Invenra Enters Collaboration Agreement With Merck

Invenra today announced a collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, to discover fully human therapeutic antibodies against an unnamed target of interest to Merck.  Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are excited to be working with this first rate team in Merck,” said Dr. Roland Green, CEO of Invenra.  “Invenra’s ability to test antibodies for a functional phenotype early in the screening process combined with Merck’s established role as a leader in this field will advance the science regarding difficult to address targets.  This collaboration marks a significant milestone for Invenra in its mission to advance the field of antibody discovery through its ultra-high throughput mAbSeq™ technology.”

Read more at PRNewswire.

Swallow Solutions Gulps Down $700K to Develop Thickened Beverages

Seventeen investors participated in the funding round, according to an SEC filing. The company has raised nearly $4.9 million since launching in 2009, says Eric Horler, president and CEO of Swallow Solutions.

Horler says that his company plans to use most of the money raised in the latest funding round to continue developing thickened beverages for patients with dysphagia—a difficulty swallowing often caused by weak mouth and throat muscles—and other conditions. Each year, about 4 percent of U.S. adults experience swallowing problems, according to a 2014 study.

Swallow Solutions’ beverages would be available for over-the-counter purchase, Horler says, rather than ordered for patients through a prescription. He says his company is still deciding how it would market and distribute the drinks. Most producers of thickened beverages for dysphagia patients sell through large food distributors such as Sysco (NYSE: SYY) and US Foods (NYSE: USFD). Swallow Solutions could elect to go a similar route, or work directly with retailers like Walgreens to put the beverages on store shelves, Horler says.


Invenra Appoints Anu Hoey Vice President, Corporate Development

Invenra has tapped veteran business development executive Anu Hoey to oversee its pipeline of immuno-oncology bispecific antibodies and strategic partnerships with antibody drug makers looking to win the race to market using Invenra’s high-throughput screening technologies, which simultaneously assess antibody binding and biological function in cell-based assays, instead of performing these activities sequentially, as other screening systems do.

The company today announced that Ms. Hoey has been appointed vice president of corporate development to lead business strategy for a Treg-depleting bispecific and an effector T cell-recruiting bispecific, two Invenra drugs entering preclinical trials. Ms. Hoey also will develop strategy for several other bispecifics in the lead-generation stage.

In addition to strategy for Invenra’s bispecific pipeline, Ms. Hoey will expand alliances with other antibody drug makers seeking to employ Invenra’s B-Body™ bispecific antibody format and mAbSeq™ antibody lead-generation platform to gain an advantage over competitors.


Phoenix Nuclear Labs signs deal to slice silicon panels for solar panel manufacturer

Phoenix Nuclear Labs, Monona, has been saying its technology is cutting-edge. Now, the company can prove it.

Phoenix has signed a long-term contract with Rayton Solar, a Santa Monica, California, company that plans to use Phoenix’s proton accelerators to help make solar panels.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In traditional manufacturing of solar panels, Rayton Solar says, diamond wire saws are used to cut thin layers of silicon, leaving wasted silicon sawdust.

Using Phoenix’s proton accelerators, high-current ion beams can produce thin silicon slices with no waste, the company says. That’s done by embedding protons into the silicon, heating it at a specific depth. The top layer pulls off the surface, creating a sheet of silicon that is one-twentieth the width of a human hair.

“We are capable of making up to 100 times as many solar panels with the same amount of silicon that our competitors use to make just one panel,” Rayton Solar CEO Andrew Yakub said. “Implementing this new manufacturing process will represent a revolutionary step for the solar industry.”

Phoenix is scheduled to deliver the first system by the end of 2017, with several additional units expected in 2018 and 2019, the company said.


PNL to supply Rayton Solar with technology for low cost solar panel production

Phoenix Nuclear Labs (PNL) has signed a long-term agreement to be the exclusive supplier of high current proton accelerators to California-based Rayton Solar to produce low cost, high efficiency solar panels. Under the terms of the agreement, PNL will deliver the first system to Rayton at the end of 2017, followed by several additional units in 2018 and 2019.

Rayton Solar has developed a technique that they expect will reduce the cost of solar panel manufacturing and increase energy efficiency. “We are capable of making up to 100 times as many solar panels with the same amount of silicon that our competitors use to make just one panel,” said Rayton Solar CEO Andrew Yakub. “The high current, high voltage proton accelerator developed by PNL is critical for our process, and we are thrilled to have them onboard as a long-term partner.”

Read more at PR Newswire.

Invenra and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute Enter Collaboration

Invenra, Inc., a pre-clinical stage bio-pharmaceutical company focused on next-generation therapeutic human antibodies, bispecifics and antibody derivatives, and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute (“QIMR Berghofer”), one of Australia’s largest, fully integrated biomedical research and development centres today announced a collaboration to identify and characterize a panel of fully human therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against a novel target that QIMR Berghofer has identified.

Read more at BusinessWire.

ParqEx Raises More than $1M

ParqEx, the Chicago-based company that lets people rent out their private parking spots, has raised more than $1 million, the company said.

The 2-year-old company said investors in the round include Venture Management and Wisconsin Investment Partners, both based in Madison, Wis., where ParqEx formally expanded its service earlier this month. It also said it received funding from participating in two accelerators, $90,000 from Gener8tor in Milwaukee, and $20,000 from Elmspring in Chicago.

Founder Vivek Mehra, who serves as ParqEx’s CEO and CTO, said he wants people to see his company as an “Airbnb for parking.”

Unlike other Chicago-based parking-booking services ParkWhiz and SpotHero — which let people prepay for spots in commercial lots and garages, often at a discount — Mehra said his service focuses on private parking spaces.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

Sitka Salmon Plans for Growth

Sitka Salmon Shares continues to grow.

The business is expanding into a larger warehouse section of the Sustainable Business Center, 2900 W. Main St. It is one of the businesses that operates out of the SBC, and has a retail office in downtown Galesburg, 109 S. Cherry St.

Sitka Salmon President Nic Mink said a freezer that can hold 100,000 pounds of fish will be operating early next year, which is five times larger than the current freezer at the SBC.

Currently the company has about 4,000 members, or customers who receive five pounds of fish delivered to their door in a vacuum-sealed container with recipes and a newsletter on where the fish came from monthly. The new freezer will allow the company to grow to between 5,000 and 10,000 members.


Silatonix Looks to Make “Exploding Phones” a Thing of the Past

It’s been a no good, very bad month for Samsung: The Korean electronics company has been forced to discontinue its hotly anticipated line of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after widespread battery failures caused the devices to catch fire.

One thing that can happen is that a thin, paperlike barrier inside of the battery that keeps the positive and negative electrodes from touching may get punctured. The other way a battery can fail is if a buildup of carbon dioxide occurs due to high internal temperatures. That can cause the battery to swell up within its hermetically sealed casing.

Hamers said Silatronix had initially been pitching an electrolyte to manufacturers that was rich enough in the organosilicons that it rendered a lithium battery totally inflammable. However, companies weren’t sold on the product, since it necessitated a trade-off in terms of battery life.

The product that Silatronix is now pushing is a compromise of sorts: It doesn’t totally eliminate the flammability risk, but it does mitigate it. Plus, there’s an upside that’s grabbed the attention of battery manufacturers.

“There’s actually an increase in performance — you can have higher temperatures, but no risk of a gassing problem,” said Hamers.

It’s a class of compounds, he said, that’s “unlike anything that anyone has used before.”

Hamers said that Silatronix is in the process of testing its product with all of the major battery manufacturers in the world right now. The dragon to slay after that, he said, will be introducing the safer lithium ion batteries to the world on a major scale, in some sort of major consumer product.


MVI Early Findings From MVI-118 Clinical Trial Selected for Presentation

Madison Vaccines Incorporated (MVI), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, says initial analysis of the first 13 patients enrolled in the MVI-118 clinical trial shows acceptable safety and tolerability, and enhanced patient immune response to the AR antigen encoded by the vaccine. The human androgen receptor is the critical biological target that drives the progression of prostate cancer and, in many cases, is responsible for the resistance to current therapies. MVI-118 is being developed to prolong the duration of disease control gained from standard hormone deprivation therapies. The findings will be presented at the annual Prostate Cancer Foundation Scientific Retreat, October 27, in Carlsbad, CA, just north of San Diego.