In the midst of rethinking its approach to R&D, AstraZeneca has dabbled in the virtual model of drug development, matching a small in-house staff with collaborators on contractors around the globe to make the process more efficient. Now, after some early success in neuroscience, the pharma giant is amping up its virtual efforts in oncology, signing a deal with a South Korean institution to hunt for new targets in the field.
Reaping the benefits of deep-seated R&D reorganization, GlaxoSmithKline had the industry's best 6-year run of FDA nods for new drugs, according to EvaluatePharma, leading its competitors by a wide margin and leaving approval-starved outfits like Eli Lilly and Merck in the dust.
One of the signal achievements for the biotech industry in the Affordable Care Act was a provision granting 12 years of market exclusivity to biologics. The decade-plus period of protection against generic competition ensured that biologics would remain center stage in the R&D world, especially as Big Pharma tumbled over the patent cliff as it tried to rethink its megablockbuster-sized budgets for drug development.
Gene editing pioneer Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania is back in the headlines. The academic investigator--heralded for his work on a gene editing technique now being tested for cancer--led a team of scientists who successfully used zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) technology from Sangamo to tailor their T cells, essentially locking a back door used by the lethal virus.
A team of U.S. and South African researchers has identified and cloned an antibody that targets one of the few unchanging regions of HIV.
The success of Australia's HPV vaccination catch-up program has given the country a world-leading trove of real-world data on the effectiveness of Merck's Gardasil. By mining this database, researchers have estimated the vaccine halves the risk of young women developing high-grade cervical abnormalities.
Debiopharm, the Swiss diagnostics and drug conglomerate, committed $6 million in new financing to a startup focused on developing a late-stage sepsis test.
A study of a vaginal ring for the prevention of HIV came back with mixed results. The ring, which delivers two drugs, was safe for 28 days, but only one of the antiretroviral drugs was effective in protecting against the virus.
Merck and its biotech partner are working to build a franchise of allergy immunotherapies, and their latest effort, an oral treatment for house dust mite reactions, improved symptoms in a mid-stage study.
Roche's lebrikizumab significantly reduced the rate of asthma attacks in patients with a severe form of the disease, according to mid-stage trial results, lighting the way for a Phase III study on the novel, personalized treatment.