Promotive Communications

LabFocus Feb Mar 2019

Laboratory Focus is Canada's leading editorial-based lab publication. Providing readers with the latest technology updates through application and tech notes, as well as covering new products and trends in laboratories across Canada.

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4 February/March 2019 Laboratory Focus www.laboratoryfocus.ca NEWS Skyhawk small molecule therapeu- tics for alternative splicing of RNA (SkySTAR TM ) is a platform that can create small molecule drugs that lead to breakthrough treatments for patients. On Jan. 4, Biogen Inc. and Sky- hawk Therapeutics announced they would be collaborating to leverage Skyhawk's SkySTAR TM technology platform in the hopes of discovering new small molecule treatments for patients with neu- rological diseases. As one of the world's first global biotechnology companies, Biogen has made it their mission to be pioneers in the neuroscience field. Through this $74 million deal where Skyhawk received an up- front payment, Biogen is granted an exclusive license to worldwide intellectual property rights on re- search-stage treatments for multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, and other neurological disorders. Biogen's executive vice president of research and development, Mi- chael Ehlers, MD, PhD said, "Sky- hawk's platform offers a powerful approach to target neurological conditions using selective RNA- modulating small molecules, creat- ing exciting possibilities for potential new therapies". Skyhawk plans to use a portion of the upfront payment to fund future research with the remainder being expensed to research and develop- ment during the first quarter of 2019. Bill Haney, co-founder and CEO of Skyhawk looks forward to the re- sults of this new agreement. "Their strong scientific culture has already produced a series of leading global therapeutics. We look forward to BIOGEN AND SKYHAWK THERAPEUTICS ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT TO DEVELOP NOVEL SMALL MOLECULE RNA SPLICING MODIFIERS FOR NEUROLOGICAL DISEASE TARGETS US SMARTPHONE APP USED TO RECRUIT PATIENTS FOR CLINICAL TRIALS It's often difficult to recruit subjects for clinical trials with low-income and minority patients often being underrepresented in the trial. When underrepresentation occurs in a trial, the results are often less valid. Further- more, when clinical trials fail to meet their recruitment goals, the study is often delayed, terminated early or found inconclusive because of a lack of statistical power. Doc.ai, smartphone app developer and blockchain-based AI platform, may have a solution that uses AI to guide subjects through their "omics" (genomics, proteomics, metabolo- mics) to make better health decisions. The company currently has a deal with Anthem Inc., the second largest health insurer in the US, to enable people to participate in studies best suited to their personal profile. Rajeev Ronanki, Chief Digital Of- ficer at Anthem says, "The holy grail is to put interlocking data together and keep the patient in the center". It's expected that the AI health data mining market will exceed $6 billion US by 2021. Founder and CEO of doc.ai, Walter De Brouwer, sees the value in em- powering individuals by making their personal health information accessible. "Evolution of health data has unprec- edented value," De Brouwer says. "We want to put all your data in one place, so you can access it with the click of a button on your phone." So far, over 25,000 users have uploaded personal information and provided access to their health records. When individuals share their health care information through the doc.ai app, they have the potential to improve their future health outcomes. DR. CHRISTINA McCORD MAKES PATHOLOGY COME ALIVE For Dr. Christina McCord, DDS, teach- ing is all about the students. A den- tistry program is challenging and it's important for students to seek support from each other as well as faculty. "My goal is to create a great learning experience for the students, so that they can feel prepared to go out into the world and potentially make a life changing diagnosis," she said. The successor to Dr. Tom Daley in Schulich Dentistry oral pathology, Dr. McCord remembers being exposed to passionate teachers like Dr. Daley and mentor Dr. Mark Darling at Lon- don's Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. These teachers inspired Dr. McCord to learn more, so after graduating from Schulich, she went on to study oral pathology and oral medicine at the University of Toronto. Dr. McCord currently teaches first-, second- and third-year dentistry stu- dents about oral disease, oral surgery, and general practice dental. It's clear that Dr. McCord loves what she does. In addition to teaching, she runs a busy clinical practice at London Health Sciences Centre's University Hospital and participates in a diagnostic pathol- ogy service for dental and medical professionals in Ontario. At the university, Dr. McCord is also building a research program to investigate pathologic lesions of the mouth, focussing on premalignant and potentially malignant lesions and human papillomavirus associated with oral dysplasia. "I really care deeply about the school, and I love what I'm doing," she said. "It's just so fulfilling to be work- ing with students and sharing some of my experience with them." working with their team with the goal of potentially enhancing the treatment options we could bring to the neuroscience community." Dr. Christina McCord

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