Emily BurkeCRISPR/Cas9, Diagnostics, genome editing

CRISPR’s GENOME DETECTIVES Last week, we reviewed how CRISPR works and its potential to revolutionize genetic therapies. Here we look at how scientists have started using this technology to develop new diagnostics. Media attention has been focusing almost exclusively on how scientists use CRISPR to edit DNA. But as you read last week, the biotech industry has begun to turn … Read More

Taking a Swing at Peanut Allergies

Emily BurkeThe WEEKLY

HOW DO ALLERGIES DEVELOP? Every summer, watching a game at the ballpark and digging into a bag of peanuts is a source of entertainment for many Americans. For the 15 million who suffer from peanut allergies, the idea of being taken out to the ballgame elicits concern — or even anxiety. Food allergies — think tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, … Read More

Papa’s Got a Brand New Lab Coat

Emily BurkeBiosensors, synthetic biology, Zika

Papa’s Got a Brand New Lab Coat Last month, Johnson & Johnson (New Brunswick, NJ) announced the winners of its “Lab Coat of the Future” competition. This contest challenged participants to combine new technology and good design to transform the age-old symbol of science and medicine—the white lab coat—into a symbol of breakthrough innovation. The winners, a group of researchers … Read More

$8.7 Billion SMA Drug Explained

Emily BurkeGene Therapy, Orphan Drugs, SMA

The Science Behind the Deal Earlier this week, news of the $8.7 billion acquisition of gene therapy company AveXis (Bannockburn, IL) by Novartis (Basel, Switzerland) made big biotech headlines. AveXis’ lead candidate, AVXS-101, is now in Phase III clinical studies for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). In this Weekly, we’ll take a look at the science behind these headlines by explaining exactly … Read More

Turning On Cellular Garbage Disposals

Emily BurkeDrug Discovery, Drug Targets, Proteasomes

Proteasomes to the Rescue Many drugs work by stopping overactive proteins that cause disease. The leukemia drug Gleevec, for example, is a small-molecule inhibitor (antagonist) of the protein Bcr-Abl, whose over-activity promotes excessive cell division. Humira treats a range of autoimmune diseases by stopping TNF-alpha, a protein that activates inflammation. Such antagonists can be powerful. However, it’s not always possible … Read More

Cancer Diagnostic In A Drop

Emily BurkeDiagnostics, Liquid biopsy

THE LATEST IN CANCER DIAGNOSTICS Hearing the words “it might be cancer” paired with your doctor’s perplexed look is enough to send shock waves through your body. Getting to the heart of a diagnosis usually requires a surgical biopsy—removal and examination of the suspected tissue for visible signs of cancer. Less invasive diagnostic tests—called liquid biopsies—might just bring more choices … Read More

Exploring Different Strategies to Fight Alzheimer’s

Emily BurkeAlzheimer's Disease, Drug Development, Drug Discovery, Drug Targets

TAKE THAT, ALZHEIMER’S Alzheimer’s pernicious amyloid-beta plaques and tau tangles, discussed last week, remain important targets for the biotech industry. In the past few years, however, companies have begun to search more broadly for new treatments. This Weekly looks at products in development that use different strategies to fight this heartbreaking illness. REVIVING THE BRAIN? Loss of neurons is Alzheimer’s … Read More

Alzheimer’s Disease: A Tough Nut To Crack

Emily BurkeAlzheimer's Disease, The WEEKLY

AFFECTING 5.1 MILLION Alzheimer’s disease (AD) ranks as one of the toughest nuts to crack within drug discovery and development. Current treatments merely manage symptoms, so finding a better solution becomes more and more urgent as the aging population grows. Approximately 70 percent of dementia cases are caused by AD. It is a neurodegenerative disorder— neurons progressively lose structure and … Read More

Meatless Meat: Biotech Burger Ain’t No Bean Patty

Emily BurkeGMO, Sustainability

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: MEATLESS MEAT? Imagine biting into a juicy cheeseburger: the flavor, the texture, the smell. Now, imagine the cheeseburger meatless. Impossible? No. Impossible Foods, a Redwood City, CA-based company has used biotechnology to create a plant-based burger amazingly similar to the bovine original. In this edition of the Biotech Primer Weekly, we examine how they did it. UNCOVERING THE … Read More

Who’s Your Daddy? The Science of 23andMe

Emily BurkeDNA Ancestry

Hey—Check Out Those Genes! There’s an old saying, “If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you can’t know where you’re going.” We used to rely on paper birth certificates, marriage licenses and memory to help discover where we’ve come from; but paper gets damaged, people are fallible, and memories fade. Leave it to biotech to come up with a … Read More

From Drug Development to Approval: A Recap

Emily BurkeClinical Trials, Drug Approvals, Drug Development, Drug Discovery, Drug Targets, FDA

From The Lab To The Patient In this issue of the Biotech Primer WEEKLY we will recap the past seven issues that highlight the journey a molecule takes from the lab to the patient. Beginning in the 1980’s, scientists took a new tack in developing drugs. They adopted an approach known as rational drug discovery. Using this methodology, researchers first … Read More

Market Access

Linda LanderDrug Approvals, Market Access, The WEEKLY

Market Access Primer  For the last few weeks we here at Biotech Primer have tracked the progression of a drug candidate from the lab to the marketplace, where only the fittest survive. Winning at clinical trials means earning an official regulatory approval. Congratulations! But as any seasoned drug developer will tell you, the game has only just begun. Ensuring newly-approved … Read More

From Drug Development To Approval: Phase IV

Emily BurkeClinical Trials, Cocktail Fodder, Drug Approvals, Drug Development, FDA, Orphan Drugs

Pharma Finish Line: FDA Approval Last week, we focused on the final stage of clinical testing, Phase III trials, where drug developers assess the safety and efficacy of their drug in large patient groups. At the end of Phase III, drug developers face the moment of truth: does the study data support claims that the new drug is both safe … Read More