Esco Ventures Pte. Ltd., of Singapore, said it launched Carmine Therapeutics Pte. Ltd. and executed an exclusive license agreement for technology developed in the laboratories of Minh Le and Jiahai Shi, professors at the City University of Hong Kong, who were named scientific co-founders of the company along with Harvey Lodish, founding member of the Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and serial biotech entrepreneur. Carmine raised $3.4 million in seed funding in an oversubscribed round led by Esco and joined by undisclosed investors. Carmine is said to be developing gene therapies that use extracellular vesicles produced from red blood cells (RBCs). Referred to as RBCEVs, the homogeneous, 150-nm vesicles also are produced physiologically by RBCs as they age. Esco said Carmine plans to focus on the areas of hematology, oncology and immunology and will seek to establish a site in Cambridge, Mass., by year-end.

Edigene Corp., of Tokyo, said its corporate name was changed to Modalis Therapeutics Corp. to better reflect its emerging gene modulation technology, known as CRISPR-GNDM.

Proteona Pte. Ltd., of Singapore, said it agreed to participate in AI Singapore's 100 Experiments program, which aims to solve challenges in single cell data analysis using artificial intelligence tools. A spin-off from the National University of Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Proteona uses DNA barcoded antibodies to provide both proteomic and genomic information from the same single cells. The company's in-house annotated datasets and Escape RNA-Seq technology will be used in the collaboration.

Sanofi SA, of Paris, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., said the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware ruled in their favor in the ongoing patent dispute with Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., invalidating Amgen's claims that antibodies targeting proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9, or PCSK9, are invalid based on lack of enablement. The ruling overturned portions of a February jury verdict that upheld the validity of three Amgen claims while finding in favor of Sanofi and Regeneron on two other claims. With the District Court ruling, Sanofi and Regeneron said they invalidated the five asserted Amgen claims. The companies have contested for five years whether the Sanofi/Regeneron cholesterol drug Praluent (alirocumab) infringes Amgen's patent claims for antibodies targeting PCSK9 that underlie its competing product Repatha (evolocumab). In 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sent the case back to the district court in Delaware for a retrial. (See BioWorld, Oct. 6, 2017.)

Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co. Ltd., of Osaka, said it agreed to invest up to $25 million in Remiges Biopharma Fund II, a venture fund created by Remiges Ventures Inc., marking Sumitomo's second investment in a fund created by Remiges. Additional terms were not disclosed.

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