SINGAPORE and LOS ANGELES, Feb. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- ImaginAb, Inc. today announced that it has entered into a partnership with the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore (Duke-NUS) to establish a joint corporate laboratory to develop new in vivo molecular imaging agents to study cancer biology and immune function. ImaginAb is a U.S. clinical-stage company that develops in vivo molecular imaging agents based on a proprietary antibody fragment technology platform. ImaginAb's mission is to transform the clinical management of cancer and autoimmune diseases via targeted molecular imaging.
Under the terms of the agreement, the parties will establish protein engineering and molecular imaging capabilities designed to interface with Duke-NUS's "Signature Research Programs" (SRPs) in cancer & stem cell biology, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, neurobiology and immunology. The new facilities will also be used to support ImaginAb's R&D activities.
Termed the "Imaging Biomarker Development Lab" (IBDL), the joint laboratory is the latest initiative under the National Research Foundation (NRF) Corp Lab @ University scheme. The IBDL program represents a $15 million commitment between ImaginAb, Duke-NUS and the NRF. The laboratory will also be accessible to industry and academic collaborators with the objective of developing precision medicine strategies for the treatment of cancer and immune-mediated diseases.
"We are pleased to welcome ImaginAb to Duke-NUS. We have high expectations that molecular imaging will become a key facet of precision medicine and has the potential to significantly advance our existing disease biology and biomarker platforms," noted Prof. Patrick Casey, Senior Vice Dean (Research) of Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. "Joint industry-academic partnerships can add tremendous value to research programs, infrastructure and create new learning opportunities. Both ImaginAb and Duke-NUS have many international biopharma collaborators that are also keen to access these new capabilities," he added.
The IBDL will incorporate several specialty core facilities designed to operate in an integrated fashion with Duke-NUS' existing research services. The IBDL will uniquely feature a state-of-the-art molecular imaging facility, operating within Duke-NUS's Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) space, an invaluable resource for immunology-based research.
"The IBDL is a significant addition to ImaginAb's translational research capabilities in cancer and immunology", stated Dr. Anna Wu, co-founder and Chief Scientist of ImaginAb. "Through the IBDL collaboration, we can develop and validate new molecular imaging probes in a pathogen-free environment. This should support significant research in cancer immunology – including cell therapies – and inflammatory diseases, all of which require very sophisticated models and a highly controlled research setting. The fact that the joint lab with Duke-NUS is located on the vibrant Singapore General Hospital biomedical sciences campus, 100 meters from a Phase I unit and in close proximity to world-class clinical facilities, is particularly exciting."
Prof Low Teck Seng, the chief executive of NRF, said: "This latest Corp Lab @ University collaboration brings together the antibody engineering expertise of ImaginAb and biologics research capabilities in Singapore universities and research institutes. The new facility opens up opportunities for scientists here and strengthens Singapore's position in the pharmaceutical value chain."
Dr. Christian Behrenbruch, co-founder and CEO of ImaginAb commented, "The creation of IBDL with our partner, Duke-NUS, represents the strategic consolidation of our company's pre-clinical imaging and IND-enabling activity in Singapore. It is also an opportunity to access high-quality biological resources relevant to Asia-centric patient populations, of growing interest to our company. ImaginAb has been collaborating and conducting important development work in Singapore for several years and we have been extremely impressed by the quality of research infrastructure and human capital. We particularly appreciate the support of the NRF to establish this unique laboratory."
The Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore (Duke-NUS) was established in 2005 as a strategic collaboration between the Duke University School of Medicine, located in North Carolina, USA and the National University of Singapore (NUS). Duke-NUS offers a graduate entry, 4-year M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) training program based on the unique Duke model of education, with one year dedicated to independent study and research projects of a basic science or clinical nature. Duke-NUS also offers M.D/PhD and PhD programs. As a player in Singapore's biomedical community, Duke-NUS has identified five Signature Research Programs: Cancer & Stem Cell Biology, Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorders, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Disorders, and Health Services and Systems Research.
Duke-NUS and SingHealth, Singapore's largest public healthcare group, have established a strategic partnership in academic medicine that will guide and promote the future of medicine, tapping on and combining the collective strengths of SingHealth's clinical expertise and Duke-NUS' biomedical sciences research and medical education capabilities.
For more information, please visit www.duke-nus.edu.sg
About ImaginAb's "ImmunoPET" Immunology Initiative
ImaginAb's antibody-based imaging technology is the ideal platform to image immune function in vivo using highly sensitive positron emission tomography (PET). ImaginAb has re-engineered monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against targets expressed by a variety of important immune cell classes, such as activated T-cells, cytotoxic T-cells, B-cells and macrophages, into radiolabeled fragments that can be used to monitor immune response with remarkable sensitivity. The use of PET enables immune response to be observed on a whole body basis, including lymphoid organ activity and immune cell activity at the site of disease, achieving what conventional methods, including tissue biopsy and blood sampling cannot.
ImaginAb has several strategic immunology imaging collaborations with global pharmaceutical companies developing novel therapeutics against important classes of targets such as checkpoint inhibitors and cytokine antagonists. ImaginAb's "immunoPET" technology also has significant application potential in the increasingly important field of cell therapies.
ImaginAb is redefining therapeutic management by harnessing the power of antibody technology for in vivo imaging. The company's proprietary antibody fragment platform yields actionable molecular information to guide treatment decisions in cancer and immunology. ImaginAb also collaborates with select biopharmaceutical partners to design imaging agents as companion diagnostics for therapeutic antibodies. ImaginAb's technology is positioned to deliver on the promise of precision medicine by improving patient outcomes and reducing the cost of healthcare.
For more information, visit www.imaginab.com.
National Research Foundation, Prime Minister's Office, Singapore
The National Research Foundation (NRF), set up on 1 January 2006, is a department within the Prime Minister's Office. The NRF sets the national direction for research and development (R&D) by developing policies, plans and strategies for research, innovation and enterprise. It also funds strategic initiatives and builds up R&D capabilities by nurturing research talent. The NRF aims to transform Singapore into a vibrant R&D hub that contributes towards a knowledge-intensive, innovative and entrepreneurial economy; and make Singapore a talent magnet for scientific and innovation excellence.
The Corp Lab @ University scheme, launched in March 2013, seeks to strengthen Singapore's innovation system by supporting public-private R&D collaboration between universities and industries. It encourages universities to work alongside companies on programmes that have direct relevance for the industry, thus facilitating the effective translation of laboratory work for the marketplace. The Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Lab and the Keppel-NUS Corporate laboratory were launched under this scheme last year.
For more information, please visit www.research.gov.sg
SOURCE ImaginAb, Inc.