The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been aggressively pursuing fraud perpetrated on the American public in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, but the formal end of the U.S. public health emergency might seem to suggest that these efforts would be winding down. Nonetheless, deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco has announced that DOJ will open two new strike force offices under the agency’s COVID fraud operations, making clear that the agency is still intent on chasing down fraudsters across the U.S.
Research led by investigators at Ghent University in Belgium showed dysregulation of the complement part of the immune system, regulated by the pro-inflammatory protein interleukin (IL)-6, is a key driver of severe COVID-19 and a good target for drugs to treat the effects of the disease. Writing in the Aug. 23, 2023, issue of Science Translational Medicine, the researchers also described a cellular map of the alterations seen in the complement system during COVID-19 related respiratory deterioration for use in future research.
The COVID-19 pandemic might be officially over, but future variants could still pose a threat, and serious health consequences of the causative virus continue to arise, a fact that has prompted the U.S. government to offer Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. about $326 million to develop and manufacture a next-generation COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapy.
A study from Weill Cornell Medicine and The Jackson Laboratory has described the epigenetic mark SARS-CoV-2 left on immune system stem cells in the most severe cases of COVID-19 early in the pandemic, before the development of vaccines. In their work published in Cell on Aug. 18, 2023, the researchers presented a new methodology to analyze the epigenetic changes in monocytes and circulating hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) that give rise to monocytes. That allowed corresponding author Steven Josefowicz and his colleagues to see if there were already changes induced by COVID-19 before HSPCs differentiated into monocytes.
Regulatory snapshots, including global drug submissions and approvals, clinical trial approvals and other regulatory decisions and designations: Artiva, Biophytis, Bluebird, Servier, Sonnet, US Worldmeds.
How severe a viral infection is depends on how much the virus is replicating, damaging cells as it does so, and on the response of the immune system. Or so one would think. “Some of the most severe cases of COVID-19 are happening in the absence of replicating virus,” Joseph Guarnieri told BioWorld. In work published in Science Translational Medicine on Aug. 9, 2023, Guarnieri and his colleagues have described how those severe cases unfold, even as there is no replicating virus to be found.
Lemonex Inc. announced that the IND application for its mRNA vaccine candidate LEM-mR203 has been approved by the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) on July 21, 2023. The company plans to evaluate LEM-mR203 as potential treatment for COVID-19, with the planned phase I clinical trial being designed to assess its safety and immunogenicity in healthy adults at Seoul National University Hospital, Korea.
Novavax Inc. has signed off 6.5 million shares to SK Bioscience Co. Ltd. for an $85 million equity investment from the South Korean pharmaceutical firm, which also wrote off some of Novavax’s manufacturing liabilities, as part of their continuing vaccine alliance. Seongnam-si, South Korea-based SK Bioscience purchased Novavax shares at $13 each, reflecting a 59% premium over the 90-day trading value, to gain a 6.45% stake in the Gaithersburg, Md.-based mRNA vaccine company, an SK Bioscience spokesperson confirmed to BioWorld.