SomaLogic joins UK Dementias Research Platform

SomaLogic joins UK Dementias Research Platform

6/19/2014

 

SomaLogic announced today that is a launch partner of the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) UK Dementias Research Platform (UKDP), a £16 million ($27 million) public-private partnership set up to speed up research into dementias. According to the MRC’s press release, the collaboration aims to enable earlier detection, improved treatment and, ultimately, prevention of the disease, by looking not just at what is going wrong in the brain, but at the brain in the context of the whole body.

The UKDP brings together both industry expertise and investigator teams from eight  universities, and teams them with what will be the world’s largest group of participants in dementias research (more than two million people). The Platform will investigate the causes of dementia across a range of different neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease.

The Platform has attracted industry partners from both within the UK and abroad: Araclon; MedImmune, the global biologics research & development arm of AstraZeneca; GSK; IXICO; Janssen Research & Development in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Innovation; and SomaLogic. The academic partners are: Cardiff University (academic lead), University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London, Newcastle University, University of Oxford, Swansea University and University College London.

More information about the Platform can be found on the MRC website.


SomaLogic announces extension of funding for development of TB diagnostic test

SomaLogic announces extension of funding for development of TB diagnostic test

6/2/2014

SomaLogic, Inc., announced today that it has received additional funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to further develop and validate a SOMAmer-based tuberculosis (TB) biomarker assay for the accurate identification of persons with active TB. This new funding recognizes and extends the successful work completed under the initial TB biomarkers grant awarded to SomaLogic in January 2012 through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health program.

“We are delighted that the Gates Foundation is as excited about our work to date as we have been,” said Urs Ochsner, head of the Infectious Diseases Research Group at SomaLogic and the Principal Investigator on the foundation grant. “Their decision to generously support the further development of our efforts will help us accelerate the realization of our shared goal of defining a low-cost, simple to use tool that can quickly and accurately diagnose TB in developing countries.” Dr. Ochsner will be presenting the current status of his team’s work at a free webinar on June 25, 2014 at 11:00 am EDT.

Under the initial 2012 Grand Challenges in Global Health grant, Ochsner and his colleagues developed SOMAmer® reagents (aptamer-based protein-binding molecules) against TB proteins and combined them with SOMAmer reagents that bound human host proteins that change during TB infection. These combined TB protein and human protein-based SOMAmer reagents will be the basis for evaluating the feasibility of a rapid and effective TB diagnostic test, under this new funding. In addition, the researchers will evaluate the new test in multiple biological sample types (serum, plasma and urine), all of which have shown significant promise in early experiments.

The most beneficial diagnostic TB test would need to measure both multiple TB bacterial proteins as well as the host proteins involved in the onset and progression of the disease. In addition, it must perform effectively in the conditions in the parts of the world where TB is most often rampant. SomaLogic’s breakthrough SOMAmer-based proteomic technology, based on protein-detecting reagents called “SOMAmers,” provides clear advantages over current reagents and methods used in TB tests in terms of accuracy, sensitivity, stability (e.g., no need for refrigeration), ease of production and cost: In short, all of the attributes necessary to develop a POC diagnostic device for remote and resource-poor areas of the world.

In line with the Gates Foundation’s Global Access policy, SomaLogic is committed to ensuring that the knowledge gained during this project is promptly and broadly disseminated, and that diagnostic tests that come from this work will be made available and accessible at a reasonable cost to the developing world.


SomaLogic scientists and colleagues publish two papers describing IL-6 SOMAmers

SomaLogic scientists and colleagues publish two papers describing IL-6 SOMAmers

1/12/2014

In a pair of papers published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry on January 12, 2014, a group of SomaLogic researchers and their colleagues at Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and Emerald Bio describe the development of new SOMAmer reagents that can block signaling by interleukin-6 (IL-6, a critical protein involved in inflammation and cancer), as well as the structural interaction of the two molecules. This work both confirms the unique protein-binding properties of SOMAmers and underlines their potential as a new class of therapeutic reagents.

Signaling by IL-6 through its cellular receptors is known to play a major role in a wide range of biological activities, including immune responses, blood cell development, and even the proliferation of different types of cancer. Because of its multiple effects in a range of diseases, the IL-6 signaling pathway has been the target of many pharmaceutical intervention strategies. However, there is a wide variation in patient responses to these different approaches, suggesting that targeting the actual signaling molecule itself could be an effective approach for patients who do not respond to these other therapies.

The SomaLogic team and their colleagues used the SELEX process to identify SOMAmers that could bind IL-6 with high affinity and block its ability to interact with its cellular receptors. These SOMAmers were then further optimized, and then shown to be effective inhibitors of IL-6 in a variety of settings. Furthermore, the optimized SOMAmers demonstrated significantly improved stability in human serum, underlining their potential as possible therapeutic reagents. Further research is underway.

In addition to the functional studies, the research team analyzed the crystal structure of the new SOMAmers bound to their IL-6 target protein. This analysis confirmed the unique binding properties of SOMAmers compared to traditional aptamers and other protein-binding molecules, a result of the incorporation of modified nucleic acids into the DNA backbone.

Manuscript links:

AD Gelinas et al. (2014) Crystal Structure of Interleukin-6 in Complex with a Modified Nucleic Acid Ligand. J. Biol. Chem. Jan 12, 2014 (epub ahead of print). MEDLINE link.

S Gupta et al. (2014) Chemically-Modified DNA Aptamers Bind Interleukin-6 with High Affinity and Inhibit Signaling by Blocking its Interaction with Interleukin-6 Receptor. J. Biol. Chem. Jan 12, 2014 (epub ahead of print). MEDLINE link.


Agilent and SomaLogic enter agreement to expand access to SOMAscan™ assay

Agilent and SomaLogic enter agreement to expand access to SOMAscan™ assay

8/12/2013

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) and SomaLogic Inc. (a privately held biotechnology company) announced today that they have entered into an agreement to expand access to SomaLogic’s unbiased protein biomarker discovery platform.

The companies will initially place SomaLogic’s SOMAscan proteomic assay, which employs custom Agilent microarrays in its workflow, in select academic and contract research centers. Although the SOMAscan assay is already available to researchers directly from SomaLogic as a service, this planned roll-out is aimed at meeting the rapidly growing demand for access to SomaLogic’s highly multiplexed, cost-effective proteomic analyses.

“This agreement will greatly enhance our current microarray offerings by expanding them into the rapidly growing proteomics market,” said Jacob Thaysen, vice president and general manager of Agilent’s Genomics Solutions Division.  “SomaLogic’s cutting-edge proteomic technology makes them an ideal partner for us to increase our presence in this growing market.”

“Agilent’s custom microarrays have been a critical element in our development of the SOMAscan assay over the past several years,” said Larry Gold, Ph.D., chairman and CEO of SomaLogic. “We are delighted that our partnership is expanding to make the technology even more accessible to researchers everywhere.”

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

About SomaLogic

SomaLogic, Inc., is a privately held biomarker discovery and clinical diagnostics company based in Boulder, Colo. The company’s mission is to use its proprietary proteomic technology to develop a wide range of enhanced protein-analysis tools and reagents for the life sciences community, to facilitate biomarker discovery and validation for diagnostic and therapeutic applications, and to develop and commercialize clinical diagnostic products that will improve the delivery of health care by offering timely and accurate diagnostic information to physicians and their patients. Further information about SomaLogic can be found at www.somalogic.wpengine.com.

About SOMAscan™/SOMAmers®

The SOMAscan proteomic assay utilizes SomaLogic’s proprietary Slow Off-rate Modified Aptamer (SOMAmer) affinity reagents to cost-effectively detect and measure 1129 protein analytes across a wide dynamic range in as little as 50 µl of biological sample, with a throughput of nearly a thousand samples per week, producing millions of useful data points in a short time.  Further information about the applications of this breakthrough proteomic technology can be found at www.somalogic.wpengine.com/technology.

About Agilent Technologies

Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is the world’s premier measurement company and a technology leader in chemical analysis, life sciences, diagnostics, electronics, and communications. The company’s 20,500 employees serve customers in more than 100 countries. Agilent had revenues of $6.9 billion in fiscal 2012. Information about Agilent is available at www.agilent.com.


SomaLogic technology used to discover protein that reverses age-related cardiac hypertrophy in mice

SomaLogic technology used to discover protein that reverses age-related cardiac hypertrophy in mice

5/9/2013

Unbiased proteomic approach helps researchers identify blood-based factor that holds promise for treating human cardiac failure

In a scientific study published today in the journal Cell, a team of researchers led by scientists from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and including scientists from SomaLogic, describe the discovery of a circulating protein, called GDF-11 (Growth Differentiation Factor 11), that can reverse age-related cardiac hypertrophy in mice. The GDF-11 protein was identified using SomaLogic’s breakthrough proteomics technology.

Age-related cardiac hypertrophy is a major factor in diastolic heart failure, the most common form of heart failure in the United States.  The authors of the Cell paper found evidence suggesting that a blood-based circulating factor that maintains normal cardiac size is either diminished or loses its effectiveness as the body ages. The researchers demonstrated that such a factor exists by using mouse models of cardiac hypertrophy, and subsequently identified a candidate factor by combing through metabolites, lipids and proteins in the blood. Their protein analysis, using SomaLogic’s SOMAscan™ assay, revealed several proteins whose levels of expression change with age, and this led to the discovery of GDF-11. The researchers then demonstrated that treating older mice with a recombinant version of the GDF-11 protein can rapidly reverse age-related cardiac hypertrophy. Studies aimed at extending these observations to humans are underway.

“It has been technically challenging to identify specific proteins of interest out of the complex mixture of proteins that circulate through the body, especially those that are associated with diseases of aging,” said Prof. Richard T. Lee, an investigator at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and, one of the senior authors of the Cell paper. “Working with SomaLogic scientists to deploy their new proteomic technology in this study allowed us to do such screening rapidly and effectively.”

A more complete description of the work published in Cell can be found in the Harvard Magazine. An abstract of the manuscript, “Identification of Growth Differentiation Factor 11 as a Circulating Factor that Reverses Age-Related Cardiac Hypertrophy,” is available at the journal site (note: subscription required for the whole paper). A video explaining the work and its findings is available here.

Alex Stewart and Britta Singer of SomaLogic are co-authors of the Cell paper, along with significant contributions from the SOMAscan assay and bioinformatics groups. SomaLogic scientists and their colleagues at UCSF (including Dr. Peter Ganz) have independently found preliminary evidence that GDF-11 deficiency is a potential biomarker for assessing the risk of heart failure in humans, work that was presented at the American Heart Association 2012 Scientific Sessions.