GeneOnline’s Weekly News Highlights: Sept 11-Sept 15

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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.

Related article: Long COVID’s Mental Health Toll: Understanding the Challenges

Creator of Dolly the Sheep Dies at Age 79

Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, the scientist who led the team that cloned Dolly the Sheep, died last week at the age of 79. The researcher’s death comes five years after he revealed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Dolly’s creation in 1996, cloned from an adult sheep’s cell, was arguably one of the greatest scientific achievements of the 20th Century that sparked both excitement and concerns about human cloning. While the immediate focus shifted away from human cloning, Wilmut’s work laid the foundation for therapeutic cloning and the development of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), which hold promise for treating various diseases and extending human lifespan.

FDA Updates Emergency Use Authorization List for COVID Vaccines 

Since early July, the number of COVID-19 hospital admissions across the U.S. has increased dramatically from about 6,500 to more than 20,000 (as of September 9). In the wake of COVID resurgence, the U.S. FDA approved and authorized updated COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use on September 11, which have been formulated to more accurately target currently circulating variants and are more effective in protecting against the serious consequences of this disease. The newly authorized mRNA vaccines include Comirnaty, co-developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, and Moderna’s Spikevax, both of them have been updated to include a monovalent (single) component that corresponds to the Omicron variant XBB.1.5. 

Novartis’ Generic-drugs Unit Partners with Samsung Bioepis for Biosimilar Drug Launch

In a strategic move aimed at expanding its footprint in the biosimilars market, Sandoz, Novartis’ generic-drugs unit, announced its plans on September 11 to launch a generic version of Stelara, a monoclonal antibody medication for treating autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This endeavor is the result of a collaboration deal between Sandoz and Korea’s Samsung Bioepis. Under this partnership, Sandoz has secured exclusive rights to commercialize the biosimilar product in the U.S., Canada, and most of Europe. Other specific terms of the agreement are confidential. Samsung Bioepis’ clinical development programme for the Stelara biosimilar is well-advanced and Sandoz is confident about its potential success in the market.

Eisai Establishes a New Digital Business Company to Build Dementia Ecosystem

Tokyo-based Eisai announced on September 12 that it has established an independent digital business company which will accelerate the development of a dementia ecosystem. Known as Theoria Technologies, the company will commence business activities in April 2024 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Eisai, with the aim of developing a risk prediction algorithm for early detection of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia by FY2024. As the core of a highly transparent and neutral dementia platform, Theoria Technologies will serve as the foundation for the development of an ecosystem aimed at empowering individuals with dementia, regardless of their type or stage of the disease.

Takeda Announces Five New Partnerships to Strengthen Global Health Systems

On September 13, Japanese Big Pharma Takeda unveiled five new partnerships as part of its Global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program. These partnerships aim to bolster health systems in low- and middle-income countries, marking a significant step towards addressing global health challenges. Takeda’s commitment to these initiatives includes a total contribution of ¥24.2 billion (Approx. $167.5 million) across 29 long-term partnerships, involving the active participation of over 24,500 dedicated employees in the decision-making process. The company anticipates that these new collaborations will positively impact 25.2 million people across 92 countries by 2028.

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