Ver­i­ly joins up with Duke, Stan­ford to en­list an army of con­sumers to put its next-gen sen­sor tech to the test — and in the pub­lic eye

Ver­i­ly Study Watch via Ver­i­ly

What can a new gen­er­a­tion of wear­able tech and biosen­sors teach us about dis­ease?

Ver­i­ly, for­mer­ly Google Life Sci­ences, is de­vel­op­ing and mar­ket­ing this tech. And it’s putting the com­pa­ny right at the cross­roads be­tween the bio­phar­ma in­dus­try and the pub­lic.

With con­sid­er­able fan­fare it’s an­nounc­ing a new pro­gram with Duke Uni­ver­si­ty and Stan­ford to re­cruit 10,000 par­tic­i­pants in a study to an­swer that ques­tion — us­ing this new tech to gath­er da­ta to pro­vide a base­line of in­for­ma­tion on healthy sub­jects and how they tran­si­tion to a dis­ease.

Each of the par­tic­i­pants will have their genome se­quenced and then tracked for at least four years, with their health da­ta col­lect­ed and stored in the Google cloud (nat­u­ral­ly).

Andy Con­rad, Ver­i­ly

So what does this mean to bio­phar­ma? Po­ten­tial­ly, quite a lot is at stake here af­ter Ver­i­ly has struck up deals with a num­ber of ma­jor phar­mas on dis­ease man­age­ment.

There’s a re­cent ven­ture formed with Sanofi — On­duo — to use mi­cro­elec­tron­ics to man­age di­a­betes, a core dis­ease fo­cus for the French phar­ma gi­ant. Glax­o­SmithK­line jumped in­to a $713 mil­lion joint ven­ture with Ver­i­ly to cre­ate new nan­otech-based bio­elec­tron­ic ther­a­peu­tics in a start­up called Gal­vani Bio­elec­tron­ics. And oth­ers have been in dis­cus­sions on how Ver­i­ly’s wear­able tech can track the course of a dis­ease like, say schiz­o­phre­nia, to help map a ther­a­peu­tic reg­i­men for pa­tients.

In this new pop­u­la­tion health project, in­ves­ti­ga­tors plan to gath­er in­for­ma­tion on bio­mark­ers linked to dis­ease de­vel­op­ment, all prime tar­gets for new drug de­vel­op­ment. And they’ll be us­ing Ver­i­ly’s new “Study Watch,” un­veiled a few days ago and re­viewed by An­to­nio Re­gal­a­do at MIT Tech­nol­o­gy Re­view, which in­cludes an elec­tro­car­dio­gram to study heart rhythms.

This new project not on­ly show­cas­es the tech­nol­o­gy Ver­i­ly is sell­ing to a world of con­sumers avid­ly in­ter­est­ed in mon­i­tor­ing their health. It can pro­vide in­sights on pa­tients in clin­i­cal tri­als and help di­rect re­searchers to new ther­a­pies in emerg­ing fields like the mi­cro­bio­me.

Ver­i­ly is do­ing this with a more prac­ti­cal ap­proach to health man­age­ment. In­stead of talk­ing about moon shots, Ver­i­ly’s chief — the col­or­ful Andy Con­rad — is fo­cused on tak­ing one care­ful step at a time to­ward a big new mar­ket.

Now it’s all about “set­ting the goal and then get­ting down to the day-to-day prac­ti­cal drudgery,” Con­rad told Bloomberg. “If you ex­am­ine the re­al moon­shot close­ly, you’ll see a dude whose job is to riv­et and a la­dy whose job is to do some wiring.”

They’re just do­ing it in a way sure to at­tract the at­ten­tion of every me­dia op­er­a­tion in the coun­try.

Ver­i­ly is al­ready deeply en­gaged with the in­dus­try on pol­li­nat­ing R&D and drug use with its tech­nol­o­gy. Now they want to get the pub­lic’s at­ten­tion. Ear­ly re­views would sug­gest that they’re off to a strong start.

Op­ti­miz­ing Cell and Gene Ther­a­py De­vel­op­ment and Pro­duc­tion: How Tech­nol­o­gy Providers Like Corn­ing Life Sci­ences are Spurring In­no­va­tion

Remarkable advances in cell and gene therapy over the last decade offer unprecedented therapeutic promise and bring new hope for many patients facing diseases once thought incurable. However, for cell and gene therapies to reach their full potential, researchers, manufacturers, life science companies, and academics will need to work together to solve the significant challenges facing the industry.

Pfiz­er, Sarep­ta and two oth­ers sug­gest Duchenne drug safe­ty is­sues tied to "class ef­fect"

Since the first experimental Duchenne gene therapy programs came about, the space has proven rife with safety issues and patient deaths in clinical trials. Pfizer and three biotechs now think they’ve found a reason why.

The four companies suggested there may be a “class effect” causing the adverse events in Duchenne gene therapies, they wrote in a new study. They specifically highlighted how side effects in five patients across three trials, who all showed muscle weakness with cardiac involvement, were “strikingly similar.”

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Pre­sent­ing a live End­points News event: Man­ag­ing a biotech in tur­bu­lent times

Biotech is one of the smartest, best educated industries on the planet. PhDs abound. We’ve had a long enough track record to see a new generation of savvy, experienced execs coming together to run startups.

And in these times, they are being tested as never before.

Biotech is going through quite a rough patch right now. For 2 years, practically anyone with a decent resume and some half-baked ideas on biotech could start a company and get it funded. The pandemic made it easy in many ways to pull off an IPO, with traditional road shows shut down in exchange for a series of quick Zoom meetings. Generalist investors flocked as the numbers raised soared into the stratosphere.

De­spite fed­er­al ef­forts to di­ver­si­fy clin­i­cal tri­als, progress re­mains 'stag­nan­t' — re­port

While calls to diversify clinical trials have grown louder in recent years — gaining support from federal agencies such as the FDA and NIH — progress has largely stalled, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Swaths of patients in racial and ethnic minority groups, as well as LGBTQIA+, pregnant and older adult populations continue to be left out of clinical trials. While some advances have been made in the last 30 years — women now account for roughly half of clinical trial participants — growth in other areas remains stagnant, according to the report, which was mandated by Congress and sponsored by the NIH.

Paul Chaplin, Bavarian Nordic president and CEO

Bavar­i­an Nordic se­cures BAR­DA con­tract for small­pox vac­cine

It seems that smallpox vaccination production is weighing on the mind of the US government. And manufacturer Bavarian Nordic is the latest company to benefit.

Just a few days after Emergent, a company that has made government contracts its lifeblood, acquired the exclusive rights to Tembexa from Chimerix, with a $225 million cash payment and an expected BARDA contract, the agency has offered a contract for smallpox vaccine production.

Lina Khan, FTC chair (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

New FTC com­mis­sion­er could turn the tide for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to PBMs

The Senate last week voted along party lines, 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaker, to make President Biden appointee Alvaro Bedoya the deciding vote on a split 2-2 Federal Trade Commission.

The addition of Bedoya to the FTC could not only spell more trouble for biopharma M&A activity, as he may align with his Democrat partners to break the FTC ties, but it may also mean that FTC Chair Lina Khan has what she needs to move forward on a study around the pharma middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers.

Patty Murray (D-WA) (Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Sen­ate user fee reau­tho­riza­tion bill omits ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval re­forms, shows wide gaps with House ver­sion

The Senate health committee on Tuesday released its first version of the bill to reauthorize all the different FDA user fees. But unlike the House version, there are only a few controversial items in the Senate’s version, which does not address either accelerated approval reforms or clinical trial diversity (as the House did).

While it’s still relatively early in the process of finalizing this legislation (the ultimate statutory deadline is the end of September), the House and Senate, at least initially, appear to be starting off in different corners on what should be included.

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Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway CEO

Berk­shire Hath­away pulls out of Ab­b­Vie, Bris­tol My­ers Squibb in­vest­ments

It looks like Warren Buffett is sticking to ice cream and railroads for the moment.

The billionaire CEO of Berkshire Hathaway backed out of two major holdings in the pharma industry, Forexlive first reported, including a $410 million investment in AbbVie and a $324.4 million stake in Bristol Myers Squibb.

The move comes after Berkshire abandoned its Teva shares just last quarter, Bloomberg reported.

Long-ex­pect­ed UK lay­offs im­mi­nent for No­var­tis fol­low­ing sale

Nearly a year ago, more than 200 workers at Novartis’ Grimsby, UK, facility were able to hang on to their jobs after the pharma closed a Switzerland site as a part of its workforce restructuring plan. Now, it looks like those employees’ time is up, as the site has been sold, Grimsby Telegraph reported today.

The manufacturing site has been sold to Humber Industrials, a subsidiary of International Process Plants. None of the current staff members will be working with the new owners, however.