Da­ta sug­gest US, UK uni­ver­si­ties fall woe­ful­ly short on re­port­ing clin­i­cal tri­al re­sults

Clin­i­cal tri­al da­ta are used by pa­tients, doc­tors and pol­i­cy­mak­ers to make in­formed choic­es about the ben­e­fits and safe­ty of in­ter­ven­tions — while the meth­ods and re­sults of all tri­als are cru­cial to the pace and di­rec­tion of sci­en­tif­ic progress. How­ev­er, there is a large body of ev­i­dence that sug­gests that com­plet­ed clin­i­cal tri­als are com­mon­ly left un­re­port­ed, and ed­u­ca­tion­al in­sti­tu­tions in the Unit­ed States and the Unit­ed King­dom — ar­guably the two biggest re­gions that breed the bulk of med­ical in­no­va­tion — have emerged as one of the key cul­prits guilty of these vi­o­la­tions.

In the Unit­ed States, Con­gress passed a law in 2007 re­quir­ing tri­al spon­sors — in­clud­ing uni­ver­si­ties — to post the re­sults of cer­tain clin­i­cal tri­als on clin­i­cal­tri­als.gov with­in a year of tri­al com­ple­tion, and a decade lat­er in Jan­u­ary 2017 the rule was fi­nal­ized. Since 2017, 40 lead­ing US uni­ver­si­ties should have post­ed the re­sults of 450 clin­i­cal tri­als — but over a third (31%) of those re­sults are miss­ing, ac­cord­ing to an analy­sis by Uni­ver­si­ties Al­lied for Es­sen­tial Med­i­cines (UAEM) in part­ner­ship with non-prof­it re­search ad­vo­ca­cy group TranspariMED.

The vi­o­la­tors in­clude some of the most ac­tive tri­al spon­sors: For ex­am­ple the MD An­der­son Can­cer Cen­ter, which has on­ly re­port­ed 77% of due tri­als, Mayo Clin­ic (42%), UC San Fran­cis­co (37%), New York Uni­ver­si­ty (21%), and Co­lum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty (17%).

A sum­ma­ry of re­sults by per­cent­age of each uni­ver­si­ty eval­u­at­ed can be seen be­low:

Source: UAEM, TranspariMED

Click on the im­age to see the full-sized ver­sion

Over­all, 140 clin­i­cal tri­als are still miss­ing re­sults and five uni­ver­si­ties are re­spon­si­ble for half of the un­re­port­ed tri­als: Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia San Fran­cis­co (17 tri­als with­out re­sults), Co­lum­bia (15 tri­als), Mayo Clin­ic (13), MD An­der­son Can­cer Cen­ter (12) and Chica­go (8), ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

These trans­paren­cy vi­o­la­tions are con­cern­ing con­sid­er­ing at least half of the valu­able med­i­cines that ex­ist to­day were orig­i­nal­ly de­vel­oped in uni­ver­si­ty labs with tax­pay­er fund­ing, in­clud­ing al­most all vac­cines, many HIV and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis drugs, and even in­sulin, the re­port not­ed. Be­tween 2010 and 2016, every sin­gle one of the 210 FDA-ap­proved med­i­cines can be traced back to fund­ing from the NIH, ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished in the of­fi­cial jour­nal of the Na­tion­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences.

Mean­while, these trans­paren­cy trans­gres­sions are echoed in the UK. Reg­u­la­tions in Eu­rope are sim­i­lar. Any tri­al of of any med­i­c­i­nal prod­uct con­duct­ed since 2004 in an EU coun­try has al­ready been re­quired to reg­is­ter on the Eu­ro­pean Union Clin­i­cal Tri­als Reg­is­ter (EU­C­TR) and since 2012, spon­sors must en­sure that all reg­is­tered tri­als since 2004 dis­close their re­sults to the EMA with­in 12 months of tri­al com­ple­tion. But the de­lays to the EMA’s soft­ware plat­form pushed the fi­nal date for re­sults post­ing by spon­sors to late De­cem­ber 2016.

Ben Goldacre

In a BMJ study pub­lished in 2018 — led by Ben Goldacre, a best-sell­ing au­thor, med­ical doc­tor and re­searcher who fo­cus­es on un­pack­ing the mis­use of sci­ence and sta­tis­tics in his books Bad Sci­ence and Bad Phar­ma — it was found that in Eu­rope, of the 7274 tri­als where re­sults were due, 49.5% re­port­ed re­sults. Tri­als with a com­mer­cial spon­sor (such as a drug de­vel­op­er) were sub­stan­tial­ly more like­ly to post re­sults than those with a non-com­mer­cial spon­sor (68.1% v 11.0%), the analy­sis sug­gest­ed.

Out of his labs at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ox­ford, Goldacre set up an EU Tri­al­sTrack­er to con­tin­u­ous­ly mon­i­tor the re­port­ing of tri­als. As of 10 Jan­u­ary 2019, Goldacre and his team have iden­ti­fied 8,062 reg­is­tered tri­als that are ‘un­am­bigu­ous­ly’ due to re­port re­sults — but re­sults on just over half  (53.6%) have been post­ed to the reg­istry. The da­ta, which sug­gest­ed that UK uni­ver­si­ties were less re­li­able than drug de­vel­op­ers, sparked the in­ter­est of House of Com­mons Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Com­mit­tee. UK uni­ver­si­ties could be brought in front of the com­mit­tee if they fail to im­prove their track record, and the com­mit­tee will ask them to ex­plain them­selves in a fol­low-up ev­i­dence ses­sion if im­prove­ments are not made.

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Roivant par­lays a $450M chunk of eq­ui­ty in biotech buy­out, grab­bing a com­pu­ta­tion­al group to dri­ve dis­cov­ery work

New Roivant CEO Matt Gline has crafted an all-equity upfront deal to buy out a Boston-based biotech that has been toiling for several years now at building a supercomputing-based computational platform to design new drugs. And he’s adding it to the Erector set of science operations that are being built up to support their network of biotech subsidiaries with an eye to growing the pipeline in a play to create a new kind of pharma company.

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Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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Roche and Genen­tech re­searchers plot $53M dis­cov­ery quest aimed at spark­ing a 'Holy moly' piv­ot in neu­ro R&D

Roche and Genentech have committed $53 million to back a 10-year quest aimed at going back to the drawing board to use new technology and fresh scientific insights to generate a pipeline of drugs for neurological diseases.

Researchers from both Roche and its big South San Francisco hub — mixing teams from gRED and pRED this time — will mix it up with the scientists drawn together for the Weill Neurohub — formed in 2019 as a joint research partnership involving UCSF, Berkeley and the University of Washington — in an exploration of the field to develop new therapies for some of the toughest diseases in drug R&D: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS and autism.

Am­gen, As­traZeneca speed to­ward fil­ing next-gen an­ti­body for asth­ma af­ter un­cork­ing full late-stage da­ta

On the hunt for a novel competitor to Sanofi and Regeneron’s Dupixent in severe asthma, Amgen and AstraZeneca posted “exciting” results from their next-gen antibody late last year. Now, the partners are showing their hands, and the results look good enough for approval.

Amgen and AstraZeneca’s tezepelumab plus standard of care cut the rate of severe asthma attacks by 56% at the one-year mark compared with SOC alone, according to full data from the Phase III NAVIGATOR study presented Friday at the virtual American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology meeting. And those significant results were consistent regardless of patients’ baseline eosinophil counts.

Tal Zaks, Moderna CMO (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, via still image from video)

CMO Tal Zaks bids Mod­er­na a sur­prise adieu as biotech projects $18.4B in rev­enue, plots post-Covid ex­pan­sion

How do you exit a company after six years in style? Developing one of the most lucrative and life-saving products in pharma history is probably not the worst way to go.

Tal Zaks, Moderna’s CMO since 2015, will leave the mRNA biotech in September, the biotech disclosed in their annual report this morning. The company has already retained the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds to find a replacement.

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Glax­o­SmithK­line re­thinks strat­e­gy for Covid-19 an­ti­body — not the Vir ones — af­ter tri­al flop. Is there hope in high-risk pa­tients?

In the search for a better Covid-19 therapeutic, GlaxoSmithKline and Vir have partnered up on two antibodies they hope have a chance. GSK is also testing its own in-house antibody, and early results may have shut the door on its widespread use.

A combination of GSK’s monoclonal antibody otilimab plus standard of care couldn’t best standard of care alone in preventing death and respiratory failure in hospitalized Covid-19 patients after 28 days, according to data from the Phase IIa OSCAR study unveiled Thursday.

With dust set­tled on ac­tivist at­tack, Lau­rence Coop­er leaves Zio­pharm to a new board

Laurence Cooper has done his part.

In the five years since he left a tenured position at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center to become CEO of Boston-based Ziopharm, he’s steered the small-cap immunotherapy player through patient deaths in trials, clinical holds, short attacks and, most recently, an activist attack on the board.

So when the company has “fantastic news” like an IND clearance for a TCR T cell therapy program, he’s ready to pass on the baton.

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