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Biotech Briefing: First Cell-Based Gene Therapy Approved in the...

September 12, 2017 Comments (0) Views: 147 Biotech, Biotech Briefing, Blog

Biotech Briefing: Ligand Announces Positive Data for Diabetes Drug

Plus: NuVasive expands its San Diego headquarters, and a new combo treatment shows promise for metastatic melanoma patients

Reports + Research

Ligand Has Positive Phase 2 Data for Diabetes Drug

Ligand announced positive top-line clinical data on LGD-6972, a small molecule glucagon receptor antagonist. The drug was tested in type 2 diabetes patients but could also be applicable in type 1 diabetes to help “reduce daily insulin requirements and improve glucose control throughout the day.” The full data set is expected to be presented at a future scientific conference.

 

NuVasive Acquisition and HQ Expansion

NuVasive’s good news keeps coming. After announcing a restructuring, they have announced a 510(k) clearance for a redesigned product, an acquisition of Vertera Spine, and an expansion of their San Diego headquarters, adding more than 100,000 square feet to bring the total space to around 250,000 square feet. See their recent press releases here.

 

New Combo Treatment Shows Promise for Metastatic Melanoma Patients

Phase 1b results showed a 62% response rate when patients with metastatic melanoma were treated with a combination of the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab and an oncolytic virus called T-VEC. The response rate is higher than what would have been expected with either treatment alone. An international, multicenter Phase 3 clinical trial has begun recruiting patients to study the combo treatment against pembrolizumab. More on the results here.

 

Exagen Diagnostics Raises Series F Financing

Exagen announced a combo equity and debt financing of $48 million. The company develops diagnostic, prognostic, and drug monitoring tests for autoimmune connective tissue diseases.

 

An Exciting Time for Medical Research

In a Bloomberg interview, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, discusses the improvements in medicine related to mapping and sequencing the human genetic code. In 2011, on the 10th anniversary of this achievement, some news articles questioned the slow pace of translation into medical advancement, but Collins says that’s not the case today. In fact, medical research is progressing, “at a pace now that would be unimaginable a few decades ago.” Interview clips are here and here.

 

Interested in Pursuing a Career in Drug Development?

​UC San Diego’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is offering its first master’s degree program. Called a Master of Science in Drug Development and Product Management, the program will educate on managerial and regulatory knowledge required to lead all aspects of the drug development process, from discovery to clinical application. The program is now accepting applications at ddpm.ucsd.edu for Fall 2018.

 

The Face in the Genome: Follow Up

(Competitor) criticism, Venter rebuttal, and a Twitter poll have followed last week’s Human Longevity publication, which described using human genome sequence data and machine learning to predict individual faces and physical traits. Despite the criticism, the study raises serious privacy questions for the genomics industry that “anonymous” genomes stored on public databases may be linked back to individual persons.

 

Awards + Honors

People in the News

Salk’s president, Elizabeth Blackburn is honored by TIME in the magazine’s FIRSTS project, which celebrates “women who broke ground in their fields” and “played pioneers in history.” Blackburn has certainly made her mark in science. Along with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2009 for their research on the importance of chromosome telomeres. This award comes amidst two gender discrimination lawsuits brought against Salk by two tenured professors at the institute.

Vividion signs up the founder of Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centers and JLABS, Diego Miralles, M.D., as CEO and Richard Heyman, Ph.D., formerly CEO of Aragon and Seragon, as a member of the company’s board of directors.

Former Receptos President and CEO Faheem Hasnain joins as chairman of Vital Therapies’ board of directors.

 

Read + Listen

Back to School – What Are You Reading?

Nature suggests these five science books. What would you suggest?

 

POW! Podcast of the Week

I do love baseball. In preparation for next week’s San Diego: Life. Changing. night at Petco Park, listen to this podcast discussing why the big sports arena stadiums failed baseball and how the intimate city designs of new ball parks, like ours, better facilitate the enjoyment of the game.

If videos are more your thing, check out Big3Bio’s YouTube playlist from those in the San Diego-area life sciences community.

 

Events

It’s Happening Here

September 21:
Happy Hour with San Diego Entrepreneurs Exchange. Stop by New English Brewing Company in Sorrento Valley for happy hour. Registration is free, but the beer will be on your own tab.

September 27-28:
11th Annual Pain & Migraine Therapeutics Summit: September 27-28 in downtown San Diego.

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