1) Industry officials talk drug costs, disclosure at Mass. biotech caucus – State House News, 10/1/2015
Biotechnology experts on Thursday agreed that high cost of developing medications must be addressed, but said legislation to require disclosure of development costs is not the solution.
2) FierceBiotech’s 2015 Fierce 15 – FierceBiotech, 9/30/2015
Whatever lies ahead for biotech in 2016, we can now look back on a 3-year-long stretch of good times for the industry. Venture groups have used the wave of biotech IPO exits and M&A deals to go back and raise more money from institutional investors. And as billions of dollars in fresh capital has converged with brilliant new scientific thinking, the result is a whole new wave of standout innovators as represented here by the Fierce 15.
3) FDA Approves Bristol-Myers’s Yervoy, Opdivo for Treatment of Melanoma – WSJ, 10/1/2015
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first therapy combining two cutting-edge cancer drugs that unleash the body’s immune system against tumors—a combination that will cost more than $250,000 per patient for the first full year, according to its manufacturer.
4) Cambridge drug firm Infinity earns $130 million milestone from AbbVie – BBJ, 9/30/2015
Infinity Pharmaceuticals announced today that the company has enrolled the 120th, and final, patient into a mid-stage study involving patients with a form of blood cancer, resulting in a payout that doubles its cash on hand.
5) Third Rock launches cancer-fighting startup – Boston Globe, 10/1/2015
Third Rock Ventures, a prominent Boston life sciences investor, has launched a cancer-fighting startup with funding from two other investors.
What if you could pick out early warning signs of heart conditions out of somebody’s Fitbit data?
It turns out that you can.
This technology was developed by Mike Klein, a neuroscience Ph.D out of McGill University, as part of the Insight Health Data Science Fellowship. Insight offers a Fellowship three times a year where academics learn the applied data science skills they need to work in industry. Klein had already used machine learning in his research — it comes in handy when interpreting fMRI data — but at Insight he picked up industry standard tools and data science workflow to work with messy dataset. As a long-time wearable user, Klein was fascinated by the Health eHeart study where over 30,000 participants have contributed their Fitbit step data and clinical information (anonymized) to help study heart disease. After many hours of wrangling and feature engineering, Mike was able to predict early warning signs of heart conditions based on walking patterns extracted from Fitbit records.
“I was excited to be able to leverage my existing knowledge of machine learning techniques to attack a problem in a new domain area with very different sorts of data. Both the industry focused tools and the pace (a sprint!) were very different at Insight and, in the process, I learned a great deal about working with sparse/unbalanced datasets. – Mike Klein
Klein wasn’t the only one in his cohort to come up with a data-driven solution. Greg Koytiger, former postdoc in systems biology at Harvard Medical School, was interested in precision medicine on cancer therapeutics. “The motivation is to save time and cost on finding the right patients for the right treatment”, Koytiger said. He built a series of models trained with gene expression profiles of human cancer cell lines to predict the link between genome-wide expression and drug sensitivity. By applying his models to breast cancer patients treated with Docetaxel, Koytiger showed that the model correctly identified 91% responders and 85% non-responders.
Predicting drug response will help oncologists identify the right drug for their patients and for pharmaceutical companies design targeted proof of concept trials for experimental therapeutics. Using sparse linear models allowed me to understand the genes responsible for drug resistance and sensitivity thereby shedding light on potentially interesting new biology. ” – Greg Koytiger (recently signed an offer with Immuneering after completing the Health Data Science program).
Boston Clinical Trials is an independent, multi specialty, women-owned and operated clinical research center located in Boston.
We conduct clinical studies in the areas of Dermatology, Gastroenterology, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, Sexual Dysfunction, Urology, and Medical Devices. We provide the highest standard of clinical research to our sponsors, a safe and rewarding experience to our participants, and professional growth opportunities to our employees and affiliates. Website
Definiens is the pioneering provider of Tissue Phenomics® solutions for biomarker and companion diagnostics development and commercialization. Definiens’ technology empowers smarter tissue-based diagnostics by leveraging quantitative tissue readouts and other big data sources. By enabling the development of powerful and precise assays for patient stratification and clinical trial enrollment, Definiens aims to dramatically improve patient outcomes. Definiens’ Tissue Phenomics approach was awarded the 2013 Frost and Sullivan Company of the Year Award for Global Tissue Diagnostics and Pathology Imaging. Website
1) AstraZeneca taps crowd sourcing to find cancer drug cocktails – Reuters, 9/22/2015
Drugmaker AstraZeneca is harnessing the wisdom of crowds to help mix tomorrow’s cancer drug cocktails. The company said on Tuesday its decision to release preclinical data from more than 50 of its medicines was unprecedented in scale and would help accelerate the hunt for synergistic tumor-fighting drug combinations.
2) How this Cambridge biotech is changing the drug development game – Reuters, 9/22/2015
What SAGE Therapeutics knows is that its intravenous drug has performed well in several clinical trials for epilepsy, showing progress in calming down brain activity.
3) Deciphera raises $75 million for cancer drug trials – Boston Globe, 9/21/2015
A Waltham drug company developing cancer treatments has raised $75 million from investors. Deciphera Pharmaceuticals said Monday it had raised the money to advance two of its drugs through clinical proof-of-concept testing and advance two other drugs in its pipeline toward commercialization. The company said its drug pipeline is built around “kinase inhibitors” that block cancer cells’ signaling mechanisms and makes it harder for them to mutate to resist treatment.
4) Pfizer to develop cancer drug partnered with Cambridge biotech Bind – BBJ, 9/24/2015
Bind Therapeutics says its Pfizer plans to move ahead with one of two partnered cancer drugs using the Cambridge biotech’s nanomedicine approach to more accurately target tumors.
5) Funding plan targets drug development for rare diseases – Boston Globe, 9/24/2015
Three years ago, MIT finance professor Andrew Lo proposed rallying private investors to raise an eye-popping $30 billion to develop cancer drugs.
BioPharm America 2015 drew more than 850 life sciences professionals from 524 companies and 27 countries around the world and saw 2,274 one-to-one partnering meetings. MassBio, in partnership with EBD Group, the leading partnering firm for the life sciences industry, hosted BioPharm America September 15-17 at the Boston Marriott Copley Place.
“The impressive showing of life sciences executives from around the world is indicative of how vital Massachusetts is to the industry,” said Robert K. Coughlin, President & CEO of MassBio. “The partnering meetings are a valuable opportunity to foster collaborations that will deliver cures for patients.”
The conference kicked off with an Opening Plenary entitled “Giving up the corporate jet and going back to the trenches: Insights from biotech disrupters” featuring four former pharma executives who are now running small biotech companies.
The seasoned panelists shared the triumphs and tribulations of moving from a large pharma to a small biotech but overwhelmingly said the risk is worth the reward. Jeremy Levin, former Teva Pharmaceuticals CEO and current Chairman & CEO of Ovid Therapeutics, highlighted the incredible impact of meeting with patients “eyeball to eyeball” and getting the opportunity to truly know your employees. His fellow panelists agreed and addressed the importance of cultivating an invigorating culture that motivates employees to perform at the highest level.
Tuesday afternoon began with an Executive Discussion, “Rare Diseases: The new norm?” Panelists focused on the potential for disruptive innovation within industry and academia partnerships, the FDA, and incorporating patients in the design of clinical trials. IIan Ganot, founder and CEO of Solid Biosciences and the father of a child with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, stressed the importance of listening to the patient. “Patients really know the disease. We like to think we know, but they really know. If you can find a way to work with patients, it’s a great formula to be successful,” he said.
New this year was the Biotech Startup Day sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Innovation. After a series of panel discussions on funding opportunities and strategy, 20+ budding entrepreneurs had four minutes each to pitch their companies to a panel of experts and compete for a prize. Proteorex Therapeutics Inc. came out on top for their innovative technology and services to support drug discovery. Founder & CEO Aman Iqbal and his team won the use of a bench at one of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS managed locations for three months and six months of mentorship from a Johnson & Johnson Innovation team member.
Other panels throughout the conference covered hot topics such as regenerative medicine, externalizing R&D, biomarkers, precision medicine, digital health, and big data. BioPharm America will return to Boston in the fall of 2016.