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In Brief This Week: Lifebit, Genetron Health, Immuneering, A3P Biomedical, Aptamer Group, Neuro-Bio

NEW YORK – Lifebit has opened a new regional operation in Singapore to facilitate its relationship with Synapxe, Singapore's national health technology agency, and to advance its precision medicine initiatives in the Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ) regions, the company announced this week. Lifebit offers a federated technology platform for genomics and biomedical data that it is currently implementing into Trust, a national analytics platform that enables the secure assimilation and use of anonymized health-related research and real-world data. This platform will in turn enable precision medicine research in Singapore and the wider APJ region, Lifebit said. 

Chinese precision oncology testing company Genetron Health said this week that its shareholders have voted in favor of the previously announced proposal to merge parent company New Genetron Holding Limited and its subsidiary Genetron New Co Limited to create a new privately owned entity, Genetron Health. If and when completed, the company's American Depositary Shares (ADS), each representing 15 ordinary company shares, would no longer be listed on the Nasdaq Global Market, and the ADS program would be terminated. In addition, Genetron's ordinary shares would cease to be registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Genetron specializes in cancer molecular profiling for disease management, screening, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations and offers biopharma development services. 

Immuneering said this week that the US Food and Drug Administration has granted fast-track designation to the firm's RAS inhibitor, IMM-1-104, as a treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer patients after at least one prior line of treatment. The firm is evaluating IMM-1-104 in a Phase I/IIa clinical trial in patients with RAS-mutated solid cancers and expects to share multiple readouts this year. The FDA grants fast-track designation, which includes potential eligibility for accelerated approval, to treatments with the potential to treat conditions with unmet medical need. 

A3P Biomedical said this week that its Stockholm3 prostate cancer test has been included in a regional screening program in Sweden. The test combines protein and genetic biomarkers with clinical data and uses an algorithm to predict the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. The so-called organized program for prostate cancer testing (OPT), initiated by the regions of Stockholm and Gotland, is inviting 27,000 men born in 1972 and 1974 to participate, who will be offered testing with Stockholm3 if their PSA levels are elevated. The goal is to detect aggressive prostate cancer at an early stage, reduce overdiagnosis, and improve the use of healthcare resources, according to the Stockholm-based company. An earlier OPT program, started in 2022 in the region of Värmland and including all men between 50 and 70 years of age, also uses the Stockholm3 test. 

Aptamer Group and Neuro-Bio said this week that they have entered the second phase of their ongoing partnership to develop a lateral flow test for the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Under the partnership, Aptamer Group is developing versions of its Optimer binder affinity reagents to detect a novel Alzheimer's disease biomarker for the detection of the condition. The company previously identified Optimer binders to this marker and is now developing an additional binder against it. 

Researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center said this week that they received $20 million in funding to develop targeted radiopharmaceuticals for cancer. The grant is from the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The grant will go toward developing targeted agents labeled with alpha-emitting radioisotopes and toward developing an education framework and workforce pipeline to bring radiopharmaceutical companies to Tennessee. 

AstraZeneca this week completed its acquisition of Gracell Biotechnologies for $2.00 per ordinary share in cash plus a contingent value right of $.30 per ordinary share upon achievement of a specified regulatory milestone. The upfront and contingent value of the transaction was $1.2 billion. Gracell's lead asset is the BCMA- and CD19-directed CAR T-cell therapy GC012F, which it is developing as a therapy for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma. 

Malvern, Pennsylvania-based Ocugen this week said that it has completed dosing the first cohort in a Phase I/II trial of OCU410ST, a gene therapy candidate it's developing for an eye disorder called Stargardt disease. The study, dubbed GARDian, assesses the safety and efficacy of OCU410ST administered subretinally. In the first cohort of the Phase I portion, three subjects received a single low dose of the gene therapy to one eye. 

The US Food and Drug Administration has granted Avidity Biosciences rare pediatric disease designation for its experimental Duchenne muscular dystrophy treatment, AOC 1044, the San Diego-based company said this week. AOC 1044, an antibody oligonucleotide conjugate, is specifically designed to treat patients with DMD mutations amenable to exon 44 skipping. The drug aims to deliver phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers to skeletal muscle and heart tissue to skip exon 44 of the dystrophin gene, which the firm expects to enable dystrophin production. 

In Brief This Week is a selection of news items that may be of interest to our readers but had not previously appeared on Precision Medicine Online.