Sunbird Bio snaps up Glympse Bio for protein-based diagnostics

Glympse Bio, developer of an injectable diagnostic platform, has been acquired by Sunbird Bio, which plans to point the companies’ resources toward a new blood test for Alzheimer’s disease.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Sunbird will claim Glympse’s former office space in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as its new U.S. base of operations while maintaining its headquarters in Singapore.

Glympse, a former Fierce Medtech Fierce 15 winner, had put forward an innovative method of examining hidden diseases: injecting a patient with nanoparticles designed to interact with specific proteins linked to certain conditions and then collecting them for analysis on their way out of the body.

The company previously set nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, the fatty liver disease known as NASH, as its primary target, and had signed development deals with drugmakers working in the space, such as Gilead Sciences. Glympse also presented early data last year showing its synthetic biomarkers could be tuned to spot early cases of liver cancer. 

While Glympse’s early-stage oncology research is still listed as part of the pipeline, the spotlight of the new protein-focused diagnostic company will be on Sunbird’s work in Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.

Using technology developed at the National University of Singapore, Sunbird’s APEX platform aims to provide a cheaper method of catching the small clumps of beta amyloid proteins floating within easy-to-take blood samples. A 2019 paper published in Nature Communications showed its plaque-profiling approach, employing optical sensors, could correlate with gold-standard PET imaging of the brain.

“I am excited about the synergies and opportunities created by the integration of our two innovative companies—particularly the impact our combined diagnostic offerings could have on accelerating clinical research and the availability of new treatments for patients suffering from serious diseases,” Sunbird CEO John McDonough said in a statement

“The APEX and Glympse platforms have the potential to dramatically improve standards of care for many diseases by overcoming the inaccessibility, invasiveness, and lack of reliability associated with current diagnostic approaches that limit their usefulness in drug development, disease detection, disease monitoring, and personalized treatment selection,” McDonough added.

Advancements this year in treatments for Alzheimer’s have kicked off a gold rush in new diagnostics for the disease—especially in blood tests, which aim to have the greatest commercial reach when compared to advanced brain scans or other potentially invasive procedures.

In the past few months—following the FDA’s granting of full approval to Biogen and Eisai’s Leqembi antibody treatment—companies such as Quest Diagnostics, C2N Diagnostics and Quanterix have begun to pitch their beta-amyloid-detecting blood tests to the masses.

Beckman Coulter, meanwhile, inked a blood test development partnership with Tokyo-based Fujirebio, which previously nabbed an FDA green light for an in vitro Alzheimer’s test based on cerebrospinal fluid.