Why do you want faster cures? | Drug testing advances with Lego-like cell stacking | CEO positions PureTech as next-gen biopharma company
September 1, 2015
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NIH grant paves way for Alzheimer's research center in Fla.
The NIH has awarded $1.5 million to Mount Sinai Medical Center and the University of Florida to create the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. The money will fund the first year of the program, and researchers hope to keep it going for five years. "The state of Florida is one of the epicenters of the Alzheimer's epidemic, with something like 500,000 people diagnosed with the disease. From a demographic point of view, we really need an Alzheimer's Disease Research Center," said the University of Florida's Todd Golde. American City Business Journals/South Florida (8/28)
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News from FasterCures
Why do you want faster cures?
Last year during Partnering for Cures, we asked participants why faster cures matter to them. Take two minutes to check out this video to find out their answers. Want to be a part of the action at Partnering for Cures this year, Nov. 1-3 in New York? Registration is open.
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Science and Technology
Drug testing advances with Lego-like cell stacking
A technique that uses DNA fragments to connect human cells -- much like Lego blocks -- promises to facilitate the development of organoids to test customized drugs before they're used on a patient. The stacking technique solves the tough problem of "getting all those communicating cells in place such that only the correct cells are touching and talking to one another," said the University of California at San Francisco's Zev Gartner, an associate professor of pharmaceutical chemistry. LiveScience.com (8/31)
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CEO positions PureTech as next-gen biopharma company
PureTech is part venture capital firm and part incubator, licensing patents from academic labs and developing products that meet health needs. It can take years to realize a return on investment, but the payoff can be significant. "We're flexible. We're not looking to sell a program, but we could," said founder and CEO Daphne Zohar. The Boston Globe (tiered subscription model) (8/27)
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Precision medicine still mostly misses the mark
Treatments based on patients' or their tumors' genetic profiles offer great hope, but the field of precision medicine is still young and imperfect. Some patients have experienced dramatic results only to have their cancer recur in a drug-resistant form. Challenges include finding mutations and identifying exactly which ones drive disease. The Boston Globe (tiered subscription model)/Stat (8/29)
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Finance and Economics
Raleigh-Durham moves up, San Francisco moves down list of life sciences hubs
The greater Boston area retained the top spot on Jones Lang LaSalle's list of US life sciences hubs, while Raleigh-Durham moved up to second place and San Francisco slipped to third. The rankings are based on percentage of employees in the life sciences, venture capital and NIH funding, patents, percentage of businesses in the field, and employment growth. American City Business Journals/Philadelphia (8/28)
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Lung cancer researchers receive $11M grant
The National Cancer Institute has awarded an $11 million grant to Yale-New Haven's Smilow Cancer Hospital for research into non-small cell lung cancer. "What this grant is designed to do is to take new therapies and discoveries from the lab to the patients who need them in the clinic and to raise the bar ... to develop even better therapies for those who come after," said medical oncology Program Chief Roy Herbst. New Haven Register (Conn.) (8/27)
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Japan launches public-private genome project to combat cancer
The National Cancer Center of Japan is leading a research project with 13 private pharmaceutical firms to gather genomic information from thousands of cancer patients to develop individualized cancer treatments. The project will focus on approximately 150 genes linked to the disease, said Koichi Goto of the National Cancer Center. BioSpectrum Asia (8/31)
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Policy and Regulation
FDA task force seeks coordinated registries for medical devices
An FDA task force report summarized in the Journal of the American Medical Association has suggested the creation of a coordinated registries network to monitor the postmarketing performance of medical devices. The report outlines how the platform should be designed to give providers and patients access to near-real-time data. The task force recommended that the program should be capable of providing constant updates on benefits, risks and safety, should be developed through pilot programs that build momentum for the centralized database and should offer customized analysis for stakeholders and regulators. Healthcare Informatics online (8/28)
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Society and Ethics
Community cancer centers combine research, cutting-edge care
More health care systems are offering cancer patients early access to clinical trials while giving oncologists an opportunity to conduct research without some of the bureaucratic hurdles often found in academic settings. MedPage Today (free registration) (8/31)
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Financial ties are not the only conflicts of interest in medicine
Researchers have studied the effects of industry sponsorship on clinical trial conclusions, FDA decisions and prescribing tendencies, but few studies have examined the effects of other biases, such as professional ambition, political or religious ideology, and personal experiences. "When we confront disclosures of potential conflicts of interest in research, we should also confront how we use them and why," writes health economist Austin Frakt. Transparently reporting studies' designs and methods could reduce bias in how patients, regulators and clinicians interpret those studies' results, Frakt suggests. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (8/31)
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On the FastTrack
Register for DIA conference on benefit-risk assessment, Sept. 17-18
DIA's upcoming conference, "Patient Engagement in Benefit-Risk Assessment Throughout the Life Cycle of Medical Products," will take place Sept. 17-18 in Bethesda, Md. Patient organizations and patients are invited to attend for a reduced registration fee of $200. Speakers include K. Kimberly McCleary, FasterCures' managing director, as well as several members of FasterCures' Benefit-Risk Advisory Council. Find out more.
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