Senate panel debates, approves bills supporting 21st Century Cures Act | Catch up on content from Partnering for Cures | Biden seeks collaboration on cancer research initiative
 
February 11, 2016
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Senate panel debates, approves bills supporting 21st Century Cures Act
The Senate is taking a piecemeal approach to the 21st Century Cures legislation approved by the House, with funding for the bill's mandates an especially sticky point. The House bill allocates $8.75 billion more in mandatory funding for the NIH over five years, but some Senate Republicans prefer to make the funding discretionary and subject to annual debate. The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously approved seven pieces of legislation supporting provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act. "I think there's a sense of momentum ... and I get the sense that the committee's not done putting forward bills,” says FasterCures Executive Director Margaret Anderson. ScienceMag.org (2/9), STAT (2/9)
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News from FasterCures
Catch up on content from Partnering for Cures
Corinna Lathan, FasterCures P4C
Cori Lathan (FasterCures)
Did you miss a session at November's Partnering for Cures conference? Don't worry -- you can watch the videos online. If you have 10 or 20 minutes to spare, check out the inspiring Time=Lives talks or the interesting mashups of leaders from different sectors of medical research. Or, if you want to take a deep dive into an issue such as precision medicine, patient-centricity or venture philanthropy, watch the panel videos to hear multiple viewpoints from experts on the topics. Watch now.
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Science and Technology
Biden seeks collaboration on cancer research initiative
Don Graves, a cancer survivor and Vice President Joe Biden's counselor and director of domestic and economic policy, will coordinate the National Cancer Moonshot program. Graves will try to help cancer researchers and advocates work together to achieve a common goal. "We have to break down these silos and share the data," Biden said during a visit to Duke University. STAT (2/10), WTOP-FM (Washington, D.C.)/The Associated Press (2/10)
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Cancer diagnostics startup taps former Google exec for CEO
Former Google X Senior Vice President Jeff Huber will serve as CEO of Grail, a spinoff of gene sequencing company Illumina that is developing a blood test for early detection of cancer. Huber has worked on AdWords, Google Maps and the Google Apps suite, as well as self-driving cars and drones. "Jeff helped Google map the world, and he'll help us map the molecular biology of the microscopic cancer DNA that might be circulating in our blood," said Jay Flatley, CEO at Illumina and the chairman of Grail's board. Reuters (2/10), Xconomy (2/10), MedCityNews.com (2/10)
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Engineers take different approaches in fight against diabetes
Biomedical engineers at the Harvard University's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a few miles away at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are taking two different approaches toward the same goal: treating or curing diabetes. The researchers at Harvard are developing algorithms to help glucose pumps and sensors work together, making an artificial pancreas possible. The MIT scientists are developing a gel that protects islet cells from immune-system attacks while allowing the cells to function normally. Reuters (2/10)
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Finance and Economics
Dartmouth researchers to study cystic fibrosis treatments with grant
A $30 million grant to Dartmouth College will help create three research groups, including one that will search for new treatments for cystic fibrosis. Researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the Geisel School of Medicine will focus, in part, on rare variations of the genetic disorder. Valley News (White River Junction, Vt.) (2/11)
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Black women remain on the VC sidelines
Tech companies founded by black women accounted for a mere sliver of venture investment in recent years, highlighting the industry's diversity challenges. Only two dozen such companies received venture backing between 2012 and 2014, with only $36,000 raised on average. Wired.com (2/10)
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Worldwide funding grows for vaccination programs
The Gavi Alliance is largely responsible for an increase since 2000 in financial assistance for vaccination efforts in low- and middle-income countries, a study published in Health Affairs found. Donors provided $3.6 billion in funding for vaccination programs in 2014, compared with $822 million in 2000, but financial assistance has slowed from 12.3% annually from 2000 to 2010 to 8.3% annually from 2010 to 2014, the researchers found. Healio (free registration) (2/11)
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Policy and Regulation
NIH requires early-stage clinical trials to include females
Biomedical researchers working with animals will be required to use both male and female animals for studies funded by the NIH. Eighty percent of drug studies involving mice use males only, which could lead to approval of drugs that have different effects on women than were seen in studies, says Janine Clayton, director of the NIH's Office of Research on Women's Health. The policy will not ameliorate all sex-based research outcomes, but it will help, neurologist Rhonda Voskuhl said. National Public Radio (2/10)
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Society and Ethics
Zika threat prompts broad data-sharing initiative
HEALTH-ZIKA-VIRUS
(Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images)
An international coalition including the NIH, scientific journal publishers, nonprofit groups and research institutes has agreed to share any data or study results that could help stop spread of Zika virus infections. "Public health threats require data sharing in the interest of the common good," said Bartha Knoppers, an expert on medical data-sharing at McGill University. STAT (2/10), Agence France-Presse (2/10)
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Intelligence chief calls genome editing a security threat
Genome editing technology could be used to create harmful biologic agents or products and thus presents a national security threat, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a report to Congress. STAT (2/10)
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