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2023-09-26|

GeneOnline’s Weekly News Highlights: Sept 17-Sept 22

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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: Deceptive Health Advice on TikTok Raises Concerns About Gynecologic Cancer Misinformation

Samsung Biologics Announces Further Cancer Collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb 

On September 17, Samsung Biologics announced a new agreement with Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) for large-scale manufacturing of an unnamed commercial cancer antibody developed by the American Big Pharma. BMS and Samsung Biologics have an existing manufacturing agreement for a commercial antibody cancer drug and have expanded the strategic relationship over time. Under the terms of the new agreement, Samsung Biologics will provide drug substance manufacturing for an antibody cancer drug substance at the company’s latest and largest biomanufacturing facility in Songdo, South Korea. According to the revised version of the new contract (as of September 25), the deal is worth 359.3 billion Korean won (about $268 million).

RayzeBio Successfully Closes Upsized $358 Million IPO

RayzeBio, a targeted radiopharmaceutical company developing an innovative pipeline against validated solid tumor targets, officially closed its upsized initial public offering (IPO) of $358 million on September 19, marking one of the biggest biotech IPOs so far in 2023. The offering comprised 19,869,240 common shares from the California-based pharma company, priced at $18.00 per share for the public. The aggregate gross proceeds to RayzeBio totaled approximately $336.7 million. Trading commenced on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol “RYZB” on September 15, 2023, with J.P. Morgan, Jefferies, Evercore ISI, and Truist Securities serving as joint book-running managers for the offering.

Neuralink Initiates Recruitment for Groundbreaking Brain-Computer Interface Clinical Trial

On September 19, Elon Musk’s Neuralink announced that it has obtained approval from the independent institutional review board and its inaugural hospital site to commence recruitment for the first-in-human clinical trial of their implantable brain-computer interfaces (BCI). Termed the PRIME Study, it stands for ‘Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface.’ This pioneering medical device trial focuses on assessing the safety of their implant (N1) and surgical robot (R1), while also evaluating the initial functionality of the BCI. The BCI aims to empower individuals with paralysis to control external devices solely through their thoughts. The PRIME Study, conducted under the FDA’s investigational device exemption (IDE) granted in May 2023, signifies a significant stride in Neuralink’s quest to develop a universal brain interface. Eligibility for participation includes individuals with quadriplegia due to cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Consumption of Ultra-processed Food May Contribute to Increased Depression Risk

Published in the journal JAMA Network Open on September 20, an observational cohort study conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health showed that increased consumption of ultra-processed food and drinks, especially those artificially sweetened, may be linked to the development of depression in females. The study examined the diets of nearly 32,000 middle-aged women and suggested an association between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and depression, with about 50% higher risk for those consuming 9 portions or more per day compared to those consuming 4 portions or less.

UK Study Shows Linkage Between Long COVID and Multiple Organ Abnormalities

Published in the journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine on September 22, a UK study reveals that long COVID might cause long-term damage to multiple organs. The observational cohort study is the first to look at magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of multiple organs, including the brain, heart, liver, kidneys and lungs after being hospitalized with moderate to severe COVID. It compared the organ scans of 259 adults hospitalized with COVID across the UK in 2020-2021 with a control group of 52 people who never contracted the virus. Nearly a third of the COVID patients had abnormalities in more than one organ an average of five months after leaving hospital. According to the article, those hospitalized with COVID were 14 times more likely to have lung abnormalities and were three times more likely to have abnormalities in their brain.

Taiwan-based Biotech Company Announces Nobel Chemistry Laureate as Chief Scientific Advisor

Acepodia, a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing first-in-class cell therapies with its unique Antibody-Cell Conjugation (ACC) and allogeneic gamma delta 2 T-cell platforms to address gaps in cancer care, has announced the appointment of Dr. Carolyn R. Bertozzi, the 2022 Nobel Chemistry Laureate, as Chief Scientific Advisor. Dr. Bertozzi’s work applying the award-winning click chemistry to living cells is the basis of Acepodia’s ACC platform, and her expertise will support the development and innovation of the Taiwan-based company’s differentiated therapeutic approach.

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