2023-06-17| Special

GeneOnline’s Weekly News Highlights: June 12-16

by GeneOnline
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GeneOnline’s editorial team has compiled a digest of top international biotechnology and healthcare news of the week to help readers keep abreast of global biomedical industry updates.

Novartis’ $3.5B Acquisition of Chinook Therapeutics

On June 12, Novartis announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Chinook Therapeutics, a Seattle-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that is developing two late-stage medicines for treating IgA nephropathy (IgAN). With the transaction expected to be completed during the second half of 2023, the Swiss pharma giant plans to buy Chinook for up to $3.5 billion to expand its renal disease pipeline.

Sanofi Goes “All In” to Lead the AI Revolution in Pharmaceutical Industry

In a press release issued on June 13, French pharma giant Sanofi declared its ambition in embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and data science to accelerate advancements in patient care and “becoming the first pharma company powered by AI at scale.” Through their app plai, developed in partnership with Aily Labs, Sanofi gains real-time insights and a comprehensive view of their activities, supporting informed decision-making across various teams. In addition, the company will utilize AI to expedite drug discovery, enhance clinical trials, improve manufacturing, and optimize supply chains. 

Valneva’s Breakthrough Chikungunya Single-shot Vaccine: Release Phase 3 Data

On June 13, Valneva, a French specialized company in vaccine development, announced the release of its clinical research data for VLA1553, a Phase 3 Chikungunya Vaccine candidate. The publication of research data of VLA1553 can be found in the medical journal The Lancet. The study demonstrates an impressive 98.9% immunological response within 28 days after a single-shot treatment. VLA1553 aims to combat the spread of the Chikungunya virus and will be brought to the market by Valneva, expanding its vaccine portfolio. 

COVID-19 Effect on the Brain Revealed by New MRI Technique

An engineer from the University of Waterloo has made an innovative discovery in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) that provides superior insights into the changes induced by COVID-19 in the human brain. On June 14, Waterloo published a news release about the innovative imaging technique, correlated diffusion imaging (CDI), that was applied in a study conducted by researchers at Sunnybrook Hospital and Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute. The study revealed changes in the brain caused by COVID-19, specially in the frontal lobe and cerebellum, indicating potential impact on brain function. The findings have significant implications for diagnostics and treatments for COVID-19 patients, and the CDI holds potential for other diseases as well. 

Breakthrough in Brain Cancer Treatment: Biodegradable Ultrasound Device Offers Hope 

University of Connecticut researchers reported in the June 14 issue of Science Advances a biodegradable ultrasound device that may lead to a groundbreaking advance in brain cancer treatment. One of the major obstacles in treating brain cancer lies in the delivery of the chemo drug. However, this innovative device has the potential to overcome this challenge, leading to more manageable treatments with a higher survival rate. Made from biodegradable materials, the device has shown efficiency while also ensuring safety. Promising results from mouse trials indicate the potential to revolutionize brain cancer treatment.

Related article: Novel Technique to Deliver Chemotherapy Drug into Human Brains

Unlocking the Secrets of Resistant Breast Cancer: Promising Drug Combination Emerges

In a groundbreaking study published in Cell, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder uncover the adaptive nature of cancer cells when faced with potent CDK2 inhibitors. However, a ray of hope emerges as simultaneous administration of a second widely available drug proves effective in disabling cancer cells and reducing resistant tumors. This research provides valuable insights into enhancing therapies for breast cancer and other diseases by unraveling the complexities of the cell cycle.

Innovative Surgical Sensor Patch: For Sealing Wounds and Detecting Post-Surgery Suture Leaks

On June 15, ETH Zurich published a news release of the research about how they have developed an innovative patch with sensor functionality. This groundbreaking patch is designed to seal abdominal wounds following surgery while also providing an alert for potential suture leaks in the gastrointestinal tract. Made of polymer, the patch serves as an early warning system for impending risky suture leakage. Furthermore, the patch is equipped with non-electronic sensors that react to changes in pH or certain enzymes, providing an early detection of leaks before they become critical. The sensors can be visualized using computer tomography and ultrasound. 

Revolutionizing DNA Sequencing for Cancer Signature Detection

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania developed a new sequencing technique called Direct Methylation Sequencing (DM-Seq). This groundbreaking method is able to directly identify modified cytosines whose abnormal patterns are considered cancer signatures. Unlike previous sequencing techniques, DM-seq utilizes small amounts of DNA, does not damage the DNA, and is able to differentiate between the target modification, 5-methylcytosine (5mC), and the commonly misidentified 5-hydroxymethylcytosine. These improvements over previous methods allow for its use in epigenetic sequencing for the prognosis of cancers.  

Moat Biotechnology Raises $6.5M for Intranasal/Inhaled COVID-19 Vaccine

The first U.S. based company with a viable proof of concept for intranasal/inhaled COVID-19 vaccines, Moat Biotechnology (MoatBio), has announced raising over $6.5 million in its initial fundraising round. The company holds an exclusive patent license from Mayo Clinic for the innovative second-generation single cycle adenovirus vaccination platform (SC-AdVax). This platform aims to develop vaccines that can treat infectious disorders like COVID-19 by eliciting both mucosal and systemic immunity. The funding will support the development of SC-AdVax vaccines for various mucosal infections as well as the ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial for an intranasal/inhaled COVID-19 vaccine boost.

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