About the re­designed End­points News

We’ve up­grad­ed the End­points web ex­pe­ri­ence for the first time since our launch three years ago. It was built from scratch in­ter­nal­ly with the read­er in mind to be a clean­er and more use­able plat­form. We have some spe­cif­ic goals in mind for the de­sign, which I’ll de­scribe be­low. And for those in­ter­est­ed, I’d like to go in­to some depth be­hind the over­all process and back­end be­hind End­points News.

But first, a word of thanks to the CRO Bio­rasi for their ex­clu­sive spon­sor­ship of the re­design. End­points’ chief rev­enue of­fi­cer Mike Peck and I met the team a year ago at a con­fer­ence, where we talked about clin­i­cal out­sourc­ing and its place in drug de­vel­op­ment. Soon, we de­vel­oped a brand cam­paign tied to the End­points brand re­fresh, and over the next two weeks you’ll see the re­sults of that across the site.

I set out three ma­jor goals for the re­design. They were:

  • In­crease the con­ver­sion rate of web vis­i­tors in­to ba­sic sub­scribers
  • In­crease the av­er­age num­ber of sto­ries read per vis­it
  • 2x im­prove­ment on the de­sign, fit, and fin­ish

The first two can be ob­jec­tive­ly mea­sured. And in the 48 hours since we soft launched the site, we’ve al­ready seen im­prove­ments. Im­prov­ing the rate at which new web vis­i­tors will­ing­ly and vol­un­tar­i­ly sub­scribe to get the ba­sic End­points email prod­uct is pure or­gan­ic growth and re­mains our #1 mar­ket­ing KPI. We crossed 50,000 re­cent­ly. Three years ago, John Car­roll and I kicked things off with around 1,000 per­son­al con­tacts who were our Day One sub­scribers. And in­creas­ing the av­er­age num­ber of sto­ries read per vis­it is a crit­i­cal mea­sure of the dis­cov­er­abil­i­ty of our news con­tent. We were av­er­ag­ing around 1.2 sto­ries per vis­i­tor. We ex­pect to triple that num­ber with this new de­sign.

The last goal — a 2x im­prove­ment in the de­sign — is a sub­jec­tive one. And to do it jus­tice re­quires a look that reach­es back to well be­fore the ori­gins of End­points News. I’ll do that be­low for the read­ers who are in­ter­est­ed.

For the rest, just know the de­sign was cre­at­ed with you, the read­er, in mind. End­points’ tech/de­sign team is deeply com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing the use­abil­i­ty of the web­site. And that goes dou­ble for our pre­mi­um sub­scribers (check out the new read­er pro­file fea­ture for a glimpse).

If you de­pend on End­points, but haven’t up­grad­ed to a pre­mi­um sub­scrip­tion — now is the time. Our En­ter­prise plan of­fer is a trans­par­ent, un­lim­it­ed seat-li­cense for com­pa­nies for a flat $1,000/year re­gard­less of head­count. And the In­sid­er plan is $200/year for in­di­vid­u­als. You can see all the ben­e­fits here.

Once again, thanks to Bio­rasi for their ex­clu­sive spon­sor­ship of End­points News dur­ing the #BIO2019 con­ven­tion. You’ll see their brand place­ments across the new plat­forms for the next two weeks, with a we­bi­nar launch­ing lat­er in the year. I en­cour­age you to check out their new web­site as well.

We hope you en­joy the new End­points ex­pe­ri­ence.


About the process and de­sign

John Car­roll de­scribed the ear­li­est days of End­points News re­cent­ly. It was a ful­ly boot­strapped ven­ture with four vir­tu­al em­ploy­ees.

Ty­pog­ra­phy com­par­i­son. Top: old ver­sion (Eq­ui­ty) / Bot­tom: new (Ivar Text)

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

Long­time read­ers know that John and I were at a pre­vi­ous com­pa­ny. And when we found­ed End­points, we knew it was go­ing to be a ful­ly boot­strapped ven­ture. We had a well-known ed­i­tor. And with tools like Word­Press, start­ing a me­dia com­pa­ny to­day is so easy, any­one can do it.

But there was no bud­get for a de­sign­er. So the task fell be­tween our CTO Ig­or Yavych and my­self. Frankly, we’re no de­sign­ers.

Com­par­i­son of the old End­ponts News home­page with the June 2019 up­grade

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

Last year, thanks to the suc­cess of our paid sub­scrip­tion cam­paigns, we were able to start build­ing out our team. We brought on board Valentin Manov as our cre­ative di­rec­tor, and the new fit and fin­ish you see to­day are his con­tri­bu­tions.

It was vi­tal­ly im­por­tant to me that once we had a de­sign bud­get, we would make “good de­sign” an in­ter­nal ca­pa­bil­i­ty — not some­thing we’d out­source. When de­sign­ers have ac­cess to the on­line news­room, they get to see what’s im­por­tant to ed­i­tors and that in turn shapes their read­er-fac­ing work. We did not want to go to an out­side agency and ask for pitch­es on what they thought our news ex­pe­ri­ence ought to be.

Back in March, I flew to Sofia, Bul­gar­ia to meet up with Valentin and Ig­or and fi­nal­ize the ba­sic out­lines of the de­sign you see to­day. We named this re­lease “Rakia,” which is the most pop­u­lar brandy in the Balka­ns.

We’re ea­ger to know what you think about the de­sign.

PS: In or­der to em­brace the newest tech­nolo­gies that are com­ing, we had to end sup­port of some very old web browsers. Old­er ver­sions of In­ter­net Ex­plor­er are no longer sup­port­ed: If you’re on a PC, Mi­crosoft’s Edge brows­er is ex­cel­lent. Ig­or rec­om­mends the Opera Brows­er. My rec­om­men­da­tion? The lat­est ver­sion of Chrome will al­ways do.

Mer­ck is tak­ing the ax to its US op­er­a­tions, cut­ting 500 jobs in its lat­est re­or­ga­ni­za­tion

Merck is cutting 500 jobs in its US sales and headquarters commercial teams in its latest effort to find new ways to streamline the operation.

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Alice Shaw, Lung Cancer Foundation of America

Top ALK ex­pert and can­cer drug re­searcher Al­ice Shaw bids adieu to acad­e­mia, hel­lo to No­var­tis

Jay Bradner has recruited a marquee oncology drug researcher into the ranks of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Alice Shaw is jumping from prestigious posts intertwined through Mass General, Harvard and Dana-Farber to take the lead of NIBR’s translational clinical oncology group.

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Mi­rati preps its first look at their KRAS G12C con­tender, and they have to clear a high bar for suc­cess

If you’re a big KRAS G12C fan, mark your calendars for October 28 at 4:20 pm EDT.

That’s when Mirati $MRTX will unveil its first peek at the early clinical data available on MRTX849 in presentations at the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Boston.

Mirati has been experiencing the full effect of a rival’s initial success at targeting the G12C pocket found on KRAS, offering the biotech some support on the concept they’re after — and biotech fans a race to the top. Amgen made a big splash with its first positive snapshot on lung cancer, but deflated sky-high expectations as it proved harder to find similar benefits in other types of cancers.

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The FDA will hus­tle up an ex­pe­dit­ed re­view for As­traZeneca’s next shot at a block­buster can­cer drug fran­chise

AstraZeneca paid a hefty price to partner with Daiichi Sankyo on their experimental antibody drug conjugate for HER2 positive breast cancer. And they’ve been rewarded with a fast ride through the FDA, with a straight shot at creating another blockbuster oncology franchise.

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Sean Parker, AP

Sean Park­er helps cre­ate a CRISPRed cell ther­a­py 2.0 play — and he’s got a high-pro­file set of lead­ers on the team

You can rack up one more high-profile debut effort in the wave of activity forming around cell therapy 2.0. It’s another appealing Bay Area group that’s attracted some of the top hands in the business to a multi-year effort to create a breakthrough. And they have $85 million in hand to make that first big step to the clinic.

Today it’s Ken Drazan and the team at South San Francisco-based ArsenalBio that are coming from behind the curtain for a public bow, backed by billionaire Sean Parker and a collection of investors that includes Beth Seidenberg’s new venture investment operation based in LA.
Drazan — a J&J Innovation vet with a long record of entrepreneurial endeavors — exited the stage in 2018 when his last mission ended as he stepped aside as president of Grail. It wasn’t long, though, before he was helping out with a business plan for ArsenalBio that revolved around the work of a large group of interconnected scientists supported by the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunology.

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Med­ical an­i­ma­tion: Mak­ing it eas­i­er for the site and the pa­tient to un­der­stand

Medical animation has in recent years become an increasingly important tool for conveying niche information to a varied audience, particularly to those audiences without expertise in the specialist area. Science programmes today, for example, have moved from the piece-to-camera of the university professor explaining how a complex disease mechanism works, to actually showing the viewer first-hand what it might look like to shrink ourselves down to the size of an ant’s foot, and travel inside the human body to witness these processes in action. Effectively communicating a complex disease pathophysiology, or the novel mechanism of action of a new drug, can be complex. This is especially difficult when the audience domain knowledge is limited or non-existent. Medical animation can help with this communication challenge in several ways.
Improved accessibility to visualisation
Visualisation is a core component of our ability to understand a concept. Ask 10 people to visualise an apple, and each will come up with a slightly different image, some apples smaller than others, some more round, some with bites taken. Acceptable, you say, we can move on to the next part of the story. Now ask 10 people to visualise how HIV’s capsid protein gets arranged into the hexamers and pentamers that form the viral capsid that holds HIV’s genetic material. This request may pose a challenge even to someone with some virology knowledge, and it is that inability to effectively visualise what is going on that holds us back from fully understanding the rest of the story. So how does medical animation help us to overcome this visualisation challenge?

Hal Barron, GSK's president of R&D and CSO, speaks to Endpoints News founder and editor John Carroll in London at Endpoints' #UKBIO19 summit on October 8, 2019

[Video] Cel­e­brat­ing tri­al fail­ures, chang­ing the cul­ture and al­ly­ing with Cal­i­for­nia dream­ers: R&D chief Hal Bar­ron talks about a new era at GSK

Last week I had a chance to sit down with Hal Barron at Endpoints’ #UKBIO19 summit to discuss his views on R&D at GSK, a topic that has been central to his life since he took the top research post close to 2 years ago. During the conversation, Barron talked about changing the culture at GSK, a move that involves several new approaches — one of which involves celebrating their setbacks as they shift resources to the most promising programs in the pipeline. Barron also discussed his new alliances in the Bay Area — including his collaboration pact with Lyell, which we covered here — frankly assesses the pluses and minuses of the UK drug development scene, and talks about his plans for making GSK a much more effective drug developer.

This is one discussion you won’t want to miss. Insider and Enterprise subscribers can log-in to watch the video.

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Flu Virus (Source: CDC)

FDA ex­pands Xofluza ap­proval as Roche strug­gles to catch loom­ing flu mar­ket

As a potentially powerful flu season looms, so does a big test for Roche and its new flu drug, Xofluza. The Swiss giant just got a small boost in advance of that test as the FDA expanded Xofluza’s indication to include patients at high risk of developing flu-related complications.

Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil) was approved last October in the US, the first landmark flu drug approval in 20 years and a much-needed green light for a company that had watched its leading flu drug Tamiflu get eaten alive by generics. Like its predecessor, the pill offered a reduction in flu symptoms but not a cure.

EMA backs sev­en ther­a­pies, in­clud­ing Mer­ck­'s Ebo­la vac­cine

The first-ever Ebola vaccine is on the precipice of approval after the European Medicine’s Agency (EMA) backed the Merck product in this week’s roster of recommendations.

The drugmaker $MRK began developing the vaccine, christened Ervebo, during the West African outbreak that occurred between 2014 and 2016, killing more than 11,000.

The current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has shown case fatality rates of approximately 67%, the agency estimated. Earlier this year, the WHO declared the outbreak — which so far has infected more than 3,000 people — a public health emergency of international concern.