Still catching up on news? We’ve picked out the most exciting things that happened besides clinical results and finance. Here’s the biggest biotech news of 2017.
We’ve been recapping the year with the most stellar biotechs, most heartening clinical successes and most disappointing failures in biotech. But what else happened this year? There’s more news besides finance and clinical results — politics, initiatives, and bioart, for instance! We’ve selected our most-read stories that weren’t covered by our other year-end reviews. Here’s the biggest biotech news of the year!
2017 may be remembered as the year of CAR-T after the FDA approved the world’s first of its kind from Novartis. French biotech Cellectis is developing an off-the-shelf version that entered the clinic in January this year. Though the program hit a speedbump in the form of a clinical hold following a patient death, Cellectis co-founder David Sourdive says the therapy could be ready “in the coming decade.”
We said goodbye to Glybera this year when uniQure pulled it from the market in October, 5 years after it became the West’s first approved gene therapy. Despite its scientific success as a functional cure of a rare enzyme deficiency, Glybera became a commercial failure: with a hefty price tag of €1M per treatment, it was only administered once outside of clinical trials. Because it costs time and money to maintain a market approval, uniQure opted to withdraw it.
Horizon2020 launched an initiative to build a biocomputer that could be more powerful and safe than its quantum counterparts. The project will last for five years and has kicked off with €6.1M in funding. Incidentally, a molecular one is on the way.
While it wasn’t a failure, Immunocore posted some less than inspiring results this year. As Clara explains, the results might seem promising when taken as a percentage of improvement and given the lack of treatments available, but the magnitude boils down to less than two months. It seems hardly worthy of the €293M fundraising round in 2015.
There’s a new French company out to cure retinitis pigmentosa. Based in Paris, Horama has had an exciting autumn, first with this authorization to kick off clinical testing and then a €19M Series B. Its CEO Christine Placet is also on our list of Top Women Entrepreneurs.
Sweden launched an interactive pathology atlas to keep up with all known cancer genes. The project aims to visualize individual genes and their effects in an effort that may further entrench the personalization of medicine. To build the database, a team led by Mathias Uhlén analyzed a whole 2.5 petabytes of data from the cancer genome atlas, and the results covering 17 major cancer types are now open access.
It has not been a good year for Sanofi, with its manufacturing troubles, break up with Regeneron and perhaps most troublingly, the immolation of its dengue vaccine in The Philippines. Leading institutions including Johns Hopkins and Imperial College published their concerns about it just over a year ago, and last month, the chickens came home to roost.
A Dutch museum, Micropia, celebrates the diversity and positivity of the microbiome just a few kilometers from where the field of microbiology took off more than two centuries ago. A temporary exhibition on extremophiles is still on view, but only until January 8th.