The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

A peek behind the startup veil

Public companies have to disclose to their stockholders the minutiae of each expenditure, of each home run and each shuddering failure. Private companies, on the other hand, can rake in millions of venture dollars — and stay absolutely mum about what they actually do with it.

STAT’s Kate Sheridan takes a peek behind the private company veil, analyzing the performance of four biotech startups — Vor Biopharma, Tiburio Therapeutics, Apic Bio, and Ribon Therapeutics. 

Are these stealthy startups doing what they said they’d do with their funding? And how are they doing, overall? 

Read more.

STAT Madness 2020!

Will it be a DNA microscope? How about a gene therapy for “bubble boy” disease? Or maybe nano-robots that scour your teeth for plaque? 

Voting kicks off this week for STAT Madness — our very own bracket-style competition to determine which researcher’s science is the most exciting for the year. Help us choose between 64 different entrants to see who deserves academic glory.

Last year, a tinnitus treatment from University of Michigan gained the top slot — in which electrical stimulation from a device helped lessen these frustrating phantom noises. 

Who will win it all this year? 

Vote here.

George Scangos tapped as BIO’s coronavirus czar

BIO has tasked former Biogen chief George Scangos with leading the trade group’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reports. Scangos currently heads the Bay Area startup Vir Biotechnology, which is working on its own coronavirus therapy — teaming up with China’s WuXi Biologics to create monoclonal antibody drugs. 

About 20 BIO member companies are researching therapeutics, vaccines, or diagnostics that target the virus. 

“The role is still evolving but it is clear someone needs to pick up the reins,” Scangos told Reuters. 

Coronavirus cancellations

Conventions are notorious hotbeds for disease transmission, with germy handshakes and standing-room-only talks breeding contagion. It's no wonder at least two biotech conferences have been cancelled in the next week, as a precaution against promulgating a coronavirus outbreak. 

The ESMO Targeted Anticancer Therapies Congress, meant to run March 2-4 in Paris, was canceled — as was the International Symposium on Amyloidosis in Spain

Alnylam, for what it's worth, announced via Twitter that it'd be holding off on presenting its own amyloidosis data until a more opportune (read: virus-free) time. 

Still scheduled for this weekend in Boston: CROI.

More reads

  • Cambridge biotech Moderna leads in the race for a coronavirus vaccine. (Boston Globe)
  • Partisan bickering delayed Zika funding for months. With coronavirus, experts worry history will repeat itself. (STAT)
  • FDA approves a generic version fo the drug Martin Shkreli monopolized. (STAT)
  • Sanofi to pay nearly $12 million for illegally using a charity to pay kickbacks to Medicare patients. (STAT

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


Monday, March 2, 2020


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