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The week in industry: 10 September 2018

Read our round-up of some of the breaking news from the pharmaceutical industry over the past week. This week: Chinese researchers discover a promising antibiotic and Diamond Light Source partners with Thermo Fisher Scientific for Cryo-EM.

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Sep 13, 2018
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This week's industry news: 

Boehringer Ingelheim to acquire ViraTherapeutics
New collaboration sets UK above the rest in providing large-scale industrial access to Cryo-EM
Gilead and Precision announce gene-editing partnership
Promising antibiotic candidate discovered

Boehringer Ingelheim to acquire ViraTherapeutics

Boehringer Ingelheim (Ingelheim am Rhein, Germany) is set to acquire all shares of ViraTherapeutics (Innsbruck, Austria), who specialize in the development of a new class of immunotherapy drugs based on oncolytic viruses. ViraTherapeutics will operate in Innsbruck, Austria, as a distinct until of Boehringer’s Discovery Research organization, and will continue with the investigation into its lead candidate, VSV-GP.

“We are highly optimistic that our VSV-based development programs and technology will complement Boehringer Ingelheim’s immuno-oncology franchise and will serve as a source of innovative, new treatment options for patients living with cancer,” commented Chief Executive of VeraTherapeutics, Heinz Schwer.

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New collaboration sets UK above the rest in providing large-scale industrial access to Cryo-EM

Diamond Light Source (Oxford, UK) and Thermo Fisher Scientific (MA, USA) have partnered to launch a new cryo-electron microscopy capability for use by the pharmaceutical industry. The agreement, which was announced at the official opening of the Electron Bio-Imaging Centre at Diamond, confirms the site as one of the leading Cryo-EM facilities, which also offers unique access to complementary synchrotron-based techniques not available anywhere else in the world.

“The technique also opens up high resolution studies of macromolecules in their cellular context through the use of electron cryotomography. Coupling these techniques with the capabilities at Diamond creates a unique environment that will help keep the UK at the forefront of world-leading science,” remarked Richard Henderson, joint recipient of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, who opened the new center.

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Gilead and Precision announce gene-editing partnership

Gilead (CA, USA) and Precision BioSciences (NC, USA) have announced plans to collaborate on the development of gene-editing treatments against hepatitis B. The research, which will be fully funded by Gilead, will utilize Precision’s gene-editing platform ARCUS to generate nucleases that will hinder viral replication.

“We are excited about the potential of genome editing and Precision’s ARCUS technology, which has demonstrated promising in vitro activity. We look forward to exploring this technology as an important component of our HBV cure research efforts,” remarked John McHutchison, CSO and Head of R&D at Gilead.

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Promising antibiotic candidate discovered

A team of researchers from the Chongqing Key Laboratory of Natural Product Synthesis and Drug Research (Chongqing, China) have identified a fungal compound that could be a promising antibiotic, suggest results published recently in Nature Communication. The scientists have synthesized albomycins, which are known to have antimicrobial properties, and found them to outperform several established antibiotics when tested against a variety of bacterial strains.

"The method we use can efficiently and conveniently synthesize albomycins substances, and initial animal lab test has demonstrated that these substances are safe, but we will continue our research on its safety," commented lead author Yun He.

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Lin Z, Xu X, Zhao S et al. Total synthesis and antimicrobial evaluation of natural albomycins against clinical pathogens. Nat. Comms. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-05821-1 (2018)

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