💊 Novo Nordisk under the regulatory scanner in the UK; Tanzania reports a Marburg disease outbreak; The UN's WASH SDGs unlikely to materialise
#302 | ARPA-H takes shape; Tracking bats' immune systems; How good bacteria take over the gut
Hello, and welcome back to The Kable where there is good news, sort of, on the Covid front and a whole lot of viral detection.
First up, the India-based Foundation for Neglected Disease Research (FNDR) is partnering with Spain's DevsHealth to develop new broad-spectrum antiviral agents for infections caused by flaviviruses such as dengue, Zika, West Nile virus, and Japanese encephalitis, among others.
After losing its trade lobby membership in the UK, Novo Nordisk is now under regulatory scrutiny. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is launching its own probe into Novo Nordisk's conduct.
Speaking of the MHRA, the agency has announced sweeping changes to regulations governing clinical trials, which it says are the largest in more than 20 years. The object of these changes is to make it "faster and easier" to gain approval and run clinical trials in the UK. Among the new changes will be a facility to run regulatory and ethics reviews of clinical trial applications in parallel to reduce the time it takes to get a study up and running. The MHRA has also proposed a maximum 30-day period to review new trial applications and a maximum of 10 days after the receipt of the additional requested information.
In the US, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), launched last year to spur biotech innovation, is now open for business with a leadership team in place and $2.5 billion in funds.
Officials in Tanzania have confirmed its first-ever Marburg disease outbreak, which has already claimed five lives. This is Africa's second outbreak of the year already.
A new Covid origin theory continues to gain steam. Data from the early days of the pandemic was briefly uploaded to the GISAID database by Chinese scientists and researchers, in a preprint, say it gives information on Covid origins, including suggesting a role for raccoon dogs in the coronavirus reaching humans.
In good news on the Covid front, new data indicates people who get infected with an Omicron subvariant are less likely to get Long Covid.
Over in Uganda, it is now illegal to be gay or even belong to a sexual minority.
And finally, apropos of nothing, the latest World Happiness Report has just been published and Uganda is at a proud 113 in the rankings.