Recent life science news bites you may have missed

Recent life science news bites you may have missed

From Jen Heady, Vice President at Greenough Brand Storytellers

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Prime editing takes the spotlight

Just six years after Feng Zhang and George Church first harnessed the power of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome editing, WIRED magazine has already coined the term “classic CRISPR” to describe this now widely referenced genome editing approach. The term “classic” differentiates CRISPR-Cas9 from a hot new CRISPR technique: prime editing. While critics say prime editing may be less practical than existing methods, the number of new genome editing techniques and studies introduced over the last several years is a testament to the incredibly fast progression of science.

Read Megan Molteni’s coverage in WIRED

Check out the Broad Institute’s handy infographic explaining the prime editing process

For a history of CRISPR, visit the Broad Institute’s CRISPR timeline

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VC funding: It’s all about who you know

In her latest for STAT, Kate Sheridan covers how venture capital’s reliance on relationships is contributing to gender, racial and geographic disparities in the biotech space. What can be done to increase diversity? For entrepreneurs, the answer may be as simple as engaging with venture capitalists outside of your own network before launching a company. Bottom line: it’s still about who you know, but don’t limit your network to those in your current circle.

Read the full story

https://www.statnews.com/2019/10/31/social-connections-first-science-second/

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Inside scoop: A former Biogen employee on the company’s “shocking” Alzheimer’s news

Biogen made big headlines by announcing that it will submit aducanumab for FDA approval after halting a study on the Alzheimer’s drug earlier this year. Since the news dropped, journalists, Wall Street analysts and experts have speculated on how the company could have reinterpreted the data so drastically. As a former Biogen employee who “worked on and around aducanumab,” Ted Whitford writes that Biogen hasn’t been afraid to admit failures in the past, and that he hopes the company made a mistake in its earlier analysis. “But if it didn’t,” writes Whitford, “and this is another example of the American public watching big pharma trying to spin bad data, then I can’t help but wonder if Biogen, and perhaps the industry has lost its way.” One thing is certain: all eyes will be on Biogen next time it announces data on the buzzworthy drug. 

Read Ted Whitford’s “First Opinion” piece for STAT

 

Recent life science news bites you may have missed

Recent life science articles you may have missed

Recent news bites you may have missed

9/25/19

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Move over, biologics. Still room for innovation around the daily pill.

A new study shows that a cheap, daily pill that combines low doses of three blood pressure drugs with a cholesterol drug can lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol. While the 300-person study did not last long enough to measure heart attacks or strokes, a larger five-year study in Iran found that the pill lowered the danger of heart attack, stroke or heart failure by a third. In other countries, the pill has been used to treat heart conditions in places with limited access to medical care – a model the researchers believe could be replicated among vulnerable patient populations in the United States.

Read more on the findings

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Expanding access to clinical trials

In a deep dive on cancer clinical trials, Biopharma Dive reports some cancer centers have encountered challenges filling available trials and say there are more open than necessary, creating an “economic drain” on institutions. One of the problems? The bulk of studies are conducted at large academic medical centers. Eric Rubin, vice president of global clinical oncology at Merck Research Laboratories, suggests bringing more clinical trials to community sites could help make them more accessible and efficient.

Read the full story

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ICER plays “the price is right”

ICER claims to assess a drug’s “intrinsic value to patients,” but determining a drug’s value to any one individual patient who might benefit is far more subjective. According to a recent article in Managed Healthcare Executive, “the value ICER brings to the discussion is providing clarity around where treatments work and where there’s uncertainty.” While it’s positive to see an increased focus on patient outcomes, putting a price on a treatment’s worth won’t magically clear up the reimbursement controversy.

Read the full story

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CAR T primer

For a simple explainer and graphic on CAR T-cell therapies, check out Dana Farber’s blog:

https://blog.dana-farber.org/insight/2019/09/car-t-cell-therapy-for-pediatric-patients-the-latest-updates/

Recent life science articles you may have missed

Recent life science articles you may have missed

From Jen Heady, Vice President at Greenough Brand Storytellers


Flag thrown on DTC genetic testing

Two years ago, 23andme proudly announced that the FDA would allow it to market its Personal Genome Service Genetic Health Risk (GHR) tests for 10 diseases or conditions, the first such approval for a direct to consumer genetic test. Fast forward to today: increasingly, consumers look to genetic tests for health insights, despite warnings from testing companies that findings shouldn’t be treated as medical diagnoses. In a recent article for The Guardian, Hannah Devlin writes that doctors are seeing an influx of patients bringing in results indicating false positives for cancer and other diseases, making a strong case for increased regulation.

Read the full story in The Guardian


DTC genetic testing, round 2

Consumer access to genetic test results – combined with increased adoption of next-generation sequencing in clinical settings – is leading to errors in ordering and interpretation of genetic tests, according to new research in the July/August edition of The Cancer Journal. But don’t throw the test results out with the bath water. According to the study authors, when a genetic counselor is involved the chance of error is greatly reduced. They recommend improving education for healthcare professionals, lifting policy barriers and investing in non-traditional genetic counseling delivery methods for more accurate test ordering and analysis.

Read GenomeWeb’s coverage on the findings


Coverage for CAR T

Good news in cancer care: CMS announced Medicare will cover CAR T-cell therapy without the previous requirement for evidence development, which put the burden on hospitals to collect and report data on patient outcomes to ensure coverage. Also new, Medicare will now cover CAR T therapy in outpatient settings, which could greatly reduce the cost of care for patients undergoing treatment. Will private insurers follow suit? The jury is still out.

Read more from The Washington Post


Stop the stigma

Despite evidence that medications to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) are safe and effective, in 2017 80% of people who needed treatment did not receive it. NPR recently tackled the issue in a story on lack of access to buprenorphine, an FDA-approved drug that improves outcomes and saves lives in patients with OUD. Barriers to access include too few medical providers to write prescriptions as well as pharmacists unwilling to fill prescriptions for people who need them. Unfortunately, for a sick patient in withdrawal, heroin or fentanyl can be far easier and faster to obtain – cheaply – than medication-assisted treatment.

Read the full story from NPR, WHYY and Kaiser Health News