Zika Virus Migration Scarier Than Thought

Zika virus now scarier than was originally thought. Zika virus has been found to have caused more neurological conditions than previously thought. The virus causes micro encephaly a condition in which a newborn child has an unusually small brain and head. In addition to that, other conditions have emerged including eye problems in babies, Guillan Barre, abnormal fetal ultrasounds in pregnant women. Further doctors have found that Zika virus stays in adults longer than expected. As a result the world health organization suggests that man returning from Zika virus infected areas such as Brazil abstain from having sex for more than eight weeks rather than four weeks, which was the previous suggestion.The CDC said that there are more then 650 reported cases of pregnant women who have the Zika virus infection. The first case of a pregnant woman giving birth to a baby with microcephaly was reported yesterday in New Jersey. The woman came to the US from Honduras.  

Superbugs are spreading outside hospitals

Superbugs, known as antibiotic – resistant bacteria that drive hospital acquired infections are spreading to the community. The most common kind in the US is a gram-negative bacteria MRSA. Gram – negative bacteria are hard to treat because they have an armor like shell around them. Reports from India in recent years have uncovered new kinds of gram negative bacteria that contain an enzyme called NDM-1. The enzyme confers resistance to antibiotics. The gene for this enzyme can easily be transferred directly to nearby bacteria. Treating patients having such bacterial infections is a nightmare. 

Zika virus to Impact Olympic Games

The emergence of Zika virus in late 2015 in Brazil will likely cause lower attendance of the Olympics there this year. An article in Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News for February 2016 said that recent studies by scientists from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and Universidad Sucre in Columbia have verified that Zika. Virus has reached Columbia. Recent TV news has reported that the virus has already infected several persons returning to the US. The CDC Is warning travelers going to and from Brazil to abstain from sex. Zika in a pregnant woman can cause birth defect, a small head and underdeveloped brain.

Key Biotech Tools Emerging for 2016

 Key biotech research technologies seem to be emerging in 2016. President Obama’s expanded war against cancer will enable more technologies that will help fight cancer by earlier detection and the use of immunotherapy’s and targeted therapies driven by precision medicine. Gene editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas-9 have the potential to enable scientists to edit and modify genes, with the hope of repairing disease causing mutations. New improvements to next-generation sequencing systems will emerge in the near-term. These and numerous other biotechnologies will make 2016 an interesting year of innovation.

Amfar to Make Key HIV Cures in New  SF R&D Center

News came today that a new HIV R&D center will be built in San Francisco to cure once and for all HIV infections​.

The goal of the center is to find a cure for HIV by sometime between now and 2020 or so.

In-Silico Drugmaker Highlights Rapid Rx Development at BIO Investor Forum

 BIO Investor Forum meeting October 21, 2015, Parc 55 Hilton Hotel, San Francisco. Cyclica is an emerging biotech firm that invented a therapeutic platform based on technologies. It’s called the Ligand Express (TM). The company is now in a license deal with Johnson & Johnson . They repurposed a pharmaceutical product made in the US. The DoD asked them to weed out 2000 drugs down to 53 and eventually they selected one, Zoloft. It turns out that this drug works against Ebola. The Army’s recent deployment of 3000 people to Africa to set up field hospitals, used Zoloft to treat Ebola patients.

Another example, Procter & Gamble has a drug compound that was causing skin irritation in some people that use their Olay skin cream products. It caused a rash. The company isolated three compounds that cause the issue and then eliminated the compound. 

The company’s vision is to 

  •  Cut drug development costs in half
  •  FDA to approve their drugs and 
  • Be the best tech platform for every doc to do personalized medicine solution in the future. 

The goal is to create an automated platform compared to other in-Silico players. Other in Silico firms look for chemogenic compounds, but this company does it all via Ligands. The company’s business model is mainly to work with big pharmaceutical and nutraceutical projects. 

The platform is like the eBay platform. For example on a project basis they might get $10,000 $20,000 in revenue with this model. The second thing they would do is have a license model in which they would receive $25,000 or more per project. 

Their current prospects include Procter & Gamble, the Department of Defense or other similar types of firms. The CEO’s name is Paul Angelico. He said that they will need $20 million in cash by 2019. They currently seek $9.5 million from VC investors.

Growing trend in cancer research includes more epigenetics insights.  

I recently read an interesting cancer research article that reviewed trends in epigenetics based epidemiology research. The article is called Epigenetics in Cancer Epidemiology: Trends, Opportunities, and Challenges. The free article was published in December 2013 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. Which is produced by the AACR. The authors of the article work for the NCI, the National Cancer Institute. The article cited data from the NCI research grants as well as related articles published in pubmed. The study revealed that the top number of cancers: colorectal cancer lung cancer and breast cancer. The findings of this meta-study offers opportunities to translational research organizations as well as suppliers of research tools and technologies. This information will enable future application of the findings in the clinic. 

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