Milken Conference attracts global heavy hitters | Medical research to be highlighted at Global Conference | Financial innovation series highlights DART Therapeutics
April 30, 2013
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FasterCures Conference Update
Milken Conference attracts global heavy hitters
The Milken Institute's annual Global Conference, taking place through Wednesday in Los Angeles, brings together government leaders, as well as thought leaders in health care, finance, philanthropy and many other business sectors. Participants have, in the past, gone on to create joint ventures. "The things they get the most out of are often the smaller panels on topics they don't know anything about," said Milken Institute Chief Executive Michael Klowden. This year's conference features sessions centering on Africa, as well as crowdfunding and the search for a cancer cure. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (4/28)
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Top News
House bill aims to change NSF grant funding criteria
Draft legislation spearheaded by House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith, R-Texas, would allow National Science Foundation grants only for research that advances "the national health, prosperity or welfare;" promotes the "progress of science" to secure the nation's defense; solves problems or answers questions "of utmost importance to society at large;" and does not duplicate funding from any other federal entity. The bill would require the White House's science adviser to study implementing the criteria across other federal science agencies. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, the top Democrat on the committee, said the proposal compromises the merit review process and the NSF's basic research mission. President Barack Obama said in a speech at the National Academy of Sciences annual meeting that science must remain independent and the "rigorous peer review system" currently in place must be protected. blog (4/28), Nature (free content)/News Blog (4/29)
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News from FasterCures
Medical research to be highlighted at Global Conference
View FasterCures’ coverage of the Global Conference health panels on Twitter by following #2013GC and read session summaries and watch videos on Tumblr.
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Financial innovation series highlights DART Therapeutics
In this month's series on novel R&D funding models, FasterCures profiles DART Therapeutics, which was created in 2010 by two venture philanthropies to focus specifically on targets for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare disease. Since its creation, DART has received $10 million in investments from its network of 15 foundations and other supporters and is now seeking venture capital investment. Read this month's case study.
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Science and Technology
Scientists continue to increase understanding of HIV/AIDS
As scientists learn more about how HIV replicates and changes cells, they move closer to finding effective treatments and a potential cure for AIDS. They are also learning to identify which patients can safely stop treatment, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Meanwhile, public health officials should actively identify HIV carriers so that they can get early treatment, which has been shown to reduce transmission risk and extend survival, experts say. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (4/29)
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10 developments that help fight malaria
A list from The Guardian details 10 innovations that hold promise for preventing or treating malaria. Among the developments nominated by readers are a nanotechnology-based device that can be used to diagnose malaria from a finger prick of blood in 15 minutes and a needleless diagnostic application that uses a light sensor. The Guardian (London) (4/29)
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Finance and Economics
Cancer clinics: Treat our cuts as seriously as FAA furloughs
Reduced federal spending at cancer clinics due to the sequester is far more serious than cuts faced by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to interviews at cancer clinics Friday. Cancer care should be given higher priority by Congress, they said. "Having to wait for a plane can be frustrating; having to wait for cancer treatment can be much more serious. ... If Washington can protect business travelers, they should protect cancer patients, too," the Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center's Todd O'Connell said. The Hill/Healthwatch blog (4/28)
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Female angel investors in biotech, health sectors doubled in 2012
The percentage of female angel investors in the biotech and health care sectors increased from 11% two years ago to 22% last year, according to a report from the University of New Hampshire's Center for Venture Research. The report attributes the growth to a rise in the number of female-led angel investment groups, as well as more women having influence in other angel investment firms, and the fact that women now outnumber men at universities. (4/25)
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Pharma giants announce diabetes drug partnership
Merck and Pfizer announced plans to combine Merck's DPP-4 inhibitor Januvia with Pfizer's SGLT-2 inhibitor ertugliflozin to treat type 2 diabetes. Merck paid Pfizer $60 million and will split costs and revenue 60-40 with Pfizer. "This is like the Yankees and Red Sox combining their scouting departments," former Pfizer research chief John LaMattina wrote on Twitter, but Diabetic Investor publisher David Kliff said the resulting drug will be just "another tool in the toolbox." blog (4/29)
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EU awards $7.8M for kidney transplant biomarker development
The European Commission is providing 13 research groups in Europe with $7.8 million to create biomarker-based tools for evaluating the health of patients who have undergone kidney transplants. The consortium, also known as BIOMARGIN, will develop noninvasive ways to detect allograft lesions and improve the survival of the kidney and patient over the long term. GenomeWeb Daily News (free registration) (4/26)
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Policy and Regulation
Deadline nears for NIH ADDS applications
The NIH will begin reviewing applications May 13 to fill the new position of Associate Director for Data Science. The successful applicant will report to NIH Director Francis Collins, chair the trans-NIH Scientific Data Council and advise NIH institutes on bioinformatics, computational biology, biomedical informatics, biostatistics, information science and quantitative biology. The NIH said the position presents "a unique and exciting opportunity to provide critical leadership for basic and translational research." Bio-IT World (4/29)
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Society and Ethics
Task force recommends widespread HIV screening
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has updated its guidelines to recommend that all patients ages 15 to 65 undergo HIV screening regardless of whether they are considered to be at risk. The task force said identifying and addressing HIV in asymptomatic individuals may benefit the general public. It has also renewed its call for the screening of all pregnant women to help prevent mother-to-child transmission. The recommendations appear in the Annals of Internal Medicine. (free registration) (4/29), Medscape (free registration) (4/29)
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Health is suffering under austerity measures, study finds
The impact of austerity measures can be seen in reduced access to prescription drugs and other care as well as in measures of mental health and infectious disease in North America and Europe, according to researchers David Stuckler of Oxford University and Sanjay Basu of Stanford University. "The harms we have found include HIV and malaria outbreaks, shortages of essential medicines, lost healthcare access, and an avoidable epidemic of alcohol abuse, depression and suicide," Stuckler said. Reuters (4/28)
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FasterCures is an action tank that works across sectors and diseases to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the medical research enterprise. FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, is nonpartisan and independent of interest groups.
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