Nanoparticles Cross Blood-Brain Barrier to Treat Stroke

Nanoparticles Cross Blood-Brain Barrier to Treat Stroke

Ischemic strokes can cause havoc in the brain, but early and properly directed treatment can mitigate a lot of damage. While there are a number of options to unclog blocked arteries, the potential to provide additional drug therapy remains mostly unexplored because of the difficulty in getting medications past the blood-brain barrier.

Now, researchers at the University of Manchester are reporting that they were able to pass liposomes across the tiny tears in the vasculature that occur during ischemic strokes. Liposomes are lipid vesicles, naturally produced by the body and easily made in the lab, that are only about 100 nanometers wide.

Fluorescently labelled liposomes selectively translocated into the stroke area left side of brain

In tests on mice, they used in vivo real-time imaging and histological analysis to show that the liposomes successfully penetrated the blood-brain barrier and into the area injured by stroke.

“Liposomes are a tried and tested method of delivering drugs to the body – and are currently used to treat patients, for example, to target cancer drugs into the tumor at high doses which increases their concentration relative to other parts of the body,” said Dr Zahraa Al-Ahmady, the lead researcher of the study appearing in ACS Nano. “They are easy to manufacture and used across the NHS. But our research shows that liposomes have important implications for neurologists too.”

Now that this technology has been developed, it should be possible to press forward with assessing potential chemical compounds that may alleviate and potentially reverse damage caused by strokes.

Study in journal ACS Nano: Selective Liposomal Transport through Blood Brain Barrier Disruption in Ischemic Stroke Reveals Two Distinct Therapeutic Opportunities

Via: University of Manchester

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Source: Nanoparticles Cross Blood-Brain Barrier to Treat Stroke

3D Printed Liquid Biopsy Device Captures Most Cancer Cells

3D Printed Liquid Biopsy Device Captures Most Cancer Cells

Circulating tumor cells can point to the existence of cancer and provide information about its progression. Capturing these cells remains a tricky process. Dozens of devices have been developed that do their best to grab onto only the cancer cells being looked for, but they all suffer from problems such as poor efficiency, damage to the captured cells, and manufacturing complexity.

Researchers at Georgia Tech have now 3D printed a device that works in a novel way to filter out red and white blood cells, leaving only tumor cells that are unharmed and ready for genetic analysis.

The device requires very little prep work, uses a reasonably small amount of blood, and doesn’t require much technical knowledge to operate.

Since the technology is not designed to seek out specific cancer cells, it can capture most cells that are cancerous. This is because the “negative enrichment” process, as the researchers call it, focuses on getting rid of the vast majority of the blood’s normal components.

The new device required very long and winding channels that work to capture blood cells. These channels would normally get clogged by the printing wax, but the researchers were able to heat and spin them in a centrifuge. This cleaned out the channels so that sample blood can pass through.

An antigen deposited within the channels is designed to capture white blood cells, while a commercial filter separates red cells from the remaining few white blood cells and circulating tumor cells.

Study in journal Lab on a Chip: Hybrid negative enrichment of circulating tumor cells from whole blood in a 3D-printed monolithic device

Via: Georgia Tech

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Source: 3D Printed Liquid Biopsy Device Captures Most Cancer Cells

Tmunity Therapeutics Pulls In $75M

Tmunity Therapeutics Pulls In $75M

PHILADELPHIA, PA, Tmunity Therapeutics toady closed a $75 million Series B financing.

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Tmunity Therapeutics, in pursuit of its vision to save and improve lives by delivering the full potential of next-generation T-cell immunotherapy, closed a $75 million Series B financing. The financing was led by Andreessen Horowitz (also known as “a16z”), a venture capital firm that backs bold entrepreneurs building the future through technology and includes participation from a16z’s Cultural Leadership Fund. Joining the Series B financing are Westlake Village BioPartners, Gilead Sciences, The University of Pennsylvania, Be The Match BioTherapies and BrightEdge, the philanthropic impact fund of the American Cancer Society.The proceeds from the Series B will continue to fund ongoing and planned research, clinical development of product candidates, the continued build-out of the Company’s proprietary, vertically-integrated viral vector and cell therapy product manufacturing, working capital and other general purposes. Since inception, Tmunity has raised $231 million.

“We are fortunate to be funded by impressive investors who share our commitment to patients and our vision to dramatically change the way cancer is treated,” said Usman “Oz” Azam, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Tmunity. “We see ourselves leading the innovation of the future of oncology treatment by uniting our foundational competences in cell therapy with expertise in building new constructs, translating them and getting them into the clinic.”

As part of the Series B financing, Jorge Conde, General Partner at a16z, will join the Company’s Board of Directors. Mr. Conde leads a16z’s investments that are at the cross section of biology, computer science and engineering.

“To win the war on cancer, we need smarter weapons. Tmunity’s founders Carl June and Bruce Levine invented CAR-T, one of the most profound breakthroughs against cancer in recent history. Together with Oz Azam, who with his team, brought the first CAR-T therapy to market, the company has built a pioneering platform that has produced an unrivaled therapeutic pipeline with programs already in human clinical trials for both solid and liquid tumors. This is the dream team to deliver on the bold and promising mission to cure disease using engineered T-cells,” said Conde.

About Tmunity Therapeutics

Tmunity is a private clinical-stage biotherapeutics company focused on saving and improving lives by delivering the full potential of next-generation T-cell immunotherapy to patients with devastating diseases. Integrating a foundational collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) with the groundbreaking scientific, clinical, and manufacturing expertise, and the demonstrated track record of its founders (Carl June, MD; Bruce Blazar, MD; Bruce Levine, PhD; Yangbing Zhao, MD, PhD; Jim Riley, PhD; and Anne Chew, PhD), Tmunity represents a new center of gravity in translational T-cell medicine. Through the University of Pennsylvania, the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and collaborations with the University of California San Francisco and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the company is developing a diversified portfolio of novel treatments that exhibit best-in-class control over T-cell activation and direction in the body, with a focus in cancer and three programs currently in clinic development. With headquarters in Philadelphia, Tmunity utilizes laboratories and production facilities at Penn and its own dedicated cGMP manufacturing facility in East Norriton, PA, to pursue process improvement and production scale-up in support of clinical development of its T-cell therapies. For more information, visit and connect with us on social media at @TmunityTx and LinkedIn.

Source: Tmunity Therapeutics Pulls In $75M

Twistle raises $16 to automate patient engagement

Twistle raises $16 to automate patient engagement

Twistle, a Seattle-based developer of a health care communication platform with automated workflows, today announced that it’s raised $16 million in series A funding led by Health Enterprise Partners (HEP) and MemorialCare Health System’s MemorialCare Innovation Fund (MCIF). The fresh funds bring the company’s total raised to $19.8 million, which CEO Kulmeet Singh said will bolster Twistle’s customer acquisition efforts in the provider and life sciences segments.

“We are particularly impressed with [HEP and MCIF’s] partnerships with leading provider and payer enterprises, and their records of helping innovative healthcare technology companies succeed,” said Singh, who cofounded Twistle in 2011 with Harjinder Sandhu. “We think they are the ideal partners to help us lead healthcare into a new era of communication effectiveness … If we want to deliver great care and bend the cost curve in this country, we cannot continue following the status quo. We have to use automation to increase the effectiveness of our care teams and find better ways to motivate patients to take ownership of their own health.”

Twistle’s eponymous software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, which connects to patients through multiple channels including text messaging, a mobile app, and phone, automates health provider tasks from reminders to information gathering and education. It enables clinicians and patients to automatically send and receive HIPAA-compliant messages as well as photos and videos, and it monitors patient engagement with surveys that can be automatically acted upon to improve satisfaction.


Above: Twistle’s mobile app.

Image Credit: Twistle

Twistle helpfully integrates with electronic health records, registries, and predictive analytics tools, and with devices and wearables, and it delivers real-time insights for team-based care models such as Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) and Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH). Perhaps best of all, it allows health care providers to customize its patient portals and pathways.

Twistle claims its customers see a 38% reduction in readmissions on average, as well as a 50% reduction in no-shows and an 84% dip in phone calls.

“Large health systems are confronted with a dizzying array of apps to educate and guide patients, each targeting a different disease or condition, with a unique app experience,” said MCIF managing director Brant Heise. “Twistle’s technology makes a difference for patients, too. Twistle enables health systems to eliminate many point solutions and consolidate on a single platform that integrates with the existing IT ecosystem. Allowing patients to engage through messaging standardizes their experience and makes adoption simple.”

Twistle isn’t the only automated patient engagement platform vying for a slice of the over $12.86 billion market. There’s Relatient and TigerConnect, not to mention DoctorConnect, Luma Health, RelevantMD, Zingit, Mend, and IntakeQ. But HEP managing partner Ezra Mehlman notes that Twistle is already seeing uptake, with customers including UC Irvine Health, Trinity Health, AdventistHealth, Pulse Heart Institute, Lutheran General Hospital, University of Rochester Medicine, Providence St. Joseph Health, and others signing on.

“In our conversations with them, we hear the priority their executives are assigning to hyper-individualized care plans and asynchronous patient communications,” Mehlman said. “They see these as the keys to true patient engagement. We have also observed how many of these leaders select Twistle as their solution after rigorous head-to-head contests. We are thrilled to be partnering with Kulmeet Singh and his team in executing on what we believe is an outsized market opportunity.”

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Source: Twistle raises $16 to automate patient engagement

Duality Technologies raises $16 million for privacy-preserving data science solutions

Duality Technologies raises $16 million for privacy-preserving data science solutions

Newark, New Jersey-based Duality Technologies, a provider of privacy-enhancing data science solutions, today announced that it’s raised $16 million in a series A round led by Intel Capital, with participation from Hearst Ventures and existing investor Team8. Duality previously raised $4 million in a November 2018 round, which together with this latest tranche brings its total raised to about $20 million.

Cofounder and CEO Alon Kaufman said that Duality will leverage the fresh funding to continue developing its secure computing platform and to expand into new segments. To this end, it recently collaborated with Intel to explore the challenges of AI workloads using encryption, which informed efforts like the open source HE-Transformer backend for Intel’s nGraph neural network compiler.

“AI and Machine Learning are transforming countless industries, but they have also created new privacy challenges that regulation alone can’t solve,” said Kaufman. “We are excited by the investment of Intel Capital, Hearst Ventures. and Team8 in Duality, and look forward to collaborating with these industry leaders in delivering innovative privacy-enhanced solutions to the market. Our mission is to reconcile data utility and privacy while unlocking a whole new world of secure collaborative business opportunities for our customers.”

Duality keeps a low profile but deals principally in homomorphic encryption, a form of cryptography that enables computation on plaintext (file contents) encrypted using an algorithm (also known as ciphertexts). It generates an encrypted result that when decrypted exactly matches the result of operations that would have been performed on unencrypted text.

Duality’s SecurePlus offering enables multiple parties to collaborate without exposing their data or analytics models. Data remains protected end-to-end even when analyzed in untrusted cloud environments, courtesy “quantum-resistant” technologies that conform to the standards laid out by the homomorphic encryption industry consortium.

Duality pitches the platform as a privacy-preserving solution for “numerous” enterprises, particularly those in regulated industries. Banks using SecurePlus can conduct privacy-enhanced financial crime investigations across institutions, the company says, while scientists can tap it to collaborate on research involving patient records. Even retailers stand to benefit with privacy-preserving data supply chain schemes enabled by homomorphic encryption.

“Intel Capital has been following the space closely, and we are excited to see secure computing and homomorphic encryption becoming practical and broadly applicable,” said Intel Capital vice president and senior managing director Anthony Lin. “We believe privacy-preservation in AI and ML represents a huge market need, and we’re investing in Duality because of its unique founding team and world-leading expertise in both advanced cryptography and data science.”

Hearst Ventures senior managing director Kenneth Bronfin added, “As a leading global, diversified media, information and services company with more than 360 businesses across industries, we are acutely aware of the increasing importance of data and data collaboration in companies across many market segments. Sensitive data is constantly being generated by both individuals and businesses; there needs to be technology available that protects such data while allowing us to extract insights.”

Duality was cofounded in 2016 by Kaufman, chairwoman Rina Shainski, Turing Award-winning professor Shafi Goldwasser, MIT professor Vinod Vaikuntanathan, and open source pioneer Dr. Kurt Rohloff. Vaikuntanathan is the co-inventor of the foundational BGV homomorphic encryption scheme, and Rohloff is the founder of the PALISADE homomorphic encryption open source library on which Duality’s platform is based.

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Source: Duality Technologies raises $16 million for privacy-preserving data science solutions

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