Weekly Quick Hits (Greater Philly) – Week of April 10, 2023

By Mark Terry, Alex Keown, and Sarah Ellinwood
April 14, 2023

Funding, Awards and Collaborations

VintaBio Comes Out of Stealth Mode with $64 Million

Philadelphia VintaBio came out of stealth mode with $64 million in funding led by Decheng Capital, a newly appointed CEO David Radspinner, and a custom-built manufacturing facility in Philadelphia. The goal of the company is to alleviate the viral vector bottleneck in cell and gene therapies.

The Center for Breakthrough Medicines Completed Tech Transfer with Penn Gene Therapy Program

The Center for Breakthrough Medicines (CBM), a CDMO, completed a successful tech transfer of the University of Pennsylvania Gene Therapy Program’s adherent cell manufacturing platform for producing adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapies. CBM clients will gain immediate access to the platform, which will allow rapid acceleration of AAV assets from discovery to the clinic.

Clinical ink Signs Partnership with Mural Health

Horsham, Pa.-based Clinical ink, a global life science tech company, announced a strategic partnership with Mural Health, a next-generation participants management platform. Clinical ink’s eSource tech platform, which includes Direct Data Capture, electronic Clinical Outcomes Assessments, Patient Engagement, eConsent, and digital biomarkers, now fully supports participants reimbursement and travel assistance.

In the Clinic

Zynerba Presents Zygel Interim Results

Devon, Pa.-based Zynerba Pharmaceuticals, presented Phase II data of Zygel for Fragile X syndrome at the 55th Gatlinburg Conference. The new interim data from the open-label extension study continues to support the long-term safety and sustained effectiveness of the drug in children and adolescents with Fragile X syndrome. It also demonstrated the greatest improvement in patients with complete methylation of their FMR1 gene.

Research Roundup

Penn Research: Better Eat Your Broccoli

Researchers at Penn State found that broccoli contains molecules that bind to a receptor, in mice at least, that protects the lining of the small intestine, which can inhibit the development of disease. The molecules in broccoli, called aryl hydrocarbon receptor ligands, bind to a aryl hydrocarbon receptor, which is a transcription factor.

Fulton Bank Ad

Penn Research: The Sequence of Brain Development Through Adolescence

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers, using MRI, analyzed how developmental processes unfold across the human brain from the age of 8 to 23. The study found reductions in brain plasticity occur earliest in “sensory-motor” regions, such as visual and auditory regions, and later in “associative” regions, such as problem-solving and social learning. The brain regions that support executive, social, and emotional functions appear to be particularly moldable and responsive to the environment during early adolescence.

Penn Research: Michael J. Fox Foundation Project IDs Parkinson’s Biomarker

Researchers with the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI) identified a biomarker, an alpha-synuclein seed amplification assay, that is highly accurate at identifying people with Parkinson’s disease. The biomarker indicates at-risk individuals and people with early, non-motor symptoms of the disease prior to diagnosis.

CHOP Research: Structural Heart Valve Differences Linked to Greater Tricuspid Regurgitation

Researchers in the Cardiac Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) experiencing have moderate to severe tricuspid regurgitation (TR). The findings were published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, and suggest that the structural differences across TR patients require a patient-specific approach to surgery.

Regulatory and Advocacy

ECRI Calls for Hospitals to Eliminate 3rd-Party Tracking on Hospital Websites

Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based ECRI, an independent, nonprofit group focused on improving safety, quality and cost-effectiveness across all healthcare settings, called for hospitals to remove third-party tracking from their websites and, with advertisers, be held liable for any harm that can be traced back to data sharing.

People on the Move

Billy Oglesby Named Humana Dean at Thomas Jefferson U’s College of Population Health

Billy Oglesby, Ph.D., was picked as the Humana Dean of Thomas Jefferson University’s College of Population Health. The newly endowed position was made possible by a $15 million donation from Humana to advance community health and health equity. 

Gennao Bio Appoints Christopher Duke as CEOGennao Bio, based in Hopewell, NJ, appointed Christopher Duke, MBA, MPH, as CEO, effective immediately. He is replacing founding CEO Stephen Quinto, MD, who will transition to a scientific advisor. Duke has been interim CEO since 2022.