💊 Novo dials up Aspen for insulin for Africa; Novartis dials down another deal with BeiGene; Bio Farma partners CEPI
#432 | New marker for autoimmune conditions; Danaher cuts TB test prices; Dopamine-based decision-making pits speed against accuracy
Hello, and welcome back to The Kable for a full day of life sciences news. Some good, some not-so-good, and some downright Musky.
The upcoming doses of the world's first malaria vaccine can't come fast enough for Kenya where malaria is resurgent. And yes, climate change is making it worse.
The Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) joins CEPI's Centralized Laboratory Network (CLN). Gavi has a nice profile of the institution which finds itself in the potential path between the world and the next pandemic.
Speaking of Uganda, the country's health ministry has embarked on an ambitious initiative of its own: to digitise the entire pharma supply chain from warehouse to end-users.
The second cohort of African startups to come out of Investing In Innovation Africa (i3) has been announced. The initiative, backed by the Gates Foundation, MSD, and more has selected 29 startups from 21 African countries across various aspects of the healthcare supply chain.
We all know diphtheria has taken root in Nigeria for a while. Now, there is news that it is spreading its wings in Vietnam as well with 6 cases being reported.
Indonesia's state-owned pharma company PT Bio Farma has been involved in several deals this year. In its latest alliance, Bio Farma has partnered for 10 years with CEPI to set up mRNA and viral vector rapid response vaccine manufacturing capability. The partnership comes with $15 million in funding support from CEPI as it looks to increase capacity in the Global South.
Elsewhere, PAHO is partnering with PATH in an agreement that aims to build resilient health systems to address common public health challenges in the Americas.
In Big Pharma news, Novartis proves its consistency when it comes to terminating partnerships with BeiGene. In the second such instance this year, the Swiss pharma is exiting its alliance with BeiGene for its cancer immunotherapy, Tislelizumab, with all global rights reverting to BeiGene. This news comes on the same day the drug got long-awaited approval from the European Commission for adults whose oesophagal squamous cell carcinoma has advanced after treatment with chemotherapy.
Sanofi, meanwhile, is intensifying its efforts to address the challenges posed by climate change and its impact on human health. Through its philanthropic arm, Foundation S has committed nearly EUR 40 million until 2030 to boost health resilience programs for communities affected by climate change. Concurrently, Sanofi aims for carbon neutrality by 2030 and is investing over EUR 450 million to diminish its environmental footprint, prioritising energy efficiency, resource circularity, and decarbonisation initiatives.
Was it last week that we spoke about Moderna looking to downsize production of its Covid vaccine? It sure hasn't taken the company long to match words with action, announcing today that it is cutting mRNA drug substance production at its production partner Lonza's Swiss facility.
The dodgy news for today. And with Elon Musk in the picture, it can't be anything but dodgy. Turns out his brain implant company Neuralink is ready to start human trials. Considering their primate trials were all in terminally ill monkeys according to the visionary space cowboy, what can we expect for human patients?
Oh, you thought bird flu had gone away? Not. A. Chance. Ecuador is reporting three dead birds in the Galapagos Islands, the first such cases reported from there ever.
And if you thought bird flu sounds not-so-nice, have you heard of Cow Covid? The illness also known as Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) has claimed the lives of hundreds of cattle across Europe since being first detected in November last year.
The Medicines for Malaria Venture is offering GMP technical assistance and has an open call-out for requests to be submitted before September 29.
And finally, rounding off with good news. The Global Fund has announced that Danaher is reducing the price of its Cepheid's Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra diagnostic test cartridges for TB by 20% in high-TB-burden countries.