The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Vir and GSK join Covid-19 antibody race 

Vir Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline are starting a study of an antibody drug aimed at treating Covid-19, STAT’s Matthew Herper writes. The trial is recruiting 1,300 patients who have early symptomatic infection, and will test whether VIR-7831 can stave off hospitalization. 

The Vir-GSK collaboration is lagging several months behind other efforts to develop antibody treatments for Covid-19. But Vir CEO George Scangos told STAT that the companies expect the antibody could have advantages over those developed by Regeneron and Eli Lilly/AbCellera. He thinks VIR-7831 might help better neutralize the virus, and activate the immune system to attack infected cells.

“Obviously we're moving as fast as we can,” said GSK's chief scientific officer, Hal Barron. “I'm the first to say every day matters. But it's really important to make sure you have an understanding of a medicine that would get approval in terms of benefits and risks.”

Read more.

Nestle acquires maker of peanut allergy treatment

The food conglomerate Nestle announced this morning that it would acquire Aimmune Therapeutics, maker of a peanut allergy treatment, for $2.6 billion, STAT's Adam Feuerstein reports.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Aimmune's Palforzia in February, and the company believed it could deliver annual sales exceeding $1 billion. The coronavirus pandemic has stymied those plans, with shutdowns making it difficult if not impossible for patients to visit allergists’ offices.

Nestle, for its part, is seeking to expand its health sciences unit.

Read more.

Questioning the EUA for remdesivir

The FDA announced late Friday that it had expanded the emergency use authorization for Gilead Sciences' remdesivir to treat Covid-19 — allowing it to be used, now, in patients who have been hospitalized with the virus, but do not require oxygen supplementation. 

A JAMA paper last week pointed out that patients with moderate Covid-19 given a five-day course of the antiviral had a “statistically significantly better clinical status” compared to those receiving standard care at 11 days after treatment. However, “the difference was of uncertain clinical importance,” the study concluded. 

An accompanying JAMA editorial said that several questions remain regarding the efficacy of remdesivir. It points out that we still don’t know what the optimal patient population is for receiving the drug — nor do we know the optimal duration for therapy. And it’s still unknown how much of an additional benefit remdesivir can provide over corticosteroids, which are widely available and far less expensive.

Diabetes drugs reduce severe heart failure events

The diabetes drug Jardiance, or empagliflozin, dramatically cut the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with heart failure and reduced ejection, a new study in NEJM shows. The drug, which is from Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly, seemed to work in patients with and without diabetes. 

The data were presented during a virtual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology Congress. This is the second clinical trial to show that next-gen diabetes drugs have important cardiovascular benefits for patients with heart failure: Last year, AstraZeneca’s glucose-reducing drug Farxiga also was shown to help reduce cardiovascular events in heart failure patients. 

Will politics dictate Covid-19 vaccine use?

A huge swath of Americans seem to worry that a Covid-19 vaccine approval will be driven more by politics than science, a new survey from STAT and the Harris Poll shows. The sentiment was bipartisan: 72% of Republicans surveyed, and 82% of Democrats, expressed these worries, STAT’s Ed Silverman writes

The survey also found that 46% of the public trusts the White House to provide accurate information about Covid-19 vaccine development — though this varies dramatically based on political affiliation. Although only 28% of Democrats believe Trump, 71% seem to take his word on the issue. 

Read more.

More reads

  • Nearly a year since opening its doors, here’s how Verily’s addiction medicine campus is taking shape. (STAT
  • Novartis' inclisiran cuts bad cholesterol by 30%. (FierceBiotech)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


Monday, August 31, 2020


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