Research focused on finding viable solutions to counter the COVID-19 pandemic continues at an explosive pace with a total of 588 potential therapeutics and vaccines at the forefront of scientific efforts launched by industry, academia and government.
Just the name, Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), evokes the image of a huge warehouse, or a series of warehouses spread across the U.S., strategically stocked with all the medical supplies, diagnostics and drugs that will be needed nationwide to respond to any health emergency brought on by terrorists, nuclear attacks, pandemics or other public health hazards. The reality is so much more – and so much less.
On June 17, the FDA approved checkpoint blocker Keytruda (pembrolizumab, Merck & Co. Inc.) “for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with unresectable or metastatic tumor mutational burden-high (TMB-H) [?10 mutations/megabase (mut/Mb)] solid tumors, as determined by an FDA-approved test, that have progressed following prior treatment and who have no satisfactory alternative treatment options.”
In a step toward what may become the new normal, at least for now, the Pediatric Oncology Subcommittee of the FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee is meeting virtually Wednesday and Thursday to review pediatric development plans for four cancer drugs.
Whole genome sequencing is not part of treating patients in practice – or even involved in most clinical trials of drug candidates. But C2i Genomics Inc. is working to make that a reality. It applies pattern recognition to whole genome sequencing to create an individualized fingerprint for a given patient’s tumor. The New York-based startup has raised a $12 million series A round to back the development of its technology, which came out of Cornell and the New York Genome Center.
Before the lessons of COVID-19 fade into yesterday’s news, Congress should start preparing for the next pandemic, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is advising. As the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the senator issued a white paper Tuesday identifying areas that must be addressed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demanded much of the FDA, and commissioner Stephen Hahn said on a June 1 conference call that “there have been hiccups along the way” as the enormity of the threat came into view. The agency’s use of emergency use authorizations (EUAs) has drawn criticism, but Hahn defended those EUAs and other regulatory flexibilities even has he declared that the FDA is not “walking away from” randomized, controlled clinical trials as the gold standard for premarket review.
Fidget spinners are hand-held toys based on a roller bearing and three weighted lobes, which can spin freely, creating centrifugal force when activated manually. Generating centrifugal force with a fidget spinner takes neither electricity nor trained staff. And that has suggested to several researchers that such spinners, under the right circumstances, could be used for centrifugation under circumstances where reliably operating a centrifuge, for whatever reason, is a challenge.
Within a month of disclosing a CA$175.6 million (US$124.7 million) award from the Canadian government to use its antibody discovery platform for the analysis of patients who have recovered from COVID-19, Abcellera Biologics Inc. closed a $105 million series B financing aimed at expanding its capacity and investing in new technologies that complement its antibody discovery engine.