It’s News Roundup Time! Vaccines, Dental Stem Cells, and More …

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

Clinical trials

  • The lead gene therapy candidate of Dutch company uniQure has eliminated bleeding episodes in three patients with the genetic blood clotting disorder hemophilia B in interim data from a phase IIb trial. The gene therapy is also in an ongoing phase III trial with results expected at the end of 2020.

Finance

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  • The UK biotech Sense Biodetection has received a €1.8M grant from the agency Innovate UK and also raised a €14.3M Series A. The money will fund the development of handheld molecular diagnostic devices that can test samples for influenza in a doctor’s office within minutes, without needing to be sent to lab facilities.
  • The Swiss pharmaceutical company BioVersys will receive up to €8M in upfront and milestone grants from the US public-private partnership CARB-X to support the development of drugs that prevent bacteria from producing toxic molecules, which could help to combat antibiotic resistance.
  • The UK company Enesi Pharma has received an undisclosed sum as a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund the development of a vaccine for measles and rubella that doesn’t need needles or cold storage, which could increase vaccine coverage in the developing world. 
  • The German company BioMed X has received an undisclosed milestone payment from the US giant AbbVie for identifying modified forms of a protein called tau that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. These proteins could be used as biomarkers of early stages of Alzheimer’s and inform drug discovery.

Scientific research

  • An antibody-drug conjugate treatment developed by the UK company Femtogenix has shown promise for attacking solid tumors without damaging healthy tissue in rats. The drug consists of an antibody attached to a toxic drug and is designed to cause fewer side effects than other antibody-drug conjugates by releasing the toxic drug from the antibody carrier at the tumor site more selectively.
  • A research group at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, has generated milk-producing mammary glands in mice using stem cells taken from their gums. This could one day lead to a way to regenerate breast tissue in patients who have been treated for breast cancer.
  • Scientists at the University of Sheffield, UK, have linked a protein in immune cells called Tribbles-1 with the buildup of fat in arteries in mice, which could provide a new drug target for cardiovascular disease in humans. 
  • A genetic study by an international team of researchers has uncovered why the immune system in patients with measles often becomes weakened against other infections: measles destroys immune ‘memory’ cells that are vital for protecting against past diseases. This discovery reinforces the need to maximize vaccine coverage for children across the world.
  • A group of scientists at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, has discovered how a bacterial protein called aerolysin punches holes, or ‘nanopores’, into the membranes of enemy bacteria. The aerolysin nanopores could eventually be developed as biosensors able to sequence DNA and proteins in more detail than current nanopore sequencing technology.
  • Scientists at the Queen Mary University of London have analyzed genetic data from 14,000 people in one of the largest African datasets collected to date. The researchers discovered nine genes specific to African populations that are associated with diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and emphasized the need for more population diversity in genetic studies.

Image via E. Resko

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