4th annual Partnering for Cures meeting sparks great discussion, ideas for improving medical research | Obama administration says AIDS-free generation is achievable | Report: Drug firms' R&D efforts could still be improved
December 4, 2012
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Myelin Repair Foundation looks to take charge of MS drug development
Entrepreneur Scott Johnson is positioning his Myelin Repair Foundation as the leader in finding drugs that could reverse multiple sclerosis by repairing the protective lining of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. "The challenge in medical research is that there ultimately is no one in charge," said FasterCures Executive Director Margaret Anderson. The MRF is coordinating research at nine labs and has set up its own research lab in pursuit of results that big drugmakers can easily take to market. Bloomberg Businessweek (11/29)
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News from FasterCures
4th annual Partnering for Cures meeting sparks great discussion, ideas for improving medical research
Last week's Partnering for Cures conference in New York City brought together over 875 of the most forward-thinking innovators from across the medical research ecosystem. Through dozens of panels and presentations focused on everything from novel collaboration models to innovative funding mechanisms to creative clinical trial design, participants explored solutions for improving and speeding research progress, and getting new therapies to patients faster. Don't miss our special recap of the meeting in the FasterCures SmartBrief Special Report on Partnering for Cures, which will be sent on Dec. 14.
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Science and Technology
Obama administration says AIDS-free generation is achievable
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton laid out a plan to achieve an AIDS-free generation during a State Department ceremony last Thursday to recognize World AIDS Day. The framework calls for targeting high-risk populations, providing earlier treatment of HIV infections and implementing faster expansion of proven tools. Yahoo/The Associated Press (11/29)
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Report: Drug firms' R&D efforts could still be improved
Improving research and development efforts, spending on neglected illnesses, innovative partnership and knowledge exchange depict the attempts of the 20 biggest pharmaceutical companies to boost treatment access in developing countries, according to a report by the Access to Medicine Foundation. The report indicated that there is room for improvement since the efforts are not spread evenly to develop treatments for all diseases. "Companies should support R&D capacity building initiatives, but public and philanthropic funders should step up to the plate and take the lead," said Javier Guzman, director of research at Policy Cures, a group working on neglected diseases. SciDev.net (11/30)
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MDxHealth, university establish pharmaco (epi)genomics center
MDxHealth has partnered with Ghent University in Belgium to establish NXTGNT, a center that will focus on pharmaco (epi)genomics research. The center will seek to advance research that will lead to improved individualized epigenetic-based diagnostic and more personalized treatment. The center became operational on Dec. 1. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (11/30)
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Finance and Economics
Partnership receives $2M boost for autism initiative
Delivering Scientific Innovation for Autism and Seaside Therapeutics received a $2 million grant from Autism Speaks to work on new personalized therapies for autism spectrum disorders. The collaboration's goal is to find genes and proteins that can help determine patients who would most likely benefit from arbaclofen treatment. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (12/3)
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Policy and Regulation
Supreme Court will review gene patent case
The Supreme Court agreed to hear a case seeking to negate Myriad Genetics' patents on genes related to breast cancer. Plaintiffs say the patents are invalid because they are on products of nature, but a lower court panel found that the patents are on products obtained in the laboratory as a result of human ingenuity. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (11/30)
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FDA creates collaborative partnership with medical device makers
The FDA and medical device makers formed a nonprofit organization, the Medical Device Innovation Consortium, to work with one another and with patient advocacy groups, CMS, foundations and academia to speed device approvals while protecting patients. "I know there will be real advances and new approaches that will emerge from it," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Becton Dickinson, Abiomed and Cyberonics are among the medical device companies participating in the consortium. Reuters (12/3)
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Senate approves cancer research amendment added to defense bill
The Senate approved the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, which instructs the NIH to create research frameworks for pancreatic and lung cancer. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., put a hold on the bill until last week because he objected to how the measure would serve to micromanage the NIH, saying, "We can serve patients best by allowing NIH to determine how to allocate its funding and manpower." The act was passed as an amendment to a defense bill that the White House has threatened to veto. The Hill/Healthwatch blog (11/29)
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Society and Ethics
Few new drugs for neglected diseases despite spending boost
Product development investment for neglected diseases dropped by 1% between 2007 and 2011, while research and development spending on neglected diseases increased 28% over the same period, according to a survey commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Industry and philanthropists cut or shifted their budgets over the period to focus on a limited number of disease areas with the highest potential for commercialization. The report urges better coordination between governments, philanthropists and industry. PharmaTimes (U.K.) (12/3)
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FDA advisers discuss pediatric cancer meds
A panel of FDA advisers is meeting to discuss testing four drugs with potential to treat childhood cancers. Relatively few children are affected by cancer, making robust clinical trial design difficult. The FDA requires drugmakers to study their products in children if children are prone to the target disease, and new legislation taking effect next month will require those studies even earlier. Bloomberg (12/4)
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