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CAR-T illustration (Shutterstock)

Penn re­searchers find a way through the labyrinth keep­ing CAR-T from sol­id tu­mors

Blood vessels are supposed to act like trees, pumping in oxygen tissues need to grow and immune cells required to clear out pathogens. But in tumors, the forest can go a bit haywire. Vessels grow prodigiously and bulge and twist at abrupt points, making it difficult to even tell what’s a vein and what’s an artery. It starts to look less like a forest and more like a gnarled root floor. “A disorganized labyrinth,” one oncologist has called it.

Park­er In­sti­tute sum­moned the neoanti­gen pi­o­neers to com­pare their pre­dic­tion al­go­rithms. And they have some sug­ges­tions for the field

What makes a good neoantigen?

For all the promises of the bold new approach to cancer vaccines and therapies — zeroing in on specific mutated antigens expressed only by tumors — companies and academics have little way of knowing how good they are at predicting which neoantigens represent the best targets. There’s no standard or baseline for players to stack themselves against rivals in the nascent field, and by the time they find out, it could be too late.

Thomas Perlmann (far right), Secretary of the Nobel Assembly, announces the 2020 Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine to (left on screen) Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton, center, and Charles Rice (Claudio Bresciani/TT via AP Images)

Three sci­en­tists win No­bel Prize in Med­i­cine for work in dis­cov­er­ing he­pati­tis C virus

Monday marks the start of Nobel Prize week, and the Swedish committee kicked things off by handing out the first award to three virologists.

Harvey Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles Rice have jointly won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on the discovery of the hepatitis C virus. Their research provided the foundation for testing and antivirals that can help those infected receive treatment, as well as a potential vaccine for the liver disease.

Gene Wang, Immetas co-founder and CEO (file photo)

Im­metas Ther­a­peu­tics nabs $11M Se­ries A to nar­row their bis­pe­cif­ic work tar­get­ing in­flam­ma­tion in age-re­lat­ed dis­eases

How does a biotech celebrate its two-year anniversary? For Immetas Therapeutics, it’s with an $11 million Series A round and a game plan to fight age-related disease.

Co-founders Gene Wang and David Sinclair came together years ago around the idea that inflammation is the ultimate process driving age-related illnesses, including cancer. The duo launched Immetas in 2018 and packed the staff with industry experts. Wang, who says he’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit, has held lead roles at Novartis, GSK, Bristol Myers Squibb and Merck. He’s worked on blockbuster drugs like Humira, Gardasil, Varubi and Zolinza. And now, he’s channeling that spirit as CEO.

Scripps reach­es $10M set­tle­ment with gov­ern­ment over al­le­ga­tions NIH grants weren't prop­er­ly ac­count­ed for

Scripps Research Institute has settled a case with the Justice Department alleging claims of misappropriated funds, the US attorney for the district of Maryland announced late last week.

Prosecutors said the institute improperly used NIH-funded research grants for non-grant related activities, including working on new grant applications, teaching activities and other administrative tasks. As part of the settlement, Scripps has agreed to pay $10 million.

An old Ver­tex drug gets new life as an Alzheimer's treat­ment, but hu­man stud­ies still far off

If you give a mouse a targeted enzyme inhibitor, will its cognitive decline slow down?

That’s what researchers from McGill University and the Lady Davis Institute in Montreal are asking, and the answer could be yes. Led by Andréa LeBlanc, the team demonstrated a link between an old Vertex drug, VX-765, and delayed cognitive impairment prior to the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms and aging in mice. The results of the study were published in a paper in Nature Communications early Friday morning.

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Re­searchers at City of Hope com­bine on­colyt­ic virus with a CAR-T to erad­i­cate sol­id tu­mors in mice

A new combination of existing cancer treatments is showing early signs of potentially cracking open a new approach to treating solid tumors.

In preclinical research published by City of Hope, a California-based non-profit, scientists effectively blended CAR-T therapy with an oncolytic virus to eradicate solid tumors in mice. The virus is genetically engineered to enter the tumors and force them to express the CD19 protein, allowing the CAR-T cells to attack.

Paula Cannon (Credit: Richard Carrasco)

Re­searchers teamed up to de­vel­op a 'three in one' HIV treat­ment — and the NIH is throw­ing in $14.6M

The NIH is pitching $14.6 million into a “three for one” HIV research program led by USC and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center that aims to strike the need for daily medication — or even achieve a “home run” cure.

The five-year grant will back preclinical studies that combine gene editing with technology to improve bone marrow transplants. The potential therapy would engineer a patient’s own stem cells to fight HIV, and stimulate them to produce new immune cells once reintroduced to the patient.

Ron Evans (Salk Institute)

Ron Evans steals a trick from I/O, and points the way to a trans­for­ma­tion­al di­a­betes ther­a­py

Salk Institute scientist and serial biotech entrepreneur Ron Evans showed new mouse work yesterday that could point to a long-sought holy grail for diabetes treatment.

The study, published in Nature, involved a new approach for islet cell transplant, a diabetes therapy where dysfunctional insulin-producing cells on the pancreas are replaced with functional ones. The treatment has been around for a while and new ones are in development, but they’ve been hampered by the fact that patients will reject the cells unless they go on immuno-suppressive drugs.

Take­da maps out a dis­cov­ery al­liance aimed at break­ing through the safe­ty and ef­fi­ca­cy bound­aries that lim­it the first-gen gene ther­a­pies

MIT headliner Harvey Lodish and Jiahai Shi in Hong Kong leant some of their work in red blood cells to help found Rubius, a Flagship startup that has been disappointing investors with its inability to stay on track with the clinical work.

But Lodish and Shi also backed another, lesser-known startup — Carmine Therapeutics — that has now inked its first Big Pharma partnership. And this one is hoping to make it big in one of the hottest fields in drug R&D: gene therapy.

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