The virologist who founded our firm closed our office ahead of the curve.
We packed up our laptops and notebooks. The pessimistic among us, sensing this would not be a short hiatus, took their plants. By a window overlooking Boston, my orchid withers.
Yet for a craft so linked to biology (molecules, organs, human life) our work is remarkably distant from the physical world. We are not battlefield heroes like nurses, physicians or grocery clerks. Aside for a colleague who moonlights as an ER doc, we assume no physical risk. …
Do you have a compelling new project? Email me.
After closing up Nivien last fall, I returned to Harvard for my final semester. I took a neuro seminar, electromagnetism, drug liability litigation at Harvard Law, and a killer course in computational bio, graduating with a B.A. in Molecular & Cellular Biology.
The day after my last exam, I flew to Sydney to start a 6-month trip around the world. Along the way, I learned about and wrote essays on cybersecurity in biotech, drug pricing and rebates, delivering gene therapy, a novel cancer target, the path to power in pharma, and a guide on how to learn biotech. …
I was on an island in Vietnam when I got the alert from the CEO of Charles River Labs, the world’s top R&D contractor: “highly sophisticated and well-resourced intruders” had stolen data from 1% of its clients — including my biotech startup, Nivien Therapeutics.
Charles River is a natural target: it handles data from startups like Nivien to giants like Pfizer, which enlist contractors for specialized expertise, capital-intensive infrastructure and experiments that exceed in-house bandwidth.
We worked with several contractors at Nivien: on animal studies, chemical screens, assay development and optimization of our therapeutic candidates. …
Unlike common cancers of older age — liver, pancreatic, lung — blood cancers can get you early.
Fatigue, weakness, swollen nodes—by the time you notice, it’s often too late.
ROR1 is a promising new therapeutic target: a protein abundant on the surface of cancer cells but rare on healthy cells. A wave of experimental drugs exploit this difference to kill cancer without harming normal tissue.
Scientists at several startups and research institutes are pursuing four key strategies to bring ROR1-targeted therapies to patients. …
When Pete Buttigieg became Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Newsweek had just featured his home as one of “America’s Top 10 Dying Cities.” South Bend embodied the same economic trends that went on to spawn Trump: rising unemployment, decaying social bonds, and anti-globalism.
Pete started by repairing roads and pledging to redevelop 1,000 vacant homes in 1,000 days. His team finished two months early. He lifted the minimum wage, recruited companies to open new offices, and invested in a major downtown revitalization while weathering multiple climate catastrophes.
Gene therapy is a powerful tool to treat diseases from cancer to deafness, but it requires safe and effective delivery to the correct cells in the body. This post is about the unique genesis of Anc80, a new viral delivery system.
Gene therapy has two parts: 1) the genetic package, to fix a disease-causing error, and 2) the delivery system, to deliver the fix to its intended location.
Existing delivery systems cannot reach all cells, limiting gene therapy’s utility.
Anc80 has proven 1000X more effective in targeting difficult-to-reach cells in mice and the first human trials start this year. …
Update: The Trump Administration withdrew this HHS proposal on July 10th, 2019.
People are paying more for drugs, even as inflation and production costs fall. However, many politically-popular tactics to lower prices could hit R&D budgets — the lifeblood of new medicines.
In a proposal to lower prices out tonight, the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) instead goes after “significant distortions in the drug distribution chain” that increase out-of-pocket costs.
The HHS solution: kill the sketchy rebates drug companies pay to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) for higher placement on formularies.
Already confused? That’s what PBMs want. …
This is a roundup of top resources in biotech, pharma and healthcare.
My list excludes many great ways to learn about biotech: conferences, scientific degrees (and textbooks), talking with people (from professors to executives), or actually working in the space.
However, it’s the most detailed and now most widely-read set of materials you can access at any time, from anywhere in the world, mostly for free.
If I’ve missed a good source or you’d like to connect, feel free to email me.
When politics, climate change or international conflicts have me down, I turn to biotech instead. There’s always a new scientific discovery, a new drug for a rare disease, a new medical device for a common ailment.
Here are ten real biomedical wins from 2018 (with a contentious #10):
Skip to the end for key highlights and analysis.
Biopharma leaders allocate billions in R&D funding. They decide which diseases will be studied, treated, and one day cured — and which will not.
They control drug prices, and therefore access to treatments for everything from cancer to diabetes. And they earn among the highest salaries of all executives, yet often go unnoticed compared to leaders in tech or finance.
Over the course of a life everyone uses biopharma products, but there are no good summaries of the CEOs at each of the top 50 biopharma companies.
What path did each CEO follow — or blaze — to reach such a vital role in the discovery, development and distribution of life-saving technologies? …