19 Dec 2017   |   Network News

Amgen teams up with Cambridge biotech community to select two start-ups to receive golden tickets at LabCentral

Amgen golden tickets provide innovative start-up companies with free lab space to aid in further advancement of their science

Amgen and LabCentral today announced that Kernal Biologics Inc. and QurAlis have won the Amgen Golden Ticket at LabCentral. The two Golden Ticket winners were chosen by an Amgen internal committee and live audience members at a "Quick Pitch" event hosted by Amgen at its Cambridge R&D and Operations facility on Dec. 11, 2017. Five finalists pitched their business plan to attendees where the audiences' input represented one vote of the overall results, along with the Amgen internal committee's voting decision.

As one of LabCentral's platinum sponsors, Amgen can nominate up to two early-stage companies annually to take up residence in LabCentral's Kendall Squarefacilities in Cambridge, Mass. The Golden Ticket represents one year of bench space for one scientist, including benefit of LabCentral's shared infrastructure and services (such as conference rooms, permits, shared equipment and facilities, participation in LabCentral training modules and seminars). Amgen scientists also provide informal mentoring. LabCentral is a first-of-its-kind shared laboratory space designed as a launchpad for high-potential life sciences and biotech start-ups.

"The event captured the essence of why Amgen is committed to contributing to and collaborating in the Cambridge biotech ecosystem. Not only were we evaluating ideas from five very strong startup companies advancing innovative science right in our own backyard, but we could be joined by our industry colleagues with a diverse set of backgrounds to assess the best innovations to help bring forward," said John Dunlop, vice president of Neuroscience at Amgen. "Awarding the Golden Tickets to Kernal Biologics Inc. and QurAlis aligns with Amgen's ongoing research focus within oncology and neuroscience."

Kernal Biologics Inc. develops therapeutic messenger RNAs via deep learning for immuno-oncology applications. Kernal's unique methods of sequence engineering and smart design are intended to develop a technology platform that will dramatically improve the efficacy of existing mRNA technologies. 

"We are honored to be awarded with an Amgen Golden Ticket at LabCentral," said Yusef Erkul, M.D., president at Kernal Biologics Inc. "With Amgen's scientific guidance and LabCentral's innovative and supportive environment, this award will greatly enhance our research efforts to bring safe, tolerable and efficacious mRNA medicine to patients with acute myelogenous leukemia."

QurAlis develops precision medicine for treatment of patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). QurAlis is currently developing therapies for three different forms of ALS with known disease mechanisms which include: a transformative device to remove toxic proteins; a drug that mediates overactive neurons and prevents them from dying; and a drug that restores a dysfunctional waste clearance system in cells. Success with any of these therapies will have a tremendous impact on ALS patients and their families.

"We are extremely excited to win the Amgen Golden Ticket," said Kasper Roet, Ph.D., founder and chief executive officer at QurAlis. "The space and facilities at LabCentral will enable QurAlis to enhance our ALS patient-derived stem cell platform, which we will use in the development of all three of our therapeutic programs. It is also an incredible testament to our team, progress and potential for developing therapies for ALS patients."

In 2014, Amgen began sponsoring the Golden Ticket program with LabCentral to assist high-potential life sciences and biotech start-ups in their efforts to continue further research in advancing unique approaches to treatments for serious conditions. Amgen has awarded LabCentral Golden Tickets to five innovative start-ups: NovopyxisCocoon BiotechPlatelet BiogenesisHolobiome, and Torus Therapeutics.

This release was first published 14 December by Amgen.

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