Biogen and Envisagenics Announce Collaboration to Advance RNA Splicing Research
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- Published on Friday, 14 May 2021 09:33
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- As part of the agreement, Biogen will leverage Envisagenics’ AI platform with the goal of better understanding Central Nervous System diseases
CAMBRIDGE, MA and NEW YORK, NY, USA I May 13, 2021 IBiogen Inc. (Nasdaq: BIIB) and Envisagenics today announced a new collaboration to advance ribonucleic acid (RNA) splicing research within central nervous system (CNS) diseases. As part of the collaboration, Biogen will leverage Envisagenics’ proprietary artificial intelligence (AI)-driven RNA splicing platform, SpliceCore®, to define and understand the regulation of different RNA isoforms in CNS cell types.
Genetic information encoded in the human chromosome is converted into RNA molecules which is then used as the template to make proteins. RNA splicing is the process that trims out extra information embedded in the intermediate RNA molecules, and this trimmed RNA is what is then used to produce functional proteins.
“Since Biogen’s earliest days, RNA splicing has been an integral part of our history and mission dating back to co-founder Phillip Sharp’s discovery of the process in 1977,” said Alfred Sandrock, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., head of research and development at Biogen. “By combining Envisagenics’ SpliceCore platform with our deep expertise in this scientific approach, we believe that Biogen will be able to advance our understanding of RNA splicing and potentially identify new drug targets for CNS diseases.”
“Envisagenics is thrilled to work with Biogen because we share a commitment to identifying potential treatments for CNS diseases through innovative AI technology like the SpliceCore platform. Envisagenics and Biogen recognize the power of RNA splicing to aid in the discovery of potential therapeutics,” said Maria Luisa Pineda, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Envisagenics. Envisagenics’ Chief Technology Officer, Martin Akerman, Ph.D., added, “scientists have only recently been able to uncover disease-causing novel isoforms at scale, thanks to improvements in the speed and sensitivity of bioinformatics software like SpliceCore.”
Traditionally, the process of detecting, cataloging and interpreting RNA splicing errors has been laborious, slow and costly. However, by tapping into Envisagenics’ machine learning algorithms and high-performance computing, Biogen may now be able to identify, test and validate splicing errors at scale. Through this collaboration, Biogen will gain access to SpliceCore’s database of approximately seven million potential RNA splicing errors, which is the largest database of splicing errors in the world. This will provide Biogen with a broader lens to evaluate splicing events that may be targeted for therapeutic gain. In addition, collaboration aligns to Biogen’s broader objective of identifying and validating genetic targets of disease to increase the probability of success in CNS drug discovery.
At Biogen, our mission is clear: we are pioneers in neuroscience. Biogen discovers, develops and delivers worldwide innovative therapies for people living with serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases as well as related therapeutic adjacencies. One of the world’s first global biotechnology companies, Biogen was founded in 1978 by Charles Weissmann, Heinz Schaller, Kenneth Murray and Nobel Prize winners Walter Gilbert and Phillip Sharp. Today Biogen has the leading portfolio of medicines to treat multiple sclerosis, has introduced the first approved treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, commercializes biosimilars of advanced biologics and is focused on advancing research programs in multiple sclerosis and neuroimmunology, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, neuromuscular disorders, movement disorders, ophthalmology, neuropsychiatry, immunology, acute neurology and neuropathic pain.
Envisagenics is an Artificial Intelligence-driven biotechnology company that focuses on the discovery of novel RNA splicing variants that cause cancer and other genetic diseases. Its principal technology is the SpliceCore® discovery platform. The platform re-envisions the human genome with a validated exon-centric approach, combined with machine learning algorithms and high-performance computing. It is up to 250 times more likely to discover novel targets than gene-centric discovery tools. Using innovative technology and RNA analysis expertise, Envisagenics accelerates the development of highly specific therapeutics that modulate RNA splicing variants that drive pathogenesis of oncology, neurodegenerative, and metabolic disorders.
Envisagenics partners with biopharmaceutical companies and academic institutions to advance their drug discovery capabilities. Envisagenics also has its own internally developed RNA therapeutic programs. Envisagenics is a spin-out of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and a current resident of Johnson & Johnson Innovation in JLABS@NYC. Envisagenics is a proud woman- and minority-led recipient of several grants from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Cancer Institute.