It’s News Roundup Time! Cheap Vaccines, Genomics and More …

Try as we might, we can’t cover every bit of biotech news out there. So chill out and have a read of everything else that happened this week. 

Clinical trials

  • Imaging data from a radioactive drug developed by the UK company Theragnostics has helped doctors to tailor treatment programs for more than half of patients with recurrent prostate cancer in a phase II trial. 
  • A first-in-class analgesic drug, developed by the Italian company Rottapharm Biotech, significantly reduced knee pain in patients with the metabolic form of osteoarthritis in a phase II trial.

Finance

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  • The US National Institute on Aging has announced a five-year grant of €34M ($37.5M) to fund the launch of the Open-AD Drug Discovery Center, a network of US and European collaborations aimed to accelerate the development of drugs for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The Belgian vaccine producer Univercells has received a loan of €20M from the European Investment Bank to develop vaccines for polio, measles, rubella and rabies that will cost a fraction of the price of current vaccines.
  • The Japanese investor GHIT Fund has given a grant of €1.1M to an international group of organizations and companies, including the UK company Fusion Antibodies, to fund the development of a noninvasive diagnostic test for malaria based on analyzing patients’ saliva.
  • The Dutch startup Allero Therapeutics has raised an undisclosed amount in a seed round to fund the development of immunotherapies for autoimmune diseases that can be given to the patient through the skin lining the inside of the mouth.

Collaborations

  • The German biotech company Evotec has selected a lead drug targeting the protein mTORC1 that could treat age-related diseases. This milestone has earned Evotec an undisclosed payment from its development partner, the US company Aeovian Pharmaceuticals.
  • The US company Akero Therapeutics will use organ-on-a-chip technology from the Swiss company InSphero to study a protein drug that is in a phase II trial for the liver disease non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
  • The Dutch company Mimetas has joined forces with the Dutch nonprofit organization Hubrecht Organoid Technologies to develop organoid-on-a-chip models that can model diseases with more accuracy than traditional cell culture.
  • The French gene therapy company Lysogene announced the start of a collaboration with the Italian neuroscience research organization IRBM to develop gene therapies for an undisclosed disease.

Products

  • The UK regenerative medicine company Tissue Regenix Group has launched a modified version of its artificial skin graft Dermapure that doesn’t need to be oriented in a specific direction when being applied. This extends the product’s use from healing wounds and burns to treating gynecological surgery.
  • The UK genomics firm Congenica has upgraded its software to better diagnose genetic diseases. To achieve this, Congenica integrated its current genomics data with two sources of genetic and clinical data for rare diseases called DECIPHER and Mastermind

Research

  • A group of researchers in Finland trawled through genomic data from the UK Biobank and FinnGen projects and found ten variants of genes encoding fat-processing proteins that are linked with cardiovascular disease. This could identify new drug targets and biomarkers for treating cardiovascular diseases.
  • An academic collaboration between the University of Cambridge, UK, and the University of Lund, Sweden, has used whole-genome sequencing of tumor cells to predict the best treatments for patients with triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer.
  • Researchers at the University of Valencia, Spain, have identified RNA molecules called microRNAs that are found in the blood and are associated with complications from pneumonia, such as sepsis. These microRNAs could serve as biomarkers in a blood test telling doctors quickly if patients are at a high risk of experiencing complications.

Image via E. Resko

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