The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

An eventful five years in biotech — and at STAT

Five years ago, in the early days of STAT, biotech was trading near its all-time high, with money pouring into the sector, novel science turning into practicable medicine, and little indication that the coming presidential election was going to change everything. 

To commemorate STAT’s fifth anniversary, we decided to take a look back at the biggest stories from the years that would follow. That includes the saga of CRISPR genome editing, a headline-grabbing discovery that spawned an ugly patent fight, an ethical controversy, and a Nobel Prize in chemistry. We also saw drug pricing transform from a niche issue into an everyday political squabble, and gene and cell therapies evolve from promising ideas to FDA-approved products. Then there was the rise of AI in medicine, the reckoning over opioid misuse, and the dawn of Covid-19 crisis, which has affected every aspect of STAT’s coverage. 

Here’s a trip through the last five years of breakthroughs, uproars, and controversies in science and medicine.

Read more.

Bayer makes a gene therapy acquisition

Bayer announced this morning that it's buying into gene therapy to the tune of $4 billion. It’s acquiring Asklepios Biopharmaceutical, or AskBio — a gene therapy pioneer that has been around for nearly two decades.

AskBio has sold off portions of its business over the years — with Baxter buying its hemophilia program in 2014 and Pfizer its Duchenne effort in 2016. Bayer is now purchasing the rest. 

Read more. 

KRAS making a comeback

An experimental pill from Mirati Therapeutics that blocks KRAS, called adagrasib, shrank tumors in 45% of patients with advanced lung cancer, STAT’s Adam Feuerstein writes. The data follows similar results from Amgen in September, which showed a 35% response rate in advanced lung cancer patients treated with its own KRAS-blocking drug, sotorasib. 

“Despite knowing about KRAS mutations for 30 years, we hadn’t been able to come up with anything to treat them, so these data open the door,” one cancer expert told STAT. “It’s an exciting thing.” 

Read more.

Where is Giuliani on medicine?

Rudy Giuliani is a man who wears many hats: mayor, presidential attorney, breakout mockumentary superstar. One lesser-known role: pharma consultant.

Way back in 2008, Giuliani had been paid $1 million to help extricate India’s wayward Ranbaxy Laboratories from a huge jam, STAT’s Ed Silverman writes

New documents shared with STAT offer a glimpse into how Giuliani operated — and how Ranbaxy tried to minimize a  scandal that triggered concern over Indian generic makers and their impact on the quality of the supply chain.

Read more.

More reads

  • Watch: mRNA vaccines face their first test in the fight against Covid-19. How do they work? (STAT)
  • Alnylam makes case for lumasiran in infants ahead of FDA ruling. (FierceBiotech)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


Monday, October 26, 2020


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