Friday, December 8, 2017

The Readout by Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Welcome to The Readout, where we keep you on top of the latest in biotech. For more in-depth coverage of biopharma, subscribe to STAT Plus. On Twitter: @damiangarde@megkesh, and @statnews.

Sam Isaly is leaving OrbiMed

Sam Isaly, a legendary biotech investor and the leader of OrbiMed Advisors, is stepping down from the firm he founded following a barrage of sexual harassment allegations published by STAT.

OrbiMed's announcement, released Thursday night, came hours after STAT informed the firm that another woman had gone on the record with allegations against Isaly.

Meanwhile, some of OrbiMed's multibillion-dollar clients are re-evaluating their relationships with the hedge fund giant.

Read more.

The hand of God twisting a wrench to defuse a bomb in Photoshop ...

... is a visually disturbing amalgamation of ways people have tried to explain CRISPR, the gene-editing technology that has stoked waves of enthusiasm in science, sparked a crime novel, and reportedly inspired Jennifer Lopez's next television project. (It's also on the verge of being deployed in a pioneering clinical trial, as CRISPR Therapeutics plans to use the tech to try to cure beta thalassemia via gene editing.)

Where God and Photoshop come in is the unenviable process of trying to explain CRISPR in lay terms. Helpfully, STAT's Rebecca Robbins and Sharon Begley have done the labor of parsing a great many CRISPR analogies and ranking them, from the dull to the divine.

Read more.


Seven trends in clinical trial data

We’ve entered an unprecedented era of big data, where the world’s data volume doubles every two years! And this data explosion is just as apparent within clinical trials. Non-CRF data now represents 70 percent of clinical data and is growing 40 percent per year.

It’s hard to understate the potential change this will bring to clinical development, but how do you extract value from all of this? Seven key trends critical to clinical development teams have been identified.

We'd like to hear from you, too

The fallout from the #MeToo movement is resonating in all sectors — including, of course, biopharma. Has your workplace culture changed? If not, should it? 

Let us know here. 

These guys want to bring you a synthetic bug drug

Ginkgo Bioworks and Synlogic are joining forces to try to discover new genetically-engineered gut-based bugs to treat liver and neurological diseases, the Boston-area biotech startups announced this morning.

You may have heard of Ginkgo from its work using microbes to develop foods and fragrances. Now, Ginkgo is bringing that technology to the collaboration with Synlogic, which has several early-stage "living medicines" in the pipeline to treat metabolic diseases but wants to discover more.
So what's this partnership actually going to entail? JC Gutiérrez-Ramos, Synlogic’s president and CEO, walked us through the plan: First, they'll use bioinformatics to identify pathways that might be able to degrade harmful metabolites. Next, they'll use synthetic biology to generate corresponding genetic circuits on the computer. Then, they'll synthesize and transform thousands of bacteria so that each one of them has different genetic circuits. Finally, they'll put each bacterium in a well, expose them to toxic metabolites, and see what happens.

And you thought screening run-of-the-mill compounds is tricky.

Why no Ebola vaccine?

The world was momentarily thrown into chaos a couple years back when West Africa faced an Ebola crisis. Researchers around the globe raced to find and test experimental vaccines for the devastating virus. 

That pace has slackened, however, in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. While Russia and China have already approved vaccines for Ebola, the FDA will not likely license one until 2019 — nearly four years after a landmark trial showed that Merck’s V920 vaccine works in a Phase 3 trial.

The state of affairs underscores how vaccine development works in the U.S. — and how quickly Ebola has fallen from top priority. 

Read more. 

More reads

  • Sage’s new depression drug hits mark in clinical trial, though effects fade over time. (STAT Plus)
  • Roche thinks it can leap-frog its rivals in lung cancer. (Reuters)
  • Gilead Sciences and Kite to acquire Cell Design Labs. (Press release)
  • The biotech industry needs to pay more attention to women's health. (STAT)

Have a news tip or comment you want to send us?

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Thanks for reading! Until Monday,

Damian & Meghana

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