Monday, December 4, 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.

Will keeping it real go wrong?

If you're about to endure a panel discussion at a pharma conference, there are perhaps no words more welcome than "Dr. Leonard Schleifer."

That's because the founder and CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has never been much for corporatespeak, industrial rah-rahs, or backslapping odes to the awesome goodness of pharma. He calls out his peers when he thinks they've sinned, and it makes for refreshing viewing (not to mention good copy).

But is there a risk that his tell-it-like-is schtick might come to get him in trouble? Analysts say it's all well and good to take the high road, but the realities of business may one day paint Regeneron into a corner — one that could require Schleifer to dig into the industrial bag of tricks he so eloquently decries.

Read more on STAT Plus.

Talking CAR-T (again) at ASH

Per usual, CAR-T will command the most attention at this year’s American Society of Hematology confab. But it's no longer just a theoretical topic: two CAR-T products — Kymriah from Novartis and Yescarta from Gilead Sciences — are actually on the market. 

So the conversation has shifted. New questions to be addressed include the long-term durability of the therapies, and whether they can treat a broader swath of patients. 

Tune in at 1 p.m. ET today to get an in-depth preview of what’s in store at ASH in a live chat with Adam Feuerstein. Bring your questions. 

Read more. 

Sponsor content by AI Applications Summit

Healthcare ecosystem stakeholders come together at AI Applications Summit

The AI Applications Summit (Dec 11-12, Royal Sonesta Boston) leaves no holds barred, with use cases and practical applications from Merck, Vertex, Berg, Dana-Farber, GSK, Boston Children’s Hospital, Pfizer, EMD Serono, MD Anderson and more. Join early adopters and stakeholders who are willing to openly discuss their experiences with overcoming obstacles and realizing the opportunities of implementing AI technologies right now. Register today!

Breakthroughs are duly honored

This year's Breakthrough Prizes got handed out last night, and among the winners are Peter Walter and Kazutoshi Mori for their work in figuring out how healthy cells ward off bad proteins and how at-risk ones might yet be saved.

You may recall Walter as the eccentric University of California, San Francisco, biochemist at work on a molecule that seems to turn dullard mice into murine geniuses, a project that could one day lead to a therapy to repair damaged human brains.

Walter and Mori are among five winners in the life sciences category, joining researchers who have made strides in ALS, decoding DNA, and the genetic engineering of plants. Each winner gets a $3 million prize.

When a cancer treatment backfires

Fringe cancer researchers claim that standard chemotherapies are tantamount to poison — and little else. A new study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine could add fuel to that fire, suggesting that some cancer treatments can trigger biological responses that spur aggressive tumor growth. 

The paper proposes that while while radiation, chemo, and even immunotherapies can devastate the majority of a tumor, a few hardy cancer cells can linger behind. These survivors — much like antibiotic-resistant bacteria — can wind up proliferating, creating a far deadlier cancer. 

Read more. 

More reads

  • CEO of Venter's Human Longevity is out amid changes to management team. (Fortune)
  • Will the Aetna-CVS deal lower drug costs? (STAT Plus)
  • NIH to researchers: Don’t publish in bad journals, please. (Retraction Watch)
  • Shkreli's Wu-Tang album could be seized by U.S. prosecutors. (Bloomberg)

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Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,

Damian & Meghana

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