Despite challenges, experts predict gene therapy market will continue to grow

At the recent event “A Look Ahead at Biotech in 2020,” experts commented on the challenges ahead for the field of gene therapy. As Alex Philippidis reports for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, new payment models are needed to provide clarity around reimbursements for new treatments. From a science perspective, the panel raised the concern that some genes are too large to be packed into vectors and infused into patients. And while manufacturers are making progress building new facilities or partnering with CDMOs to create capacity to keep up with demand, manufacturing bottlenecks remain a challenge.

Despite the hurdles, the experts are bullish. “The fact that we’re talking about curing some of these diseases that are really horrible diseases, fatal, in kids often, it’s pretty remarkable when you think about it,” said STAT reporter Adam Feuerstein.

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One pill, once a month

Researchers have long tried to merge the benefits of long-acting contraceptives with the convenience of an oral pill, Megan Molteni writes for WIRED. Several years ago, scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and MIT began testing a once-a-month oral birth control pill that could have broad appeal not only for the millions of women who take daily birth control pills, but also for women in developing countries who currently don’t have access to reliable family planning options. That’s what Boston-biotech Lyndra Therapeutics hopes to accomplish with its development program to bring the once-monthly oral contraceptive out of the lab and into the hands of women worldwide.  

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“Anti-Theranos” gets FDA approval for blood test

Forbes contributor Peter Cohan contends that Israeli startup Sight Diagnostics is well-positioned to take on industry heavy-weight Sysmex, a $2.7B Japanese manufacturer of blood testing machines, and centralized testing labs such as LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics with its now FDA-approved OLO analyzer. “Unlike Theranos – the defunct Palo Alto company that claimed it could conduct over 200 blood tests from a single drop of blood – Sight’s product has been vetted by scientists,” he writes. The technology is backed by clinical researchers who say its performance is comparable to bigger, more complicated analyzers. Cohan predicts OLO will see initial update in small clinics and hospital departments but sees potential for Sight Diagnostics to corner a larger pocket of the market.

Read the Forbes column.