Discovery channel feed

Minkyung Baek (University of Washington)

'They have shown that this is not some im­pos­si­ble thing': Aca­d­e­m­ic lab copies Google’s big bi­o­log­i­cal break­through

When Demis Hassabis, CEO of Google’s AI outfit DeepMind, announced last year that they had cracked one of the toughest puzzles in biology — successfully predicting a protein’s shape from its amino acid sequence — Minkyung Baek watched with a curious mixture of dread and excitement.

“It felt like I just lost my job,” said Baek, a postdoc at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design.

Elizabeth Parrish (Matthias Arnold/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Con­tro­ver­sial an­ti-ag­ing sci­en­tist — backed by Har­vard's George Church — makes a fresh round of claims on life ex­ten­sion in new mouse study

Just weeks ago controversial anti-aging researcher Elizabeth Parrish attracted considerable attention for a tiny human gene therapy study she claimed was underway in Mexico, testing a new approach to age-related dementia. Now the biotech exec is back in the spotlight, with celebrated Harvard scientific advisor George Church by her side, posting a mouse study that stakes a claim to a remarkable extension of animals’ life spans using an “intranasal and injectable” gene therapy.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 117,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

David Liu, Broad Institute

Re­ly­ing on an ul­tra-rare vari­ant, David Liu un­veils a new ap­proach to edit­ing sick­le cell

There are now at least five different approaches to curing sickle cell in or nearing human testing from at least eight different companies or academic centers. But researchers have not stopped looking for improvements.

David Liu, the co-inventor of base editing and co-founder of Beam Therapeutics, unveiled in Nature Tuesday a new approach for using gene editing to turn patients’ sickling hemoglobin into a healthy form of the protein. If it plays out in humans, experts say, the strategy could offer a more direct and potentially safer way of treating the debilitating genetic disease.

Daphne Zohar, PureTech CEO

PureTech turns 200-year-old dis­cov­ery in­to a new ap­proach to Alzheimer's, while cling­ing to con­tro­ver­sial amy­loid hy­poth­e­sis

Before MRIs or CT scans, 18th-century anatomist Paolo Mascagni injected his cadavers with mercury. Ever mobile, the mercury coursed through their veins like blood, illuminating the body’s rivers and canals in a silvery contrast that Mascagni could trace upon dissection.

In ornate, da Vinci-esque diagrams, Mascagni sketched the bulk of the body’s lymphatic system: The complex drainage networks that assure immune cells flow to the right place and fluid never builds up in any one spot.  That included detailed drawings of the lymphatic system in the brain — whose existence scientists promptly forgot for the next 200 years.

Sanofi teams with vir­tu­al re­al­i­ty biotech on oral Dupix­ent suc­ces­sor

Sanofi’s latest bet on a potential Dupixent sequel is a preclinical pill developed by a British small-cap that specializes in virtual reality chemistry.

The French pharma rolled the dice Monday on an up to $500 million deal with C4X Discovery. The milestone-heavy, $8 million upfront agreement will license to Sanofi a small molecule the discovery biotech developed to block the cytokine IL-17 — a potential oral treatment for psoriasis and other inflammatory conditions.

Niall Martin, Artios CEO

No­var­tis taps DNA dam­age spe­cial­ist Ar­tios in $1.3B dis­cov­ery deal to com­ple­ment grow­ing ra­di­oli­gand port­fo­lio

With a big Phase III win for its lead radioligand for cancer last month, Novartis is looking to quickly ramp up its pipeline for those therapies in a bid at a new class of drugs. But the Swiss drugmaker is hedging its bets that its radioligands are good enough for most cancers, and now it’s inked a discovery pact for complementary drugs that could weaken tumors even more.

Novartis will pay $20 million upfront and up to $1.3 billion in biobucks for up to three DNA repair-targeted molecules from UK-based Artios meant to “enhance” its growing pipeline of radioligand oncology drugs, the partners said Wednesday.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 117,800+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Stuart Lipton, via Scripps Research

Stu­art Lip­ton of­fers a new pos­si­ble rea­son why all the Alzheimer's drugs have failed

There are a few commonly trotted out reasons for why virtually every Alzheimer’s drug of the last two decades has failed: Maybe the trials didn’t start early enough in the course of disease, or maybe they didn’t go after the right group of patients?

As companies have started earlier and on more select groups of patients, another conclusion has grown increasingly popular: Maybe they’ve all gone after the wrong target. Maybe clearing the misfolded plaques that buildup in patients’ brains, as these therapies have, just wipes away one symptom of the disease but not the root cause.

David Liu (Casey Atkins Photography courtesy Broad Institute)

In­tel­lia an­nounced a new tool for gene edit­ing. Aca­d­e­mics said they rewrote his­to­ry

David Liu, the Harvard biochemist, was sitting in a meeting last week when his phone started buzzing repeatedly.

Unbeknownst to him, minutes prior the CRISPR company Intellia had finished unveiling their approach to base editing at a Cold Spring Harbor Lab conference. First pioneered by Liu and his lab in 2016, the method allows you to change individual DNA bases without breaking the double helix, an advance that could prove critical for treating a long list of cancers and genetic diseases.

Wild Biotech co-founder Neta Raab

Two Church lab vets, a se­cre­tive in­sti­tute and an Is­raeli bil­lion­aire hunt for drugs in the guts of wild an­i­mals

Over the last four years, Neta Raab and Ido Bachelet have received hundreds of padded cardboard boxes containing frozen poop from wild animals on five different continents.

The packages came regularly to their lab outside Tel Aviv, sent from a squad of zoologists and specialized Israeli army veterans who tracked enough animals to fill a Rudyard Kipling novel, rushing to collect vulture and rhino and frog samples within an hour of extrusion. Raab and Bachelet carefully opened the boxes, removing the samples from plastic-wrapped tubes and then using specialized magnetic beads to fish out the bacterial DNA inside for sequencing.

Neil King (University of Washington)

Is a 'su­per-sea­son­al' flu vac­cine on the hori­zon? The NIH and UW are tak­ing a shot in­to the clin­ic this April

Several biotechs and pharma companies are looking to discover a universal flu vaccine that could protect humans from any strain of the virus, regardless of which is predicted to circulate. But given how many of these efforts are likely years away at best, are there any intermediate steps available to bridge that gap?

That’s the question University of Washington researcher Neil King and a group of NIH scientists are hoping to answer. In a new Nature paper published Wednesday, the team was able to demonstrate broad effectiveness in animal models for a “super-seasonal” flu vaccine by displaying multiple flu strains at the same time. And King says it’s starting human trials at the end of April.