GeneOnline’s Weekly News Highlights: Sept 25-Sept 29

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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.

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Updates About the Controversial Drug Price Negotiation Program

As of October 2, all drug manufacturers with products selected for the controversial Medicare drug price negotiations have agreed to participate, even though many of them sued the U.S. government last month to stop it. However, representatives of almost all pharma companies believe that they were forced to do so because they had no choice but to participate in the negotiations owing to the exceptionally severe penalty of refusing to comply. In addition, On September 29, Danish Big Pharma Novo Nordisk became the latest plaintiff joining the litigation against the Biden administration, alleging that the Inflation Reduction Act is unconstitutional and jeopardizes the rights of drugmakers and patients. The updates about the 10 drugs subject to the initial talks in 2023 are listed in the table below:

Takeda and AcuraStem Join Forces for Neurodegenerative Disease Treatment

On September 25, AcuraStem, a California-based biotechnology company specializing in patient-based approaches to neurodegenerative diseases, announced that the company has entered into a license agreement with Takeda, a global pharmaceutical powerhouse, to advance the development and commercialization of PIKFYVE targeted therapeutics. Among the key focuses is AS-202, an antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) designed for the treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). This collaboration marks a pivotal step forward in addressing the pressing unmet needs of patients grappling with neurodegenerative disorders.

Klick Health Launches First ChatGPT Plugin for Life Sciences Companies in the U.S.

Klick Health announced the first ChatGPT plugin for life sciences companies in the U.S. on September 25. Based on OpenAI, the free KlickRx ChatGPT plugin allows life sciences professionals to easily and quickly obtain information within ChatGPT on industry payments to any healthcare professional in the U.S. by simply entering their National Provider Identifier (NPI). This innovation emphasizes the Canadian company’s rich data heritage and continued investment in technology, as well as its commitment to bringing useful and ethical AI tools to the life sciences sector.

Johnson & Johnson Partners with Singapore to Boost Life Sciences Innovation

On September 26, Johnson & Johnson International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. announced its collaboration with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) to fuel innovation within the country’s thriving life sciences ecosystem. This unique partnership will leverage Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS’ services and innovation resources in boosting the region’s innovation output. The primary objective of this collaboration is to support Singapore-based early-stage companies in their quest to expedite novel discoveries into groundbreaking medicines, cutting-edge medical technologies, and innovative healthcare solutions.

Ginkgo Bioworks and Pfizer Forge $331 Million Collaboration for RNA-Based Drug Discovery

On September 27, Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks disclosed a groundbreaking collaboration with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which is set to leverage Ginkgo’s proprietary RNA technology to expedite the development of novel therapeutic agents. Under the terms of the agreement, Ginkgo will receive an impressive $331 million across three key programs, including upfront payment, research fees, and payments upon reaching potential development and commercial milestones. 

Merck KGaA Extends Collaboration with Quris-AI for Groundbreaking Advancements in Drug Safety 

On September 28, Quris-AI, an Israeli artificial intelligence (AI) innovator in the pharmaceutical realm, declared the extension of its collaboration with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany (Merck KGaA). This development builds upon the triumph of their initial partnership initiated in February 2022, with an emphasis on a preclinical study evaluating Quris-AI’s BioAI Drug Safety Platform. The successful study assessed the platform’s efficacy in predicting potential drug toxicity, surpassing traditional in vitro and in vivo approaches.

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