The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Expanding single-cell science in pediatrics

Single-cell biology could hold a key to solving the enigmatic childhood illness that continue to baffle pediatricians, writes Priscilla Chan, co-founder and co-CEO of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, in an op-ed for STAT. Researchers are already mapping out the intricacies of each unique human cell type, she points out, which could ultimately reveal the cellular mechanisms for disease. 

But the focus of single-cell science remains on conditions that affect adults, thanks to systemic barriers that impede pediatric research. This includes a dearth of funding for pediatric diseases, and limitations in access to tissue samples. The CZI, she writes, is supporting collaboration in this field — with aims to “eventually create and share an open-source reference map of all healthy pediatric tissues.” 

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Freenome CEO has quietly left

Liquid biopsy player Freenome has quietly swapped out its chief executive, STAT’s Matthew Herper writes — replacing cofounder Gabriel Otte with the company’s chief business officer, Mike Nolan. The company made no public announcement of the change — but Otte told STAT that he actually left “a while ago” and is on his first vacation in two years. 

The company has raised more than $508 million in venture financing, and is one of several high-profile biotechs developing blood tests to detect cancer by screening for free-floating genetic material or proteins. 

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A non-expert Covid-19 authority raises red flags 

Michael Levitt, a Stanford professor and a Nobel Laureate, has sought to cast himself as an unusual voice of authority in the Covid-19 pandemic. Though quite candid about not being an epidemiologist or an MD, the biophysicist has advised politicians (including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) about pandemic protocol for well over a year. 

But he’s frequently — and publicly — derided policies backed by most leading epidemiologists, calling them “politically correct,” STAT’s Eric Boodman writes. He disseminates many of his observations via Twitter, which “creates lots of problems when he’s tweeting something that may be misinformative,” one expert in infectious disease modeling told STAT. 

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G20 calling for collaboration to end pandemic 

The critical consensus from G20 leaders: It’s time to end the pandemic. That means that several drug makers, along with the leaders of some of the world’s wealthiest countries, will work together to make access to Covid-19 vaccines a little more equitable, STAT’s Ed Silverman writes. This includes issuing voluntary licenses to expand manufacturing, increasing vaccine donations for global distribution, and investing in production capacity in Africa. The G20 countries have agreed to work together to prevent and prepare for future pandemics.

“World leaders gave a strong message: Never again. We have learnt the lessons from the current crisis,” the European Commission president said after last week’s G20 meeting. “And we are determined to make Covid-19 the last pandemic.”

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More reads

  • Left out of SPAC pack, BioTheryX raises $92M in rare series E to hold over until potential end of year IPO. (FierceBiotech)
  • Vaccines' success could undercut Biden's multibillion-dollar school testing plans. (Politico)
  • CDC is investigating a heart problem in a few young vaccine recipients. (New York Times)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


Monday, May 24, 2021


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