Bioshot News

Some weekly industry news updates:

New Gilead CEO John Milligan takes over from John Martin 

  • Both men joined at the same time in 1990. John Milligan became COO in 2007 then President in 2008.
  • Takeover comes at a crucial time as Gilead is facing increasing pressure in the Hepatitis C field from competitors Merck and AbbVie.
  • Rumor has it they might be scouting for a new acquisition.

Theranos’ Wellness center based in Walgreens at Palo Alto closed

  • Theranos received a warning letter from the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which stated that testing at the center posed “immediate jeopardy to patient safety”. The letter gives Theranos 10 days to provide “acceptable evidence of correction”.
  • Walgreens has informed Theranos that all samples collected in their stores must only be sent to Theranos’ certified lab in Pheonix.
  • Their Disruptive technology has been called into question over the last few months as previous employees report that their minute blood sampling technology has only been applied to a small percentage of patients.
  • Theranos also still has yet to publish details of their technology, inciting skepticism and criticism from the scientific community.

Zika virus outbreak

  • A worldwide alert was issued by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) as an infection was reported in Brazil during May 2015 (speculation that it was triggered by the massive traveler influx during the World Cup).
  • Transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, 80% of infected people do not display symptoms, other 20% show symptoms such as fever, rashes, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. Consequences for pregnant women are more severe, resulting in poor outcomes and babies born with abnormally small heads i.e microecephaly.
  • No cure or vaccine for now. People are currently being advised to cover their arms and use insect repellent or to avoid travel to infected areas.

Pfizer-Allergan partners with Astrazeneca to develop a new antibiotic with the help of the U.S. government

  • Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the US Department of Health, is offering $50 million for drug discovery with a potential $170 million over five years in a plan to build a portfolio of drug candidates for the treatment of illnesses caused by bioterrorism agents and antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Pharmas often claim making antibiotics are not cost-effective due to low returns on investment. However the threat of microbial resistance has seen global governments trying to seek new ways to work with pharma to increase antibiotic development.

New sweat monitoring technology

  • Published in Nature, the device monitors glucose, sodium, lactate and potassium levels in sweat emitted on the skin’s surface.

Eisai acquires Liaoning TianYi Biological Pharmaceutical Co Ltd

  • Japanese pharma Eisai, aims to tap into China’s pharmaceutical market valued at US$109.3 billion – generics said to make up 80%.

Takeda teams up with universities to develop clinical applications of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). 

  • Takeda will provide collaborative funding of 20 billion yen (~US$166 million), and jointly run multiple projects led by researchers invited from The Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University and other universities.

US-based Accorda buys Finnish Biotie for 321 million

  • The deal serves to boost Accorda’s neurodegenerative disease pipeline as Biotie’s adenosine 2a receptor inhibitor is already in PIII for Parkinson’s disease.

Treeway won orphan drug status for its investigational drug for ALS

  • Started by two ALS patients Bernard Muller and Robbert Jan Stuit.
  • Orphan drug status for TW001 allows for reduced clinical trial costs, a $2M waiver in fees for NDA submission and seven year market exclusivity.
  • ALS only has one approved drug – Riluzole (Sanofi)
  • Biogen’s recent ALS candidate drug dexpramipexole crashed out during PIII.

Dementia Discovery Fund

  • $100 million has already been raised for a new fund set up to invest in drugs for dementia.
  • The fund gains monetary and scientific support from the UK Department of Health, Alzheimer’s research UK (charity) and major global pharmas including Biogen, Pfizer, Eli Lily, Takeda and J&J.
  • Headed by SV Life Sciences, a VC with established track record of investing in Life Science companies since the 1980s.
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