💊 Project NextGen prepares for the future of Covid; Temasek becomes majority stakeholder in India’s Manipal hospital chain
#316 | H3N8 kills first human; Layoff season is boomin’; On risks of virus research, scientists illumine
Hello, and welcome to The Kable again! You know by now that the life sciences world operates in full swing on Tuesdays. So today’s Kable runneth over with updates and insights that you don't want to miss.
To begin with, Singapore’s wealth fund Temasek is acquiring an additional 41% stake in India’s Manipal Health Enterprises for a deal priced upwards of $2 billion. This makes it a majority stakeholder (59%) in India’s second-largest hospital chain.
The US' Catalent has begun constructing its $20 million expansion project at its clinical supply facility in Germany, enhancing its storage and handling capacity for clinical trial supply materials and installing a fully automatic bottle filling line.
Ultima Genomics – which has developed a relatively cheaper whole-genome sequencing platform – is partnering with Genome Insight to use the latter’s AI-based bioinformatics platform to generate potential treatment options for cancer patients based on their genetic makeup.
Merck & Co and Eisai are pulling the plug on the phase 3 study of their Keytruda plus Lenvima trial to treat metastatic melanoma as an interim analysis showed that the drug combo was no better at preventing death than Keytruda alone. However, the drug combo is already approved for endometrial cancer and advanced kidney cancer and is still being trialled as a treatment for a whole other range of tumours.
Germany’s Evotec Systems remain offline as the biotech is assessing the aftermath of a cyber attack last week.
A new report indicates that venture capital funding for APAC’s digital health industry stood at $5.79 billion in 2022. A decrease in funding in the first three quarters, followed by a bounce back in Q4, translated to a 41% year-on-year decrease from 2021.
It feels like 2023 has just begun, but already, BioPharma Dive reports that more than five dozen biotech and pharma companies have become lighter by over 5,000 employees this year. California-based NGM Biopharmaceuticals is laying off 75 employees. Massachusetts-based Biogen – in a second round of goodbyes since last year – is also letting go of an unannounced number of employees in the US, mainly from the multiple sclerosis team.
Meanwhile, in Britain, the Department of Health is encouraging smokers to make the switch to vapes, even though the long-term effects of these are still unknown. Pregnant women can also expect ££ incentives to make the swap.
Over in Korea, regulatory authorities have found a carcinogen in hypertension medicines produced in the country using raw materials from India.
China is marking the first human H3N8 death ever, as a woman infected with H3N8 bird flu passes away.
In India, experts are lamenting the lack of health coverage for approximately 800 million people in the country.
A new data collection endeavour in India has revealed that the state of Gujarat is at the top of the list of heat ailments, accounting for 82% of all reported cases in the country.
On the polio front, Chad, the DRC and Mozambique have reported more cases of vaccine-derived polio. Peru, meanwhile, is waiting on test results for a suspected case and contacts of the country’s first patient.
And finally, NASA astronauts might just have to DIY their own pharmaceutical solutions in the future.