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Iksuda Therapeutics Enters License Agreement With University of Goettingen to Develop a New Generation of Antibody Drug Conjugates

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  • Iksuda licenses novel protein-alkylating, tumour-activated pro-drug payload series to develop ADCs with enhanced therapeutic index

  • Development to focus on targets associated with haematological and solid tumours

Iksuda Therapeutics (Iksuda), the developer of enhanced, new-generation of Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs), today announces it has executed its option to secure exclusive, worldwide rights to develop a novel class of tumour-activated prodrug payloads from the University of Goettingen, following a successful collaboration exemplifying the series in ADC formats. The highly potent and selective payload series represents a powerful new class within ADC development with novel protein alkylating cytotoxicity. Iksuda will drive onward development and commercialisation, incorporating the tuneable payload series in its ADC pipeline and payload armoury, to create best in class ADC therapeutics for nominated targets associated with haematological and solid tumours with high unmet need.

The partnership with the University of Goettingen was founded on Iksuda’s commitment to expand its payload armoury and optimise ADC design according to target antigen. The programme confirmed the value of tumour-selective activation of these powerful cytotoxic agents, conjugated with Iksuda’s stable conjugation technology (PermaLink®), in widening the therapeutic index of ADCs. The novel protein-alkylating mode-of-action of the payload series differs from the field’s primary focus of intra- or DNA inter-strand cross-linking, conferring benefits against drug resistance mechanisms. Through the combination of PermaLink technology and the protein alkylating prodrugs, the Company aims to enable the differentiated development of more powerful ADCs with improved tumour killing, aligned with improved safety index and an ability to overcome potential tumour resistance.

Iksuda has demonstrated the potential value of prodrug approaches for targeted cancer therapeutics through its recent license of a CD19-targeting ADC from LegoChem Biosciences (“LCB”) for hard-to-treat B-cell cancers, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and Burkitt lymphoma. The ADC contains LCB’s prodrug DNA-cross-linking payload, with preclinical

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NASA, DHS develop device for finding people under rubble

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Researchers performed a test of the Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) prototype technology — which can locate individuals buried in disasters — at the Virginia Task Force 1 Training Facility in Lorton, VA. The device uses radar technology developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to sense the heartbeats and breathing of humans hidden behind piles of rubble. (UPI/DHS/John Price)

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NEC OncoImmunity AS and Oslo University Hospital Team Up to Develop a Diagnostic for COVID-19 Using Artificial Intelligence

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NEC OncoImmunity AS (NOI), a subsidiary of NEC Corporation (NEC), and Oslo University Hospital (OUH) are pleased to announce that they have recently been awarded a prestigious grant from the Research Council of Norway (RCN) to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that will enable the rapid design of T-cell diagnostics for emerging or endemic infectious diseases. The project will develop a novel T-cell diagnostic for the current COVID-19 pandemic to complement the current serological tests. This will improve the ability to identify immune responses and acquired immunity, which is desperately needed to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

Current technologies involve extensive trial and error to define exactly which parts of the pathogen induces robust immunity. These so-called immunodominant epitopes need to be identified for the general population. These demanding, work-intensive and time-consuming steps are necessary to develop tests to monitor the T-cell response to viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 (the infectious virus that causes COVID-19).

Reliable diagnostic tests to identify immune individuals are critical to overcome the ever-looming threat of COVID-19. The AI-based diagnostic to be developed in this project will complement antibody tests and enable individuals who are naturally immune to the virus following infection with SARS-CoV-2 or other seasonal coronaviruses, or who have acquired immunity following vaccination, to be identified.

“Antibody tests are an important aspect of understanding the immune response to the SARS-CoV-2 infection and will remain a mainstay of its diagnosis. However, protective SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cell responses occur in antibody-negative infected individuals who have successfully resolved the infection. In addition, we may already have underlying immunity in the population due to cross reactivity to endemic seasonal human coronaviruses,” said Professor Ludvig A. Munthe Ph.D., Head of Research and Group Leader, Department of Immunology, Oslo University Hospital.

Although the technology to develop antibody diagnostics is readily

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ExoTerra to develop upper stage for Virgin Orbit LauncherOne

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SAN FRANCISCO – Colorado startup ExoTerra Resources announced a NASA Small Business Innovative Research contract Oct. 5 to develop a solar electric upper stage to boost small satellites traveling on Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne beyond low Earth orbit.

With ExoTerra’s Solar Electric Propulsion Upper Stage, LauncherOne customers could reach destinations including geostationary orbit, trans-lunar injection orbit, Earth-Moon Lagrange points and low lunar orbit, according to the ExoTerra news release.

“This win allows ExoTerra to begin development of an upper stage that will deliver up to 150 kilograms of payload to the moon,” according to the news release. The upper stage also could transport 180-kilogram payloads to geostationary orbit, the release added.

Virgin Orbit announced plans in 2019 to send small satellites to Mars in 2022 for Polish satellite manufacturer SatRevolution.

“That announcement definitely has attracted the interest of many others in the growing aerospace community,” a Virgin Orbit spokesman said by email.

Virgin Orbit sees “robust demand from customers” eager to travel on LauncherOne to destinations including highly elliptical orbit, geostationary orbit “and even to the moon, Mars, Venus and the asteroid belt,” the Virgin Orbit spokesman said. “Thanks to the ingenuity of the small satellite community, many groups have found ways to do really meaningful missions at each of those destinations using the amount of mass that we can confidently deliver using a stock LauncherOne complemented by a third stage.”

The new upper stage will be propelled by Halo XL, an ExoTerra Hall-effect thruster. The thruster draws on technology ExoTerra licensed from a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory program called Ascendant Sub-kW Transcelestial Electric Propulsion System or ASTRAEUS.

“This contract win is an important milestone for ExoTerra and aligns with our goal of developing high efficiency propulsion systems to support lunar and interplanetary missions,” Michael VanWoerkom, ExoTerra president and CEO, said

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DARPA Awards $14 Million To Develop A Nuclear Rocket Engine

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Gryphon Technologies $14 million to develop a nuclear thermal propulsion system for the U.S. military. Part of DARPA’s Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program, the High-Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU) Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) system will be used to enable the military to carry out missions in cislunar space, meaning the area between the Earth and the orbit of the moon.

“A successfully demonstrated NTP system will provide a leap ahead in space-propulsion capability, allowing agile and rapid transit over vast distances as compared to present propulsion approaches,” Tabitha Dodson, Gryphon’s chief engineer on the support team and a national expert in NTP systems, said in a statement.

The militarization of space, this time largely involving the United States and China, has been in the news in recent years in a way that it hasn’t since the decades-old Space Race between the U.S. and the Soviets. The idea of using Nuclear Thermal Propulsion to power spacecraft is that a nuclear reactor utilized to heat a propellant like hydrogen to extreme temperatures, prior to expelling it via a nozzle in order to create thrust, could be significantly more efficient than current chemical rockets. It would also have a thrust-to-weight ratio that is reportedly 10,000 times greater than electric propulsion.

The concept of using nuclear reactors in space is not new, but this effort from DARPA shows just how seriously it is now being taken here in 2020.

“Gryphon is committed to providing high-end technical solutions to our nation’s most critical national security challenges,” said P.J. Braden, CEO of Gryphon, in a statement. “We are proud to support DRACO and the development and demonstration of NTP, a significant technological advancement in efforts to achieve cislunar space awareness.”

No timeline has been

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