Therapeutic Areas

 

Influenza: So S’not Funny

Happy Flu Season! A throbbing headache, fever, chills—if you’ve ever enjoyed a few days off courtesy of influenza, you’ve got good reason to embrace the simple flu shot. Every year, millions of us roll up our sleeves and take our medicine. This WEEKLY reviews the ABCs of the flu virus and what you need to know about the vaccine.

emily burke
Emily Burke, PhD

Author

Emily Burke, PhD has worked in biopharma for 20 years, gaining science writing experience at The Scripps Research Institute and ISIS Pharmaceuticals. As a PhD molecular biologist, she is passionate about advancing the public’s understanding of science. In addition to being a self-proclaimed “science geek,” she is regularly asked to speak at international scientific meetings worldwide. When not teaching and writing the WEEKLY for Biotech Primer, Dr. Burke swims with her swim club and performs regularly on the improv circuit in San Diego.

Articles

Phage Therapy: New Hope For Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Old Way Of Fighting Bacteria Renewed One of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century is antibiotic resistance, which occurs when a few bacteria in a given population develop a genetic mutation that enables them to survive — even in the presence of...

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Breaking Bad With SCLC & NSCLC

Breaking Down Lung Cancer  The hit TV series Breaking Bad features anti-hero Walter White, who starts out as a sympathetic character: a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher with a nagging cough that turns out to be lung cancer. Money problems precipitated by...

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Rare Disease Focus: PKU

Biopharma To The Rescue: PKU The ubiquitous soda can. Who hasn’t seen one? Ever look on the back, at the disturbingly long paragraph of ingredients? The list of ingredients on the back of a can of diet soda are perhaps even more unsettling. Underneath it, there’s a...

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Groundbreaking Migraine Drug Explained

FIRST IN CLASS MIGRAINE APPROVAL Last month the FDA approved Amgen’s (Thousand Oaks, CA) new migraine drug Aimovig, the first drug shown to prevent the onset of migraines. The drug significantly reduces the number of migraine days in difficult-to-treat (those that...

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Ticked Off: The Science Behind Lyme Disease

Ticked Off: The Science Behind Lyme Disease Alleluia! Spring! It means the promise of more time in the fresh air – gardening, camping, or just enjoying the sunshine. Unfortunately, time outdoors increases the risk of contracting Lyme disease. As you may know, this...

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Exploring Different Strategies to Fight Alzheimer’s

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...

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Alzheimer’s Disease: A Tough Nut To Crack

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....

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The Science Behind Opioid Addiction

THE SCIENCE BEHIND OPIOIDS Concerns over the opioid epidemic continue to grow, with deaths from narcotic overdoses the leading cause of death in people under 50 last year. Nearly half of those deaths were attributable to prescription opioids. The directors of both the...

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Off-Color: The Science Behind Color Vision Deficiency

You’re at the supermarket, puzzling over whether those peaches for the pie are ripe. Maybe you’re watching your child’s soccer team, and struggling to separate the Green Hornets from the Scarlet Knights. As if determining offsides isn’t hard enough! Or more seriously,...

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The Multiple Myeloma Landscape

BLOOD CANCER: MULTIPLE MYELOMA Plasma cells are the antibody-producing cells of our immune system which happen to play a critical role in our defense against infections. In multiple myeloma, plasma cells begin to grow and divide in an uncontrolled manner, forming a...

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The Gut-Brain Axis

DECODING THE GUT-BRAIN AXIS There is no shortage of microbiome-focused startups in biotech right now. The link between the gut microbiome — the entire collection of microbes living in the gut — and diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease are well-established. New...

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Stopping A Big Problem: Blood Clots

MEDS FOR THINNER BLOOD CAN EQUAL FEWER CLOTS, BUT HOW? The FDA's recent approval of Portola Pharmaceuticals' (South San Francisco, CA) new blood thinner drug Bevyxxa paved the way for the prevention of blood clots in patients hospitalized for conditions such as heart...

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The PARP Race Is On

PARP1 INHIBITOR LINEUP PARP1 inhibitors are making a strong statement! Tesaro's (Waltham, MA) just-approved Zejula has garnered predictions of blockbuster status. AstraZeneca's (Cambridge, UK) Lynparza was the first PARP1 inhibitor to make it to market back in 2014,...

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The Mechanics Of Melanoma

Spectrum Of Therapies Melanoma accounts for less than 1% of skin cancer cases yet causes the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. If detected early enough, melanoma is almost always curable. If not, its ability to metastasize makes it difficult to treat. Melanoma is...

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New Hope For Spinal Muscular Atrophy

FIRST THERAPY APPROVED FOR SMA Squeaking by on December 23rd as the last new drug approval of 2016, Biogen’s (Cambridge, MA) Spinraza now provides hope for the thousands of families affected by a debilitating neuromuscular disorder known as spinal muscular atrophy...

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Decoding The Gut-Brain Axis

Microbiome & Disease The biotech world is abuzz with talk of the latest microbiome startup launch Axial Biotherapeutics (Boston, MA). What caught our eye here at the WEEKLY is the company’s focus on the gut microbiome — the entire collection of microbes living in...

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The Science Behind The Opioid Epidemic

A Big Pain The opioid addiction crisis gained attention at the highest levels of U.S. policy circles this past year. Presidential candidates that disagreed on nearly everything else vowed to make fighting the epidemic a priority if elected. In July, the U.S. Senate...

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The Molecular Cause Of Obesity

Targeting Fat Obesity is considered one of the most pressing public health issues of the day. According to the Center for Disease Control, 37% of adults and 17% of children in the U.S. are obese. The latest drug interventions work by attempting to suppress food...

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Killing Cancer At Its Stem Cell Origin

Killing Cancer When it comes to killing cancer, eradicating every single cell is the goal. But did you know there are different kinds of cancer cells? One specific type, called cancer stem cells (CSC), is catching the eye of drug developers. Discovered more than a...

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The First Three-Parent Baby

BREAKING DOWN THE SCIENCE & SCRUTINY “World’s First Three-Parent Baby” made headlines in publications ranging from Nature to CNN last week. This human interest story is of a baby boy born in Mexico with genetic material from three different parents, achieved by a...

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Zika On The Brain

The Latest On The Rise Of Zika The spread of the Zika virus is raising alarm bells in the United States, and Congress has yet to pass any legislation to combat the fight. Zika infections reported in Miami confirm the virus’ stateside arrival, pushing residents to take...

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The Long And Short Of AMD

A Spotlight On One Of The Most Prevalent Eye Diseases It's easy to take our ability to see for granted. On a day-to-day basis, we rely on vision to process information and to navigate the world without giving it a second thought. For the millions of people affected by...

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The Next Generation Fight Against Cystic Fibrosis

TARGETING THE ROOT OF CYSTIC FIBROSIS Innovative therapies targeting the root cause of cystic fibrosis (CF) hit the market several years ago, but those treatments were only for a subset of CF patients.  Now, companies like AbbVie and Vertex may have the potential to...

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Antibiotic Resistance

THE STATE OF ANTIBACTERIALS One of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century is antibiotic resistance, which occurs when a few bacteria in a given population develop a genetic mutation that enables them to survive—even in the presence of antibiotics....

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The Plight & Promise of p53

A Holy Grail? What if scientists could identify a mutated gene that accounts for more than half of all cancerous tumors? This gene would become a holy grail of cancer research. This gene exists, and it is called p53. The name p53 refers to its molecular...

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On A Tumor’s Turf

TACKLING THE SPACE AROUND SOLID TUMORS Covering the science behind T-cell-based immunotherapies has been the name of the game for our past couple of issues. CAR-T and TCR therapies show significant promise in early phase blood cancer clinical trials, but what about...

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Battling CLL: Venclexta

 Pushing the Self-Destruct Button Breakthrough drug Venclexta charged onto the marketplace three months early to battle chronic lymphocytic leukemia. AbbVie’s (North Chicago, IL) and Roche’s (Basel, Switzerland) new therapy gained a quick approval after 80% of...

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Unmasking Multiple Sclerosis

 Many Channels Available To Impede MS Progression Continuing our series on central nervous system (CNS) disorders—previously covering Alzheimer's and Huntington's—we pivot to unmask Multiple Sclerosis this week. Famous faces suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS)...

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The Hurdles Of Huntington’s

The Hurdles Of Huntington's The nervous system is an incredibly complex piece of human machinery, stretching to the far reaches of the body while controlling and receiving the nuances of life from a central command station. Just like any part of the human body, the...

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Biotech Battles Zika

Latest Mosquito-Borne Disease Outbreak The buzz around the Zika virus isn't going to die down anytime soon. The global health threat is dominating the news while the Brazilian outbreak threatens to spread to the rest of the Americas. As the ramifications of the virus...

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Stomach Stapling Paves A Pathway

Identifying Gut Proteins To Tackle Metabolic Disorders Historians of science love to tell about “eureka moments”—simple observations leading to major insight. Greek mathematician Archimedes allegedly exclaimed the original “Eureka!”—meaning “I have found it!”—upon...

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Interrupting HIV

Therapies In HIV Pipeline Medicine has made gigantic strides in understanding and treating the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) since its emergence in the early 1980s. Thanks to robust drug discovery efforts, today HIV is managed as a chronic disease instead of the...

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The ABCs Of Hepatitis

Hepatitis Viruses Explained Curing disease is serious business. Lou Reed, the infamous leader of the rock band Velvet Underground, died in 2013 of complications from hepatitis C and liver disease. Death is the most profound fear for people living with hepatitis C, but...

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Feeding Cancer

The Metabolics Of Cancer Tackling cancer requires a multi-pronged strategy. Currently, many of the cancer drugs on the market work by inhibiting the signaling pathways that activate cell division. These pathways are often the root cause of cancer—a mutated gene leads...

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Deciphering Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

THE ROOT OF DUCHENNE MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY World Duchenne Awareness Day called attention to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) this past Monday. Affecting one in 3,500 newborn baby boys worldwide, this fatal disease is caused by a mutation in the gene that codes for the...

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Dodging Another Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Finally Meets Its Match The headlining Ebola crisis of last summer devastated West Africa, marking the largest outbreak since the discovery of the disease in 1976. The glaring lack of a treatment or vaccine caused the virus to quickly spread within Guinea,...

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New Hope For Basal Cell Carcinoma

The Science Behind The Latest FDA Approval Strong Phase II data launched Novartis’ (Basel, Switzerland) Odomzo to an accelerated FDA approval for basal cell carcinoma last week. The company skipped Phase III testing for the skin cancer drug because 58% of patient's...

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Potential Of PCSK9 Inhibitors

$23 Billion Blockbuster? The PCSK9 inhibitor buzz keeps rolling, especially since sitting before the FDA Advisory Committee earlier this month.  Amgen's (Thousand Oaks, CA) Repatha and Sanofi's (Paris, France) Praluent are a new class of cholesterol lowing drug...

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NASH: A Health Crisis In The Making

The Race Against Nash A silent epidemic creeping upon the Western world pushed the headline grabbing acquisition of a Phase 1 non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) drug last week. Boehringer Ingelheim (Ingelheim, Germany) acquired Pharmaxis (Sydney, Autralia) due to...

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Curing Hepatitis C

The biotech industry gets its fair share of criticism. Take for example HBO's John Oliver shining his light on biopharma last week and proclaiming drug companies are like high school boyfriends: more interested in getting into patients' bodies than actually being...

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