Press review

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Immunotherapy combinations among FT's '50 ideas to change the world'

Country : China, Denmark, Switzerland, U.S., UK

Keywords :
LONDON, Mar 9 (APM) - The Financial Times on Monday carried an analysis of the potential of immunotherapy products as part of a special report on 50 ideas to change the world.
The most common immunotherapy drugs currently are checkpoint inhibitors, which have been found effective in advanced melanoma. Almost 60% of advanced melanoma patients survive three years if they take a combination of two of these drugs, compared to previous prognosis of three to 18 months,
The second generation of checkpoints are PDL1 inhibitors, although the paper lamented the lack of a “magic combination” of these types of drug, and that response rates can be very low.
One of the hopes in the next generation of immunotherapies is the IDO inhibitors, which suppresses an enzyme that tumours use to hide from the immune system. Both Merck & Co and Bristol-Myers Squibb are testing their checkpoint inhibitors with an IDO inhibitor as part of separate partnerships with U.S. biotech Incyte.

Genetic testing for rare diseases can save money, says England’s CMO

Routine genetic testing for rare diseases can save healthcare systems money, said England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies in an interview with the FT published on Monday as part of the '50 ideas to change the world' special report.
She told the paper that learning more about a patient’s genetic make-up will lead to better and more cost-effective approaches to caring for patients.
“For rare diseases, this will save money,” she said, as it will mean patients can be treated with drugs that are known to work for their genetic mutation, rather than money being wasted on ineffective treatments.

Nanobots can shrink tumours - study

Nanometre-sized robots have the potential to treat cancer, the FT said on Monday as part of the '50 ideas to change the world' special report.
The paper said that researchers in the U.S. and China injected nanobots made from a folded sheet of DNA into the bloodstream of mice with cancerous tumours. The nanobots targeted blood vessels around the tumours, injecting them with blood-clotting drugs to cut off blood supply.
Study results published in February showed that the treatment was successful in shrinking tumours and inhibiting their spread.

Biotechs planning to test Crispr-Cas9 gene editing

Two biotechs are planning to start testing the gene-editing technology known as Crispr-Cas9 in humans this year, the FT said on Monday as part of a special report on 50 ideas to change the world.
Switzerland-based Crispr Therapeutics has applied for permission from European regulators to test its product known as CtX001 as a treatment for inherited blood condition beta-thalassaemia. The company also plans to seek permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test the drug in people with sickle cell disease.
Another company, Editas Medicine, is planning to apply for permission from the FDA in the middle of the year to test its own Crispr gene editing products in patients with a rare form of congenital blindness.

Diagnostics needed to tackle rise of antimicrobial resistance

New diagnostic tools are necessary to stop the increase of resistance to antibiotic drugs, the FT said on Monday as part of a special report on 50 ideas to change the world
The paper cited a 2016 report from economist Jim O’Neill that said rapid diagnostics could “transform the way we use antimicrobials in humans and animals: reducing unnecessary use, slowing AMR and so making existing drugs last longer.”
The paper described diagnostics as the “poor cousin” of medicine, saying that it is experiencing underinvestment in research and insufficient support.
One organisation working in the area is the Foundation for Innovative Diagnostics (FIND). It has helped support the development of GeneXpert, a test that combines tuberculosis and the presence of a strain resistant to the drug rifampicin.

Shkreli to forfeit $7.36 million in assets

The FT on Monday reported that former pharma CEO Martin Shkreli has been ordered by a U.S. judge to forfeit $7.36 million in assets, including an album by the Wu-Tang clan that he bought for $2 million in 2015.
U.S. district court judge Kiyo Matsumoto said on Monday that Shkreli has to hand over the assets after his fraud conviction. He is due to be sentenced later this week.

Pharma 'mistaken' to pull out of Alzheimer’s research

Pharma companies such as Pfizer are making a mistake to pull out of Alzheimer’s research, a leading neuroscientists has said, according to Tuesday’s Guardian.
The paper reported comments from professor John Hardy, of University College London, who was one of the recipients of the 2018 Brain prize, a 1 million-euro prize from the Lundbeck Foundation in Denmark that is referred to as the Nobel of brain science.
“Things are more hopeful now from a scientific point of view and an understanding point of view than they were five years ago,” he said. “I think pharma is making a mistake pulling out.”
The Times on Wednesday reported comments from Michel Goedert, head of neurobiology at Cambridge University’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology, who shared the prize.
He said he thought Alzheimer’s would be “whittled down” by new treatments under development. “I don’t think there will be a magic bullet that will one day appear and Alzheimer’s disease will just disappear,” he said.
“I think it will be more like HIV, which used to be a huge problem 10 or 15 years ago, and now it’s still there but it has been sort of contained or whittled down, if you like, by multiple drug treatments. I think Alzheimer’s disease hopefully will be like that. There will still be cases but it will disappear as this huge, major problem for society.”

Opioids no better than other painkillers in some chronic pain cases - study

The Daily Mail on Tuesday covered a study that claims opioid painkillers do not treat chronic hip, knee or back pain any better than less addictive painkillers,
Veterans Affairs clinics across the US compared how well opioid and other medications, such as Advil, restored basic functions like walking, working and sleeping to former servicemen and women.
In the small study, opioids offered no advantage to people suffering from several common pain conditions.

Biosimilar Botox on cards

The FT on Thursday covered the development of Revance’s biosimilar to Allergan’s blockbuster wrinkle treatment Botox.
The paper said that the Silicon Valley biotech has teamed up with Mylan to develop the product, which prompted a sell-off in Allergan’s shares.
Dan Browne, CEO of Revance, told the FT that no company has managed to develop a Botox biosimilar yet because it is “exceedingly challenging” to replicate the complex manufacturing process.
He said his company has an opportunity in the area because its raw ingredients come from the same source as Allergan’s. Analysts predict a biosimilar product would have more success in making a dent in the medical indications of Botox, such as excessive sweating, rather than for its cosmetic indications, due to the cost-cutting nature of the former.

Off-label cancer drug recommendations in U.S. based on ‘weak evidence’

The Guardian on Wednesday covered a study that says guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network for off-label prescribing of cancer drugs are based on “weak evidence”.
The research, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), focused on 47 new drugs approved by the FDA between 2011 and 2015. The FDA approved those drug for 69 different indications. However, the NCCN recommended them for 113 indications, 44 more indications than the FDA approved.
Only a minority of those additional recommendations were based on either randomised controlled trials (23%), considered the gold standard, or advanced-level Phase III trials (16%).
The team also followed up after 20 months on whether the FDA eventually approved medications for those 44 additional indications NCCN recommended. Only 14% were eventually approved by the FDA.
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