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The following post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga.
With over 1,000 biotech companies calling the Greater Boston area home, the Massachusetts capital has become the world’s top biotech hub, generating some of the most innovative developments in the manufacturing of treatments and diagnostics.
Some factors behind Boston’s emergence include its proximity to Harvard Medical School, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Massachusetts General Hospital, and other leading academic institutions. Companies drawn in by the potential to tap into this vast pool of scientific minds choose to stay to gain access to the generous public and private funding of the biotech industry.
With 5 of the nation’s 6 leading National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded hospitals, the state boasts the highest per-capita government funding in the country. On top of government dollars, biotech companies headquartered in the area have already raised $4.3 billion in venture capital in the first half of 2021 alone, putting the industry on target to exceed the $5.8 billion raised in 2020 and reflecting the rapid growth of investor interest in biotech.
Here are some of Boston’s leading biotech companies and the innovations they’ve been able to achieve thanks to this access to generous investments and some of the world’s top scientists.
Moderna’s mRNA Technology Helps Fight COVID-19 Pandemic
Founded in 2010, Moderna, Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA) set out to develop vaccines based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. Using modified mRNA coated in lipid nanoparticles, Moderna’s vaccine candidates can prompt a cell’s immune response without the need for a viral vector (a deactivated sample or an extracted piece of the virus).
Traditional vaccines, like the one from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), require a viral vector, which means manufacturers need to grow large amounts of the virus and then weaken it or extract critical pieces to render it harmless. This process works but it’s time-consuming, expensive, and requires facilities to be equipped with the right materials and tech to manufacture these vaccines.
With mRNA vaccines, like Moderna’s now well-known COVID-19 vaccine, the lipid-coated mRNA can be synthetically produced in a way that doesn’t require growing the live virus in large, dedicated facilities. The mRNA itself is not contagious and poses no risk of infection. This makes it safer and faster to produce at the scale needed to, say, combat a global pandemic.
Pressure BioSciences Improves Bioavailability Across Multiple Nutrients and Treatments
Pressure BioSciences, Inc. (OTCQB: PBIO) is a leading developer of breakthrough pressure-based technology with applications in biotherapeutics, nutraceuticals, agriculture, food and beverage, and many other industries. The company’s patented Ultra Shear Technology™ (UST™) uses a precision-controlled high-pressure system to create water-soluble, highly absorbable oil/water nanoemulsions of nutrients, therapeutics, and many other compounds that the human body typically cannot absorb effectively.
Low absorption rates of many oil-based compounds make it difficult to identify the exact dosing needed to get the desired health benefits. It also means developers have to use higher (excess) quantities of the active ingredient to offer any health benefit at all, driving up the cost of production and the cost to the consumer.
With PBI’s UST platform, oil drops containing astaxanthin, CBD, retinol, prednisone, and other compounds are broken down into nano-sized oil droplets that are so small, they effectively become water-soluble. With such a large surface area, the human body can now absorb the active ingredient out of the oil droplets as easily as it does water-soluble nutrients. The resulting nanoemulsion can be infused into food, beverages, skincare products, or nutritional supplements — requiring a fraction of the active ingredient and offering significantly more predictability in dosing. In effect, PBI has found a way to unlock the potential of a broad class of compounds that researchers and developers have struggled to increase the body’s access to for decades.
Akouos, Inc. Offers Advanced Treatment Options to Underserved Hearing Impaired Patients
Akouos, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKUS) is a precision genetic medicine company working to provide gene therapy solutions for hearing loss patients who currently suffer from a lack of meaningful treatments or advancements in the space.
An estimated 466 million people around the globe suffer from hearing loss, ranging from complete deafness to mild hearing impairments to age-related hearing loss. Currently, the only treatments available to these patients include highly invasive surgical procedures or hearing aids.
Akouos’s therapy candidates rely on gene therapy technology that targets sensory cells and supporting cells in the ear to potentially offer long-term restoration of hearing in patients. Rather than a permanent implant or the need to continuously use a hearing aid, Akouos’s gene therapy would be a one-time treatment, via minimally invasive surgery that delivers the proprietary protein formula directly into the ear.
When administered, preclinical results suggest that it can reactivate the ear’s ability to release the auditory neurons that carry sound information to the brain, effectively restoring the ability to hear and process sound.
The preceding post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga. Although the piece is not and should not be construed as editorial content, the sponsored content team works to ensure that any and all information contained within is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge and research. This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to be investing advice.
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