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The Readout Damian Garde

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Taking on the Alzheimer's establishment

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Robert Moir suggests that plaques build up in Alzheimer's as a means to protect against pathogens. (STAT)

Although Alzheimer’s drugs continue to flail and fail, there’s a notable dearth of NIH funding for researchers who take unorthodox approaches to the disease. Take Robert Moir: The Massachusetts General Hospital neurobiologist has long pursued the idea that neurodegenerative disease may have a microbial root — but he’s seen funding requests and papers denied time after time. The beta-amyloid hypothesis reigns supreme, and it’s difficult to get notice if a researcher doesn’t conform.

Here’s how Moir, an unorthodox scientist, bucked the prevailing theory and managed to make a mark. 

Read more.

Novartis CEO: What's passé, and what to watch

Novartis is restructuring, with aims to focus more intently on “specialized and more personalized innovative medicines,” per CEO Vas Narasimhan, who spoke with STAT on his new game plan. Contact lenses have been culled from the business, whereas cancer immunotherapy will increasingly get more backing. Gene therapy is “really at a pivotal point,” and digital therapeutics are picking up steam in Narasimhan’s eyes. 

“My ultimate dream would be to find signatures of high-responding patients through … artificial intelligence, and prospectively identify: Who will be the super-responders?” he told STAT. 

Read more.

Shaking up the cholesterol game

A small biotech got a boost to its hopes of disrupting the cholesterol-lowering market — long dominated by pharma’s biggest players. Esperion Therapeutics announced that a combination of its once-a-day drug, bempadoic acid, lowered LDL cholesterol by 18 percent when combined with statins — compared with a standard statin regimen alone.

The company plans on submitting its data to the FDA for approval early next year. It’ll likely be priced at $3,500 — lower than the $14,000 list price of PCSK9 drugs, which are out of reach for some patients but are generally the most effective at lowering cholesterol if statins fail to do the job. Esperion’s drug is meant to be an interloper, of sorts, squeezing somewhere between the costly, effective PCSK9 drugs and the economical, but less potent, statins.

Read more.

Pfizer and Novartis tag team NASH

The two drug makers are joining forces to develop experimental combination therapies for the fatty liver disease. While clinical results are yonder, scientists at both Pfizer and Novartis say that using two or more drugs that have different mechanisms in the liver might be the best bet for patients with this disease. 

The financial terms weren't disclosed in this morning's announcement, but the companies plan one or more trials that combine Novartis’ experimental NASH drug tropifexor with up to three different Pfizer compounds.

Read more.

More reads

  • The West is losing the gene editing race. It needs to catch up. (STAT)
  • Why private equity is furious over a paper in a dermatology journal. (New York Times

Monday, October 29, 2018

STAT

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