Week of Dec. 19, 2022

It has been quite the year in life sciences as we try to define a new normal following the pandemic. While funding struggled, breakthroughs abounded. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration continued its work on drug pricing and clinical trial diversity. We can’t capture it all in one article, but this week we look at a few of our most interesting stories from the year.

Also, please note, we’ll be pausing publication the weeks of Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 due to the holidays. We’ll resume publication the week of Jan. 9. Meanwhile, wishing you a joyous holiday season and a happy new year!

A Swedish researcher’s work studying the genomes of ancient humans and their relatives has shed surprising light on the history of humans and what makes us unique. To make these discoveries, he had to push what was possible in genetic analysis, including extracting DNA from fossilized bones, sequencing genomes of ancient humans and recovering DNA from caves where humans and their relatives once lived.

A successful implant of a genetically modified pig heart into a human was announced. Ten genetic modifications were made to the heart to help with the procedure and reduce the chances that the body would reject the heart. It’s still very early stages in the field, but this achievement has the potential to help address the global shortage of organ transplants.

Researchers and health care providers are leveraging technology and breakthrough gene sequencing techniques to reduce timelines and increase effectiveness of patient treatment. In a recent study, a team of doctors sequenced the DNA of 12 seriously ill patients, received results in an average of eight hours, and were able to bring tangible changes in the treatment of five of those patients. This turnaround time is about half of current sequencing records, and the team is convinced it can be halved again. Along with larger gene databases and increased testing accuracy throughout the industry, these shorter turnaround times can result in a higher quality of care, avoidance of costly tests and hospital stays, and the chance to deliver life-saving treatments. The study focused not only on the use of new technologies and data analytics, but how the overall diagnostic process can be better streamlined. There are several institutions running similar studies, and this is seen as a major and collaborative step forward in the treatment of patients.

A mechanical engineering team designed and built a mini robot powered by magnetic fields. By shifting the magnetic strength and orientation the robot can overcome various obstacles throughout the body. This allows the robot to carry medicine and release only when it reaches the desired location. The team is currently refining and improving the design and capabilities of the device but hopes it can one day be used for targeted drug therapy treatments.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes a provision that allows Medicare to negotiate drug pricing with manufacturers. Although the number of medications affected is limited each year, the impact to drugmakers could be substantial. In the first year the legislation is enacted, the impact will be limited to small-molecule drugs; starting in 2028, however, biologics covered under Part B of the act would also be in scope for negotiation.

Source link: https://realeconomy.rsmus.com/5-things-to-know-in-life-sciences-week-of-dec-19-2022/ by Justin Culbertson at realeconomy.rsmus.com