Biotech’s Battlefront: Monoclonal Antibodies

Since their premier on the scene, monoclonal antibodies (mAb) have demanded top billing on the biotech marquee, creating a cast of therapeutics used to treat diseases like autoimmune disorders and cancer. The first player debuted in 1986 when Janssen-Cilag’s OKT3 gained FDA approval to treat transplant rejection patients. Fast forward to 2013, where half of the top ten best selling … Read More

A chip off the new block

PERSONAL GENOMICS TURNS HEADS IN BIOTECH   23andMe, the Silicon Valley based personal genomics company named for the 23 pairs of chromosomes in a normal human cell, is turning a few heads in the biotechnology industry lately. After a very public and still unresolved dust-up with the FDA’s decision to halt marketing of the company’s DNA-based personal “health reports”, 23andMe … Read More

Cultivating biologics from plants?

A fresh look at tobacco and biologics   Tobacco plants pioneering the production of monoclonal antibodies for an experimental Ebola treatment turned out to be quite the head scratcher for last Thursday’s WEEKLY readers. With tobacco’s reputation polluting our recent memories, let’s take a fresh look at tobacco and biologics. To date no approved therapeutic protein has been produced in … Read More

Tiny Virus, Big Problem

YEARS IN THE MAKING, EBOLA BUBBLES TO THE SURFACE   Bubbling under the surface for years like a volcano packing heat, Ebola erupts into a stark reality for the world health community. First appearing in 1976, Ebola is a classified “Category A” potential bioterrorism agent. With an incubation period of up to 21 days—early symptoms mimick the everyday flu—it’s entirely possible infected individuals board … Read More

It’s not so elementary my dear watson

PLAYING DETECTIVE WITH CHECKPOINT THERAPIES Over the past two weeks we’ve discussed cancer immunotherapies that involve training T-cells (the detective warriors of our immune system) into seeking and destroying cancer cells. This week we’ll take a look into another approach that has been creating a lot of recent excitement: checkpoint inhibitor drugs. Simply put, investigators believe they have figured out a way to … Read More

Breaking the Ice with ALS

ALS awareness is on the rise thanks to the ubiquitous ‘ice bucket challenges’ making worldwide headlines. This social media phenomena prompts us here at WEEKLY to wonder, what is this disease and where does the biotech industry stand? ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Scelerosis. Let’s break it down to its roots: ‘a’ means no ‘myo’ means muscle ‘trophic’ means nourishment … Read More

Cerdelga, 25 years in the making

We have a new orphan drug on the market thanks to last week’s FDA approval of Cerdelga, a small-molecule therapeutic developed by Sanofi for treatment of Gaucher’s disease. This rare genetic disorder is thought to affect around 6,000 in the United States. Regular WEEKLY readers know we like to highlight new drug approvals — after all, there’s only 25 to … Read More

Breaking from the Pack with Cancer Diagnostics

Regular WEEKLY readers know cancer stems from the division of a single cell leaping to uncontrolled growth and then growing into a tumor. So, how exactly does cancer disrupt the life process? Sometimes tumors grow to such a size the function of a vital organ is no longer viable. But mostly cancer kills by metastasis: when cells from the tumor … Read More

Driving down the Epigenetic Highway

Biotechnology is enjoying another banner year on Wall Street, currently there are at least 39 companies queued for an IPO. This led us here at the WEEKLY to wonder: what is the actual science behind each company’s promise that leads public markets to invest billions of dollars? This week and next, we’re popping open the hood and checking out what … Read More

Pioneers in the Land of Small Proteins

We continue last week’s trek into the IPO wilderness to explore the technology of Zurich-based Molecular Partners. What are they in search of? A new class of small protein therapeutics, referred to by their acronym: DARPins. DARPins inherently share some of the same advantages monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have over small molecule drugs. But DARPins go a step further and offer … Read More