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Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Technology
Merck Granted U.S. Patent for novel combination

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Pharmaceuticals

Merck, a science and technology company, announced that it has been granted Patent No. US 10,193,695 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The patent relates to the formation of ‘crypto-objects’, a novel security procedure linking Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology.

“This new patent continues to build on momentum gained through earlier patents. Our heritage in the security materials business makes our company an expert in the sector. Merck is now spearheading the development of blockchain technologies that focus on a combination of physical objects and digital security. This will have implications for all industries that depend on reliable product authenticity, such as safety-critical supply chains in the pharma and food sector.”

Isabel De Paoli, Chief Strategy Officer at Merck

The new technology uses machine learning to link physical objects to a blockchain through their own unique identifiers or ‘fingerprints‘. Any unique feature can be used as a fingerprint, such as a chemical signature, DNA, or image patterns. The patented technology paves the way for established identification processes (for example barcode scanners or mass spectrometry) to be combined with blockchain and machine-learning technologies to provide a novel, integrated security approach and thus certainty and defense to businesses.

To date, Machine-to-Machine readability has been the standard approach to connecting objects to digital supply chain workflows. Now, the new concept covered by Patent No. US 10,193,695 makes Machine-to-Object readability possible by linking AI and blockchain technology. This latest patent follows Patent Nos. US 10,002,362 and US 10,002,277, which include the integration of physical materials into the digital world, the protection of the corresponding hardware and most notably, the enhancement of existing security functions.

The need for enhanced supply chain integrity through new technologies has become increasingly important, as highlighted by a recent report issued by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The World Health Organization estimates that over 50% of medicines purchased on illegal websites are fake. Not only healthcare, but also other industries face similar challenges from the growing counterfeit trade. For example, nearly one in five mobile phones shipped internationally is fake.

The patented technology is being developed by an innovation project in the Merck Innovation Center, which aims to grow ideas into viable new businesses beyond the current scope of the company’s activities. In accordance with a company builder approach, it provides dedicated support, clear governance and decision making in a protected start-up-like environment to efficiently grow and scale innovation projects. By offering such a protected innovation ecosystem, the Innovation Center builds the bridge between the agility of a start-up and the more complex processes of an established corporate group.

Pharmaceuticals

Fight metabolic diseases
Servier collaborates with Harvard researchers

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Servier and Harvard researchers will embark on a three-year preclinical research project where the ultimate objective is to develop therapeutics targeting the microbiota for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and NAFLD. The work will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from both parties. The research team at Harvard University will be led by Emily P. Balskus, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and the team at Servier will be led by Philippe Delerive, Head of Research for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases. The collaboration combines the expertise of Servier researchers in the field of metabolism and drug development with Prof. Balskus’ expertise in chemical discovery relating to the gut microbiome. Together, the parties hope to make important advances in understanding disease biology and to use emerging technologies to develop new treatment options for diseases with high unmet medical need.

“Gut microbiota is an untapped resource for the identification of novel targets in the field of metabolic diseases. It opens up new perspectives for the development of increasingly precise and personalized innovative therapies. The close collaboration between our researchers and academic researchers from Harvard represents a major step in this direction, for the ultimate benefit of patients,” stated Servier Group Executive Vice-President Research & Development, Claude Bertrand.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects over 25% of the world’s population. The condition, in which too much fat is stored in the liver, is very often linked to excess weight and/or type 2 diabetes. This, in turn, is due to the build-up of fatty acids and scar tissue, which can lead to steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis and, in some cases, to the development of liver cancer. Currently there are no therapies available to patients for this disease.

This collaboration is a project under the strategic alliance established between Servier and Harvard University in 2017. Under the terms of the alliance agreement, Servier will support multi-year research projects initiated by Harvard faculty and focused on the development of innovative treatments in its therapeutic fields of expertise. Servier selected this project through a call for proposals.

Servier has been involved in the research and development of innovative therapeutics against non-insulin diabetes (type 2 diabetes) for over 40 years. Identifying new therapeutic targets in this field is one of Servier’s priorities, as well as research of specific therapeutic solutions to diabetes-linked complications such as diabetic nephropathy or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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Pharmaceuticals

Manufacturing of late phase
Wuxi Sta forms Partnership with Beta Pharma

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Sta Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., (Wuxi Sta) – a subsidiary of Wuxi AppTec – and Beta Pharma, a biotech company focusing on innovative drug discovery and development in oncology, announce a strategic partnership. Under the terms of the collaboration, Wuxi Sta will become the preferred CDMO partner of Beta Pharma, leveraging its platform to accelerate process R&D and manufacturing of later phase and commercial production – utilizing the Marketing Authorization Holder (MAH) scheme.

Beta Pharma is an emerging specialty pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative late stage therapies targeting oncology.

The company has a pedigree spanning some 20 years and its founder Dr. Xiaodong Zhang even participated in the molecular invention, development and listing in China of the first small molecule targeted anticancer drug, Icotinib. Today, Beta Pharma continues to expand its pipeline to integrate anticancer drugs and therapies, such as biopharmaceuticals, into its long-term development planning.

In February 2019, Beta Pharma officially launched the China registered Phase II clinical trial for the target BPI-7711 – a third generation of EGFR TKI that has a highly selective inhibitory effect on T790M mutations and EGFR single mutant tumors after a generation of EGFR TKI resistance. The company also has another target, BPI-1178 undergoing preclinical research and it is expected to submit a clinical application in the first quarter of 2019.

Wuxi Sta was chosen as the strategic partner thanks to its industry leading “end-to-end” CMC platform for new drug development from preclinical to commercial – for both API and finished dosage forms – as well as its expertise and track record for meeting global quality standards.

“We’re delighted to partner with such a well-respected, world-class CDMO such as WuXi STA,” said Dr. Xiaodong Zhang, CEO of Beta Pharma. “Wuxi Sta’s enabling end-to-end CMC platform and efficient, flexible solutions that meet the timeliness of our clinical and commercial use, will enable us to advance our pipeline more quickly worldwide.”

“Our mission is to empower and accelerate customers to develop innovative drugs from clinical to commercial – faster and more efficiently. We are delighted to become the strategic partner of Beta Pharma and look forward to helping them advance their drug candidates towards the clinic, bringing innovative medicines for the benefit of patients around the world.”

Dr. Minzhang Chen, CEO of Wuxi Sta

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Conveying & Filling, Packaging, Labeling & Storage Fairs Pharmaceuticals Plant Construction, Engineering & Components

Feeder Design for the Pharmaceutical Industry
Feeding Solution for Demands of Processing

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Coperion K-Tron’s new QT20 and QT35 pharmaceutical feeders with redesigned trapezoid scale shape and significantly smaller footprint are optimized for multi-feeder clusters around a process inlet.
Coperion K-Tron’s new QT20 and QT35 pharmaceutical feeders with redesigned trapezoid scale shape and significantly smaller footprint are optimized for multi-feeder clusters around a process inlet. (Picture: Coperion K-Tron)

At this year’s Interphex as well as at Powtech Coperion K-Tron will display the next generation of its highly accurate, gravimetric K3-PH feeders for the pharmaceutical industry. These modular feeders have been specially designed to meet the growing demands of continuous processing. Thanks to the use of a smaller D4 platform scale incorporating the patented and highly accurate Smart Force Transducer (SFT) weighing technology, they require significantly less floor space compared to previous models. Depending on the process and requirements, several feeders can be grouped into a cluster, for example for continuous processes such as direct compression (CDC), extrusion, wet and dry granulation, and continuous coating as well as traditional batch processes.

Easy handling and better product quality

The modular design of this innovative feeder line simplifies cleaning and reduces changeover times. The “Quick Change” design, whereby the feeder bowl can be quickly decoupled from the feeder drive, also enables simple and fast product changes. By simply releasing two clamps, the used feeding unit can be removed and replaced with a clean one.

The three available Coperion K-Tron feeder types QT20, QT35 and QS60 (twin and single screw) can be used with the same scale and drive units. They are interchangeable, depending on the product to be fed, the required feed rates and the necessary scale resolution. For an optimal Wet-In-Place (WIP) result, every unit has an integral two degree pitch facilitating maximum drainage during the cleaning process. In addition, the feeder bowls and hoppers feature a new improved seal design for optimal product containment. The complete line of equipment is engineered to meet the rigid requirements of the pharmaceutical industry, including strict adherence to cGMP guidelines and standards as well as the use of FDA approved materials of construction. Initial industry reactions to the design include very positive comments on the use of a single gearbox for the complete speed ranges of all feeder models.

High-accuracy weighing with patented SFT technology

The new D4 platform scale features the same state-of-the-art sanitary design of the established Coperion K-Tron D5 scale. Smooth, crevice free surfaces prevent deposit of dust and product residue and enable easy cleaning. The redesign of the scale from a round design to a trapezoid design features a much smaller footprint and facilitates an optimized multi-feeder arrangement. This is especially useful in areas with limited space, where multiple ingredients must be fed into one process inlet. At the heart of the new D4 scale, Coperion K-Tron’s patented SFT single wire weighing technology provides a highly accurate weight signal with a resolution of 1:4,000,000 in 80 ms. The electronics include linearization, temperature compensation and a digital low-pass filter to reduce the effect of plant vibration. The 100% digital design eliminates the need for calibration.

Coperion at the Interphex 2019: Booth 2558

Coperion at the Powtech 2019: Hall 4, Booth 290

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