can do biological analysis and see what they reveal,” says Dr. Ming Dao, a principal research scientist in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and a senior author of the study, which appears in PNAS the week of September 18, 2017. The paper’s senior authors also include Dr. Subra Suresh, President-Designate of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, MIT’s Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering Emeritus, and a former Dean of Engineering at MIT; Dr. Tony Jun Huang, a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University; and Dr. Yoel Sadovsky, Director of the Magee-Women’s Research Institutein Pittsburgh. The paper’s lead author is Duke graduate student Mengxi Wu. The article is titled “Isolation of Exosomes from Whole Blood by Integrating Acoustics and Microfluidics. In 2014, the same team of researchers first reported that they could separate cells by exposing them to sound waves as they flowed through a tiny channel.

Rutgers Researchers Shed Light on Role of Key Fat-Regulating Enzyme in Human Health; Findings May Hold Clues to Obesity, Diabetes, Cancer, And Other Diseases

had already been known that the enzyme known as phosphatidic acid phosphatase plays a crucial role in regulating the amount of fat in the human body. Controlling it is therefore of interest in the fight against obesity. But scientists at Rutgers University-New Brunswick have now found that getting rid of the enzyme entirely can increase the risk of cancer, inflammation, and other ills. Their findings were published online on July 3, 2017 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. "The goal of our lab is to understand how we can tweak and control this enzyme," said Dr. George M. Carman, Board of Governors Professor in the Department of Food Science in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. "For years, we have been trying to find out how to fine-tune the enzyme's activity so it's not too active, and creating too much fat, but it's active enough to keep the body healthy." The JBC article is titled “Yeast PAH1-Encoded Phosphatidate Phosphatase Controls The Expression of CHO1-Encoded Phosphatidylserine Synthase for Membrane Phospholipid Synthesis.” The enzyme was discovered in 1957 and Gil-Soo Han, Research Assistant Professor in the Rutgers Center for Lipid Research, discovered the gene encoding the enzyme in 2006. The enzyme determines whether the body's phosphatidic acid will be used to create storage fat, or to create the lipids in cell membranes. The current study used baker's yeast as a model organism, becausee it also contains the key enzyme. Dr. Han, study lead author, deleted a gene in yeast to eliminate the enzyme. That led to accumulations of phosphatidic acid, with cells making far more membrane lipids than necessary, said Dr. Carman, who founded the center in Rutgers' New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health a decade ago.