LDS in the fight against West Nile Virus

Thanks to a collaboration with the University of Siena and CNR of Pavia, a novel strategy to fight West Nile Virus and other emergent viruses

Following their recent study that led to the identification of the first molecule able to inhibit the replication of several viruses (such as Hepatitis C, HIV, Dengue) through the action on a cellular enzyme (DDX3), the research groups coordinated by Prof. Maurizio Botta from the University of Siena and Dr. Giovanni Maga from the IGM-CNR Pavia, also in collaboration with Lead Discovery Siena and Prof. Giannecchini from the University of Florence, have developed a novel family of DDX3 inhibitors which have been shown to be efficacious to block the replication of West Nile virus in human cells, without any damage to healthy cells.

These molecules, with promising pharmacokinetic properties, pave the way for the formulation of an innovative class of drugs directed against West Nile virus and other emergent viruses. The research has been published on  the prestigious Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, published by the American Chemical Society.

West Nile virus is most commonly spread to people by the bite of infected mosquitoes that are also present in Italy where it is responsible for several infections each year, even with severe neurological complications. Moreover, this virus infects each year millions of persons all over the world. Despite continuous efforts being made to identify new drugs or vaccines, no specific therapy or prophylaxis is actually available on the market.

Our approach – commented Prof. Botta and Dr. Maga – is highly innovative because exploits a cellular enzyme to block virus replication. Actually, it makes the cell an adverse environment for virus replication. Usually, antiviral drugs are directed against viral proteins which rapidly mutates and thus might become resistant to treatments. On the other side, our strategy is able to overcome this obstacle. Other viruses, such as Dengue and Zika, depend on DDX3 for their replication. Thus, our molecules could become broad spectrum antiviral therapeutic agents – not available so far – against emergent viruses. The good scientific research conducted in our Universities and at CNR has played a leading role in achieving such success. This work was made possible thanks to the precious economic support from Tuscany Region through the FAS Salute 2014 Grant (DD 4042/2014) and from First Health Pharmaceuticals B. V.”.

 

Published article on Journal Medicinal Chemistry

LDS at the BIO International Convention in Boston

LDS joined the 25th edition of BIO 2018 held in Boston, U.S.A., from 4th to 7th June, the largest business partnering event (setting a new Guinness World Record!) for biotech and pharma companies.

BIO 2018 attracted 18,289 U.S. and international attendees, involved in 46,916 partnering meetings, who came together for one week of intensive networking to discover new opportunities and promising partnerships in a wide spectrum of life science and application areas including drug discovery, biomanufacturing, genomics, biofuels, nanotechnology and cell therapy.

LDS exhibited at the Italian Pavilion and had the possibility to network and connect to companies and potential partners. With over 20 scheduled meetings in two days, LDS met company delegates from US, Europe, China and Australia.

It was a great opportunity to increase its visibility on an international level, get feedback from experts and explore new solutions to sustain its projects.

http://convention.bio.org/2018/

 

LDS reaffirms commitment to fighting viral diseases: the PANVIR.NET Project

LDS is the leading institution in PANVIR.NET Project together with VisMederi Research srl, Accurange srl, Pharma Development and Services srl, University of Siena, University of Florence, and University of Pisa.

PANVIR.NET is co-financed in the framework of POR FESR Toscana 2014-2020, Azione 1.1.5 sub-azione a1; Bando 2 “Progetti di ricerca e Sviluppo delle PMI”

Objective of PANVIR.NET (Preclinical development of novel panviral agents within a specialized regional network) is to develop new therapies based on broad spectrum antiviral agents against those viruses currently responsible of outbreaks with a potential epidemic or pandemic evolution, thanks to a public-private network localized in Tuscany Region and able to guide and support the antiviral drug discovery and development process.

Recent demographic and climatic changes have caused a wider diffusion of arboviruses such as Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika, West Nile, and novel influenza viruses subtypes, and an increased risk for novel infections or re-activation of persistent infections, such as erpetic infections from cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr, herpes simplex type -1 and -2 e varicella-zoster. Broad spectrum antiviral drugs  that target common components present in several viruses could represent a novel strategy to fight viral infections that are currently without any specific drugs, and to limit the selection of resistant viral strains.

Within PANVIR.NET, LDS and its partners aims to identify at least one novel preclinical candidate for the treatment of viral diseases. This will include the definition of all the tests and methods that are necessary to develop new antiviral drugs through the development and consolidation of a specialized regional network.

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PANVIR.NET è un Progetto co-finanziato nel quadro del POR FESR Toscana 2014-2020; Azione 1.1.5 sub-azione a1; Bando 2 “Progetti di ricerca e sviluppo delle MPMI”

Obiettivo di PANVIR.NET (Sviluppo preclinico di agenti PANVIRali innovativi all’interno di un NETwork regionale specializzato) è lo sviluppo di nuove terapie basate su agenti antivirali ad ampio spettro contro virus che sono causa di focolai con possibile andamento epidemico o pandemico, all’interno di un network pubblico-privato localizzato in Toscana in grado di supportare e guidare il percorso di sviluppo di farmaci antivirali.

Recenti cambiamenti demografici e climatici hanno portato ad una maggiore diffusione di arbovirus quali Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika, West Nile, e nuovi sottotipi di virus influenzali, e ad un accresciuto rischio di nuove infezioni o di riattivazione di quelle persistenti, tra cui le infezioni erpetiche da citomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr, herpes simplex tipo -1 e -2 e varicella-zoster. Farmaci antivirali ad ampio spettro che bersagliano componenti comuni a più virus, rappresentano una strategia innovativa per contrastare infezioni virali per le quali non esistono farmaci specifici e limitare la selezione di varianti virali resistenti.

In PANVIR.NET, LDS ed i suoi partner intendono identificare almeno un candidato preclinico innovativo per il trattamento di malattie virali oltre a definire i test e le procedure necessarie allo sviluppo di nuovi farmaci antivirali, attaverso lo sviluppo e consolidamento di un network regionale specializzato.

Sostegno finanziario ricevuto dall’Unione: 672 708,97 €

 

LDS at the “Innovation2Business” Workshop 2017

The second edition of the Innovation2Business event was held on November 7th, at the Obihall in Florence.

The I2B workshop has been organised by the Innovation Center of Intesa Sanpaolo, with the support of Confindustria Toscana, University of Florence, University of Pisa, Tuscany Region, and Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies to bring together start-up companies, innovative PMIs and big companies looking for new services and technologies, in order to link innovation supply and demand.

About 200 Tuscan companies attended the event. The business performance in 2017 confirms that Tuscany has undertaken a path of growth and development and the next challenges are all about the ability to exploit and consolidate the current positive framework to finally propose as a distinctive reality able to steer the country.

LDS participated in the workshop to present its activities, research projects, and scientific services within scheduled meeting sessions with potentially interested parties. It was a significant day to meet many other realities from the life sciences sector in Tuscany and also from the finance area. The actors were given the chance to exploit new potential collaborations and business opportunities.

The official program provided two slots dedicated to I2B meetings and a round table with the stakeholder to boost the innovation process in Tuscany. An intervention from the Production Activities, Credit, Tourism, and Commerce Regional Ministry finally ended the meeting.

For more details, download the brochure of the event.

 

 

Meet In Italy for Life Sciences 2017

LDS has attended the last edition of Meet in Italy for Life Sciences which is the main national matchmaking and update event on topical issues in Life Sciences

LDS was present at the two working days of the MIT4LS, which was held in Turin from 11th to 12th October, as a great opportunity for business meetings, networking activities, and to be updated about industry’s key trends and innovation strategies. LDS participated to several bilateral face to face meetings with potential collaboration partners for science and business from several countries all over Europe and also outside.

MIT4LS was organised by Confindustria Piemonte, Piemonte Innnovation Cluster BioPmed, Life Sciences Technological Cluster Alisei, and Camera di Commercio di Torino and involved more than 400 participants from 36 countries with the aim to highlight innovative startup in the Life Sciences sector and facilitate new collaborations and business.

https://www.b2match.eu/mit4ls2017

 

Farewell to Dario Fo

We are all very saddened to hear that the Nobel prize winning playwright and actor Dario Fo has died.

We have all lost a great protagonist of the theatre, of culture, of the civic life of Italy. LDS team feels much more involved since the incredible opportunity we had to personally meet him last May.

Dario Fo and Franca Rame – his wife, muse and leading actor – captured the hearts and minds of Italians, writing and performing for stage, radio and television, and regularly skewering political leaders with deft dialogue.

 

Art, he said, had to have a “very strong relation to the facts of life”, and this was also demonstrated by his interest to our work. Thank you Maestro, for the enthusiasm you had in supporting the research on DDX3 inhibitors both through economic support and by giving us the strength and the courage to carry on the project.  We will remember you with affection and admiration.

http://www.repubblica.it/cultura/2016/10/13/news/addio_a_dario_fo_premio_nobel_per_la_letteratura_uomo_delle_arti_a_tutto_tondo-149664086/

Maurizio Botta Guest of Honour at the Evening for Science and Society 2016

Maurizio Botta, LDS CEO, was invited to the annual Evening for Science and Society in the Netherlands.

He was personally welcomed by the Secretary of State for Education as the special guest of the event. Every year the event hosts the prestigious Huibregtsen Award for the best academic scientist of the Netherlands during an impressive gala diner in the medieval Hall of the Knights, the official throne hall of the governmental see of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The event promotes the interaction between science and society by inviting a selection of some of the most important academic scientist of the Netherlands and mixing them up with political decision makers, captains of industry and representatives of important institutions.

Maurizio Botta was honoured to participate and to be at the table with some of the key people involved in the First Health group, which actually sponsors the research on DDX3 inhibitors also involving LDS.

On the group photo above we see Prof. Maurizio Botta next to Mickey Huibregtsen (L), the president of the First Health United Foundation and Maurice de Hond (R), who together with Huibregtsen is a board member of both the First Health United Foundation, as well as the First Health Capital investment fund. On the far left and right we see Alessia Tarditi, the scientific director-, and Jan Willem Bakker, the general manager of First Health Pharmaceuticals.

The Huibregtsen Award of 2016 went to Prof. Dr. Ronald Hanson for his groundbreaking research in quantum physics, where he investigated the capabilities of particles to communicate at distance. On behalf of Mickey Huibregtsen himself and Professor Maurizio Botta we congratulate Professor Hanson with his admirable achievements.

UNAVIR at SMAU Florence 2016

Smau is the matching platform for innovation and professional continuous training.  For over 50 years, Smau supports Italian companies and professionals to innovate, and it is an opportunity for entrepreneurs, managers, companies, and public administrations to grow up and to catch up on innovation, technology, and ICT.  Smau is a national event roadshow helping public actors and companies willing to look beyond the present and opportunities offered by new technologies, digital world, and most promising start ups.

The event of this year is also dedicated to the synergies among research centres, companies and public funding in the Life Sciences areas as experienced in Fas Salute 2014 Call of Tuscany Region which UNAVIR is belonging to.

UNAVIR is a project aimed at identifying new therapeutic treatments for rare viral infections, such as Dengue, Chikungunya and West Nile and brings together Universities of Siena, Pisa, and Florence and companies, Lead Discovery Siena and VisMederi, to develop innovative treatments of personalised medicine. LDS will contribute to the projects by supporting the design, synthesis and ADMET characterization of new molecular entities active against these virues.

Maurizio Botta, LDS CEO, was the rapporteur on this project at Smau Florence to show its background, the research strategy and its potentialities.

http://www.smau.it/firenze16/schedules/sinergia-tra-centri-di-ricerca-imprese-e-fondi-pubblici-per-le-scienze-della-vita-lesperienza-del-bando-fas-salute-2014-di-regione-toscana/

http://www.meetthelifesciences.it/it/archvio/436-il-bando-fas-salute-2014-protagonista-a-smau-firenze

Maurizio Botta interview at Italian TV programme Elisir

Maurizio Botta, LDS CEO, gives an interview on a popular television programme in Italy, dedicated to health and welfare.

Maurizio talks about the project on DDX3 inhibitors as antiviral agents active against HIV and Hepatitis C, among the others.

Maurizio’s research group together with the Molecular Genetics Institute of CNR in Pavia, identified the first molecules targeting DDX3, a human protein involved in the replication of many viral pathogens. During its interview, Maurizio outlines the innovative strategy which underpins the research project on DDX3 inhibitors, and recalls the history of this exciting discovery which mainly involved Italian research groups.

LDS is now taking part to the development of these broad spectrum antiviral agents thanks to its expertise and competences in discovery and development.

The show aired on 23th May 2016.

http://www.raiplay.it/video/2016/05/Elisir-del-23052016-4fd64414-9968-4e37-bb56-f0b538d38e21.html