Monday, November 6, 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.

Finding a half-full glass in Alzheimer's

Developing drugs for Alzheimer's disease, as you may have heard, is hard. And thus when the field gets together to talk about the latest clinical trials, there's not a lot in the way of success to herald.

But every phase 3 failure has a silver lining — or at least that's one lesson from the weekend's Clinical Trials in Alzheimer's Disease conference, where bad data from Merck got a positive spin and (almost) everyone was heartened by what's going on at Biogen.

One downer: It looks like injecting young blood into the old doesn't really work, news that may be disappointing to Peter Thiel, a wise and admirable investor whose demonstrated ability to shut down online publications has in no way informed his description in this newsletter.

Anyway, read more on STAT Plus.

Is West best?

We've all heard of the top-flight scientists and policy wonks who have forsaken Kendall Square and D.C. for Silicon Valley. 


Well, listen to Dr. Tom Insel's blistering assessment of his 13 years running the National Institute of Mental Health: “What I was doing was providing lots of additional funding to people whose major goal was to get a paper in Nature and get tenure.”

Or consider how Mary Lou Jepsen sized up her career in East Coast academia — "a bunch of papers and a couple dozen graduate students" — versus her opportunity in California to "transform lives" with a biomedical startup. "No contest," she said. "I had to leave MIT."

STAT recently convened a roundtable of prominent East-to-West-Coast migrants to hear their takes on both hubs of power, and as you can tell from the excerpts above, they didn't hold back. 

Read more of their thoughts. And please, add your comments at the bottom of the article. We'd love to get your take.

Sponsor content by Trianni

The best antibody discovery technology is now at your fingertips

The Trianni Mouse is the only transgenic antibody discovery platform ever developed that offers the entirety of human antibody variable gene diversity in a single organism.

The V-gene segments in The Trianni Mouse are chimeric, but the variable domains of antibodies made by the mouse are entirely human. The result is human antibody leads generated from antibody genes optimized for function in the mouse. Learn why this mouse is a more human mouse.

Of red tape and cupcakes 


they were gingerbread and quite delightful — though presumably not fda-approved.
(STAT/ ike swetlitz)

Dr. Scott Gottlieb has a funny way of following the Trump party line.

In an early executive order, the president called on federal agencies to atone for every new regulation by cutting two. Asked on Friday if he was doing that, Gottlieb answered: "We actually deregulate by regulating." 

He went on to explain that many regulations at the FDA are outdated, and thus ignored. STAT's Ike Swetlitz reported all this — and then tweeted a photo of the cupcakes served at the luncheon where Gottlieb made his remarks.

Then this happened:

Read more.

If a migraine drug falls behind, does Wall Street make a sound?

Here’s some news: Teva Pharmaceutical might have just lapped Amgen in the race to commercialize a new class of migraine treatments. Here’s something familiar: It’s not clear anyone cares.

Investors don’t seem particularly moved by the idea of treating persistent migraines with antibodies that target a protein called CGRP. That’s despite months of hand-waving from Amgen, Teva, Novartis, Eli Lilly, and Alder Biopharmaceuticals. The companies are so enthusiastic that Amgen already named its drug, and Teva is gearing up to sue everyone.

And yet the news, spotted by EvercoreISI analyst Umer Raffat, that Teva used one of those FDA vouchers to speed up its review, went almost entirely unremarked upon.

Theoretically, Teva could beat Amgen to the market next year and gain a huge competitive advantage in what promises to be a competitive space. The lack of a reaction suggests that, in the eyes of investors, the CGRP players will be divvying up a small pie.

More reads

  • A video guide to how CRISPR works. (Nature)
  • GlaxoSmithKline and Gilead go head to head as HIV drugs enter new phase. (Reuters)
  • Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong faces questions over his genetic tests. (Politico)
  • Amgen to eliminate 200 R&D jobs (STAT Plus)

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

Send us an email

Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,

Damian & Meghana

Enjoy this email? Tell your friends and coworkers to sign up here.