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The Readout Damian Garde

Sana’s modest proposal: eradicate human disease

Sana Biotechnology came to be last year with storied founders, secretive science, and, depending on whom you believe, up to $1 billion in venture cash to plot its course.

Now, STAT’s Kate Sheridan has unearthed some details on the Seattle-based startup, which has poached a host of Juno Therapeutics executives and set out with an audacious goal: to develop universal cell and gene therapy techniques that will be able to reprogram or replace any cell in the body.

“I know it will seem grandiose. I know it will seem unconnected to the current reality,” said Noubar Afeyan, managing partner of Flagship Pioneering and a member of Sana’s board. “Absolutely. That is what it is.”

Read more.

Why Wall Street is skeptical of Pfylan

The future of Pfizer is one in which its yesteryear medicines will find a home at Mylan, the EpiPen maker that has a way of stumbling into a scandal every few years. And while investors have been pressuring Pfizer to break up its operations for the better part of a decade, the details of its generics spinoff aren’t winning many fans.

The problem is that Mylan has spent the last few years alienating Wall Street, whether via a corporate structure that disempowers shareholders, questionable use of the company jet, or turning its most famous brand into a shorthand for price gouging. And analysts see little reason why Mylan 2.0, led by a Pfizer-appointed CEO and armed with Lipitor and Viagra, will fare much differently.

“It is hard to imagine a more different culture than Pfizer,” Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal wrote in a note to investors. That creates a huge risk of future conflict, according to Gal, and “the next two years will be a Harvard Business School case one way or the other.”

Read more.

CRISPR is (gradually) moving from lab to bedside

Yesterday, CRISPR Therapeutics revealed that it had treated its first patient with a genome-editing approach to sickle cell disease. And in beta thalassemia, a rare blood disease, the first patient treated with the same CRISPR’d cells has been free of blood transfusions for more than four months.

Each is an incremental milestone but a milestone no less. And the news comes a week after Editas Medicine, another CRISPR company, opened enrollment in a study that will test a genome editing therapy for an inherited form of blindness. Intellia Therapeutics, the third CRISPR biotech, hopes to start a first trial next year.

That’s all to say that, after years of theoretical debate and legalistic dispute, we’re finally going to get actual data on how CRISPR might help actual human beings.

Biotech CEO: Drug companies will suffer if they don’t police themselves

The best way for the drug industry to protect a profitable future is by leaving some money on the table in the present.

That’s according to Paul Hastings, CEO of Nkarta Therapeutics, writing in STAT to encourage his colleagues to embrace a “social contract that drug companies, mine included, have a duty to responsibly set list prices so patients can access needed medicines.” The alternative, according to Hastings, is a status quo that might bait the government into severe policies that dim the future in the name of short-term savings, making the industry’s worst actors victims of their own success.

“Not all price increases are exorbitant, nor are all patent extensions frivolous,” Hastings writes, “but the behavior of a few is laying waste to the reputation of the entire pharmaceutical industry at the worst possible time: as the genomic medicine revolution begins to deliver a new era of previously unimaginable cures.”

Read more.

More reads

  • Democratic candidates are promising big on lower drug prices. These advisers are helping formulate their plans. (STAT Plus)
  • Biotech firm wins over Wall Street with hopes for new heart drug. (Bloomberg)
  • Phillip Frost undergoes surgery after chest pains. (Miami Herald)
  • Teva and Endo settle with California over pay-to-delay deals. (STAT Plus)

Thanks for reading! Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, July 30, 2019


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