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The Readout Damian Garde & Meghana Keshavan

Alzheimer’s drug data from Lilly wowed — but will the medicine help patients?

Early results for Eli Lilly’s Alzheimer’s drug, donanemab, are looking strong. New data confirmed the trial was the first Phase 2 study of an Alzheimer's drug to attempt to slow the disease and to have a positive outcome.

To some researchers, it's a hugely promising moment. But other researchers argue the data aren't necessarily clinically meaningful, as STAT’s Matthew Herper and Adam Feuerstein write.  

“The data are not incredibly exciting, in my opinion,” one UCLA Alzheimer’s expert told STAT. “This is not the answer.” 

What we do know for sure: Donanemab merits more study. 

Read more. 

Gene therapy player ElevateBio’s massive Series C

ElevateBio is announcing this morning that it raised a stunning $525 million in a Series C round. The company was launched in 2017 by two former Alexion executives (who resigned in the middle of a scandal) with an interesting model — it’s a sort of umbrella company that carries a portfolio of startups in the gene and cellular therapy space. 

ElevateBio’s strength is its manufacturing power: It can be difficult for startups to scale, given how complex it can be to build such hyper-specific therapeutics. ElevateBio, on the other hand, can produce large batches of complex genetic or cellular medicines.

CEO David Halla said in a statement that “accelerating innovation requires next-generation technology, analytics, and production capabilities to deliver therapies better, faster, and cheaper.” 

Pfizer CEO proud of vaccine, annoyed at stock

Pfizer can take a bow for ushering in the first Covid-19 vaccine approved in the U.S. The two-dose inoculation is considered 94% effective, and is being administered around the globe. Just this past week, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, who didn't want to cut the line,  received the second dose of the vaccine. 

“It was an extraordinary experience for me,” Bourla told Forbes in a wide-ranging interview. “Humanity was — suddenly with expecting that we will be in that position — investing all their hopes in us. That created tremendous pressure.” 

But Pfizer's achievements don’t seem to have translated to its bottom line. The stock is down 15% from the beginning of Bourla’s tenure in 2019 — a stark difference from competitor Moderna, whose stock has shot up 529% since the beginning of the pandemic.

Biology interferes again with Elizabeth Holmes’ trial

Yet another likely delay for the criminal trial of erstwhile Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes: This time, it’s because she’s pregnant, CNN writes, and due in July this year.

Her trial was initially slated to begin last summer, but was postponed due to the pandemic. Holmes was indicted on federal wire charges nearly three years ago, and faces up to 20 years in prison. A court document released in September indicated she may seek a “mental disease” defense in the trial. 

“….it is not feasible to begin the trial on July 13, 2021, as currently scheduled,” Holmes’ counsel wrote in a filing. “In light of Defendant’s pregnancy, the parties stipulate and agree, and respectfully request that the court order, that the trial begin with jury selection on August 31, 2021.”

More reads

  • Covid-19 patients with cancer, HIV, may play a role in emergence of variants. (Washington Post)
  • Northern Ireland to keep using AstraZeneca jab after Irish suspension. (BBC)
  • Monte Rosa snags $95 million to speed lead ‘molecular glue’ treatment into the clinic. (FierceBiotech)

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


Monday, March 15, 2021


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