SEATTLE – Tracing the family tree of COVID-19 through its evolving DNA sequence makes it possible to disprove many false claims circulating on social media about the novel coronavirus, and, in particular, that it was generated in a covert biological weapons program. In fact, the volume of misinformation about COVID-19 led World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to label it an “infodemic.” WHO has set up a team to monitor and respond to “myths and rumors” around the clock. Along with debunking bioweapon conspiracy theories, the genomes of 100 samples of COVID-19 taken from patients that have been sequenced to date also are providing insights into the epidemiology of the virus.
Wall Street liked the update from Novato, Calif.-based Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc., which reported on its progress with Crysvita (burosumab). Partnered with Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co. Ltd., the fibroblast growth factor 23-blocking antibody was first approved in April 2018 for adults and children ages 1 and older with X-linked hypophosphatemia, a rare, inherited form of rickets. The total 2019 revenue is $103.7 million, with $87.3 million going to Ultragenyx. Cowen analyst Yaron Werber said the company’s “solid fourth quarter ushers genetic therapy pipeline to the front and center,” as Ultragenyx is poised for data readouts later this year.
HONG KONG – South Korea’s venture capital investment in the biopharma and medical sector set a new record in 2019. According to Korea Venture Capital Association (KVCA), local VC firms invested ₩1.1 trillion (US$930 million) over a total of 299 bio and medical ventures last year, representing 25.8% of the total VC investment executed in 2019.
Eisai Co. Ltd. is removing Belviq (lorcaserin) from the U.S. market due to the FDA’s concerns about an increased occurrence of cancer in a long-term trial evaluating the cardiovascular effects associated with the weight-loss drug.
Privately held Zhittya Genesis Medicine Inc., of Las Vegas, received approval from Mexico’s Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios (Cofepris) to begin a phase I trial at the Zambrano Hospital in Monterrey for patients with Parkinson’s disease. Zhittya said it is developing a family of biological drugs to treat diseases characterized by diminished blood flow, or perfusion, to specific tissues or organs. In addition to Parkinson’s, the firm is targeting a variety of disorders and diseases, including coronary heart disease, diabetic foot ulcers, stroke recovery, Alzheimer’s disease and 14 additional major medical disorders characterized by insufficient blood perfusion.
BioWorld's offices will be closed in observance of Presidents Day in the U.S. No issue will be published Monday, Feb. 17.
The articles from BioWorld’s ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak are available at www.bioworld.com/coronavirus. The collection includes breaking research, clinical, regulatory and business development news on coronaviruses reaching back to 1991. Featured topics: vaccines and diagnostics in development, the science underpinning the virus, comparison to previous outbreaks such as Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), global regulatory factors and the business news underpinning the research including development collaborations and investment trends.
Appili, Assertio, Atreca, Celltrion, Collegium, Collplant, CTI Biopharma, Cytodyn, Deciphera, Diamedica, Epizyme, Exicure, Genetx, Genix, J&J, Karyopharm, Melinta, Navidea, Noxopharm, Oncodna, Recce, Regulus, Seelos, Sellas Life Sciences, Sol-Gel, Takeda, Vaxil, Verona, Xbiotech