October 26, 2021
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The global community has failed to use tools at its disposal to fight COVID-19, and the pandemic will end only when countries and vaccine makers cooperate to ensure rapid, equitable distribution of vaccines, says World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. WHO Regional Director for Health Emergencies Programme Babatunde Olowokure says countries should prepare for "sporadic outbreaks" and the possibility that COVID-19 will never fully disappear.
Full Story: The Brussels Times online (Belgium) (10/25),  ABS-CBN Interactive (10/25) 
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Patient Engagement
How researchers are improving clinical trial diversity
Clinical trial sponsors, academic research centers and the NIH are taking steps to expand both overall participation in clinical trials and diversity in clinical trial volunteer pools by making it easier for people who don't live near large academic medical centers to participate. Other steps to improve diversity include training investigators on implicit bias, revisiting strict eligibility criteria and establishing interagency collaborations.
Full Story: Healio (free registration)/HemOnc Today (10/25) 
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Sickle Cell Disease Association of America CEO Beverley Francis-Gibson enlisted Forma Therapeutics to develop a clinical trial locator that will soon be available as a smartphone app. Users can find clinical trials by location and type of trial, as well as learn about the different types of clinical trials.
Full Story: The Baltimore Sun (tiered subscription model) (10/26) 
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Science and Technology
Tiny fruit fly brain yields big insights
Fruit flies have around 100,000 neurons and tens of millions of synapses in their tiny but complex brains, and a project led by Google and Janelia Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to map the fruit fly connectome has yielded insight into how the little insects navigate and select and execute behaviors appropriate to the circumstances. The research, which may translate to human brains, involves using focused-ion beam scanning electron microscopes, computer vision software, advanced machine-learning algorithms and other state-of-the-art equipment and computational tools.
Full Story: The New York Times (10/26) 
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Bacteria in narrow channels like capillaries and alveoli don't appear to develop genetic resistance to bacteria-attacking viruses, or bacteriophages, but they do "downregulate" the number of receptors in their cell walls that phages use to kill them. The finding, reported in PLOS Biology, suggests that promoting the production of phage receptors in bacteria could make phages more effective alternatives to antibiotics, says co-author Edze Westra.
Full Story: Medical News Today (10/19) 
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After years of disappointment and some high-profile failures, gene therapies have begun succeeding thanks to the continuing dedication of both scientists and volunteers for clinical trials. Scientists have learned more about viral vectors and safety and are finding ways to minimize side effects and risks.
Full Story: Scientific American (tiered subscription model) (11/2021) 
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Finance and Economics
Scientists at Moderna had been working on messenger RNA-based vaccines long before SARS-CoV-2 began spreading throughout the world, and the company produced a promising COVID-19 candidate mere weeks after the virus' genomic sequence was released. But Moderna lacked the funds to obtain needed materials because some investors did not see the value in pursuing a COVID-19 vaccine at the time, and the company came close to failure.
Full Story: STAT (tiered subscription model) (10/26) 
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The White House will spend $70 million to accelerate development of COVID-19 tests for home use to make the tests more accessible and lower their costs. The NIH Independent Test Assessment Program will set up an accelerated pathway to support FDA assessment of COVID-19 tests for potential large-scale manufacturing and identify and assist manufacturers in development of their products.
Full Story: United Press International (10/25) 
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Egle Therapeutics raised $46.4 million through a Series A round on Friday. The biotech was spun off from Institut Curie in Paris and is focused on advancing the development of next-gen immunotherapies involving regulatory T cells, or Tregs.
Full Story: Endpoints News (free registration) (10/22) 
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Policy and Regulation
New draft guidance from the FDA outlines standards for developers planning to submit drug and biological product study data based on real-world data sources. According to the guidance, RWD submissions must comply with data standards set forth in the agency's Data Standards Catalog, and "[s]ponsors should also document in their applicable drug submission changes to data to conform to the current FDA-supported data standards, and the potential impacts of these changes," according to the guidance.
Full Story: Regulatory Focus (10/22) 
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FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, is driven by a singular goal: to save lives by speeding up and improving the medical research system. The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, non-partisan think tank determined to increase global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs, and improve health.
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