R&D,Bioprocess,Clinical Development,Weekly Roundups

Weekly News Round-up – 21/2/20

10 months ago By Josh Neil
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Fascinating news this week as scientists at MIT found the first strong antibiotics devised entirely by machine learning algorithm. The resulting medicines have so far proven highly effective against ‘critical’ pathogens. The scientists are now intending to search for more selective drugs that target nothing but the infection. In other news, investor Warren Buffett has defied the market to invest in Biogen’s latest Alzheimer’s trials, and Novartis’ Beovu has been approved in the EU, mounting more pressure on Bayer’s competitor drug Eylea.

FIRST ANTIBIOTIC DISCOVERED SOLELY WITH MACHINE LEARNING – Scientists at MIT have used machine learning algorithms to create an antibiotic capable of killing some of the most dangerous drug-resistant bacteria in the world. This includes two of the three high-priority pathogens listed by the WHO as ‘critical’ targets of new drugs. The algorithm was fed with the atomic and molecular features of around 2,500 drugs and natural compounds. The algorithm then observed how well they blocked the growth of E coli. After it had learnt the features of a good antibiotic, the algorithm looked at 6,000 compounds being researched. It only took a few hours to find options. 

BUFFETT INVESTS IN BIOGEN ADUCANUMAB GAMBLE – High-profile investor Warren Buffett has surprised the market by revealing a $192 million stake in Biogen recently. The company is currently attempting to bring back two failed trials of aducanumab, its Alzheimer’s drug. Biogen is now preparing for an fDA review, even though trial data in 2019 did not support approval. Given that no new Alzheimer’s drug has been approved since 2003, a new approval could mean billions for the company – and investors. 

EU APPROVES NOVARTIS’ BEOVU AS PRESSURE ON BAYER MOUNTS – Novartis’ Beovu, a follow-up to the company’s VEGF inhibitor Lucentis that deals with neovascular age-related macular degeneration, has been approved by the European Commission. Beovu requires less frequent dosing for patients than its rival, Beyer and Regeneron’s Eylea. The drug was launched in the U.S. at the same cost per dose as Eylea, meaning savings for patients dealing with ‘wet’ AMD. According to Novartis, Beovu also outperformed Eylea in resolution of retinal fluid, a vital marker of disease activity. 

In other news: 

R&D
Sanofi Pasteur partners with U.S. government on COVID-19 vaccine

Clinical Trials
FDA grants two fast-track reviews to ALX Oncology’s cancer drug ALX148

Manufacturing
Biopharma technology innovation centre opens in Ireland, led by NIBRT

That’s all for now. See you next week!

Joshua Neil, Editor
Proventa International

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