Chinese tech giant Baidu licenses mRNA algorithm to Sanofi to optimize mRNA vaccines & therapy designs

CHINA – Chinese tech giant Baidu has announced an agreement with Sanofi, a leading biopharmaceutical company, to integrate LinearDesign, Baidu’s messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) design optimization platform, into Sanofi’s product design pipeline. The partnership is designed to address the storage, distribution, and efficacy challenges around mRNA vaccines. Sanofi will use the LinearDesign platform to contribute to the optimization of mRNA sequences for human therapeutic and preventive uses under the terms of the agreement. This agreement represents a significant step forward for Baidu in leveraging its computational biology expertise to optimize…

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Sanofi splashes US$180 million worth of investment in French AI startup Owkin

FRANCE – Sanofi has announced an equity investment of US$180 million in French startup Owkin, whose predictive algorithms aim to improve cancer research and development. According to company co-founder and CEO Thomas Clozel, the deal gives Sanofi a stake of between 10% and 15% in Owkin and elevates Owkin to the status of “unicorn” – a startup company valued at more than US$1 billion. Arnaud Robert, Sanofi’s chief digital officer, oversaw the transaction, which also included a partnership in which Owkin agreed to build prognostic models and help evaluate the…

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DocPlanner acquires Jameda to enter in Germany’s online healthcare space

POLAND – Polish healthcare platform and world’s largest online healthcare marketplace DocPlanner, has bought its German counterpart, Jameda in a big move that catapults it into Europe’s largest healthtech market. DoPlanner will invest significant capital and global expertise in Jameda as part of the acquisition, with a focus on rapidly growing the company’s sales, customer care, and marketing teams. The purchase price was not disclosed, but DocPlanner will add more than 200 new team members to Jameda as part of the agreement, investing more than a quarter billion euros (US$280.54)…

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Takeda’s drug bags FDA approval for post-transplant Cytomegalovirus infections

JAPAN – Takeda has received the first FDA approval for a treatment for refractory cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections in organ transplant patients, which can lead to complications and even death. Livtencity (maribavir) has been approved for use in transplant patients aged 12 and up who have CMV infections that do not respond to first-line CMV antiviral treatment with ganciclovir, valganciclovir, foscarnet, or cidofovir. The FDA followed the advice of its advisory committee and approved Livtencity for use regardless of whether patients are infected with CMV strains with resistance mutations, as testing…

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Arrowhead and GSK tie up to develop RNAi drug in a deal worth over US$1 billion

USA – Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, a company aiming to develop drugs using RNA interference technology, has announced that it has licensed an experimental medicine for a common liver disease to GlaxoSmithKline in a deal worth more than a billion dollars. According to the terms of the agreement, GSK will pay US$120 million up front and an additional US$130 million if Arrowhead’s drug generates positive data in a mid-stage study and then advances to a late-stage trial. If the drug is approved, Arrowhead could receive up to US$780 million in additional milestone…

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Huge blow to Gilead’s and Merck’s HIV strategy as safety concerns mar once-weekly HIV drug combination

USA – Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Merck have temporarily suspended enrollment in a Phase 2 clinical study evaluating an investigational once-weekly oral combination treatment regimen of islatravir and lenacapavir as combination treatment  in HIV patients. The decision comes less than a week after Merck revealed that dosing in a separate study evaluating its drug, islatravir, in combination with another therapy known as MK-8507, a novel non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) had been halted. The study recently discovered that patients who received the drugs had lower levels of certain types of…

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Low vaccination rate among health workers poses risk to already struggling healthcare workforce

CONGO – Only 27% of health workers in Africa have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, leaving the bulk of the workforce on the frontlines against the pandemic unprotected, a preliminary analysis by World Health Organization (WHO) has shown. Analysis of data reported from 25 countries finds that since March 2021, 1.3 million health workers were fully vaccinated, with just six countries reaching more than 90%, while nine countries have fully vaccinated less than 40%. In sharp contrast, a recent WHO global study of 22 mostly high-income countries reported that above…

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Global Diabetes numbers hit over 420 M as scientists advocate for lifestyle change

NIGERIA – About 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, the majority living in low-and middle-income countries, and 1.5 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year, according to Global Data. “For diabetes, prevention is the cheaper option. With healthy diet and lifestyle, we can avoid the killer disease” says Dr Felicia Anumah, a Professor of Medicine and Endocrinology, a Diabetologist and the current Dean Faculty of Clinical Sciences University of Abuja, Gwagwalada. “There’s unfortunately, a high out of pocket expenditure in Nigeria and with Diabetes care being a chronic…

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