Pfizer Buys Cancer Drugmaker; FDA Orders Blood Banks to Test for Zika Virus

Pfizer acquired biotech cancer drugmaker Medivation for $14 billion after a competitive fight among other bidders. The acquired company has a cancer drug portfolio with one product on the market and several new drugs in their development pipeline. The marketed cancer treatment includes Xtandi to treat prostate cancer. That product generated about $2.2 billion in worldwide sales according to the company. 

In other news, the spread of the Zika virus to 2000+ cases in the United States has caused the FDA to request that blood banks in 11 states will need to begin testing for ZIka virus from blood donors. The Swiss firm, Roche diagnostics has developed an automated blood bank screening system that can identify Zika virus in a blood sample. The FDA has approved the utilization of the Roche diagnostic equipment for blood banks in the the 11 initial states beginning with in weeks.

Eventually down the line, the FDA said that they expect all blood banks in the entire USA to eventually screen the blood system for Zika virus. The expanded US virus screening program will likely begin sometime early in 2017. 

To date, most of the Zika infection cases have been in Puerto Rico and Miami, Florida. The area of infection is likely to spread to other Gulf states in the East and states on the West Coast such as California, Oregon or Nevada. Doctors have discovered that Zika virus can cause an expanding range of conditions including Guillan-Barret syndrome, and one person has died as a result of complications from a Zika virus infection.

Ways To Prevent Cancer

Apparently, there are three ways to help prevent cancer that everybody can do. First they should take a baby aspirin, 81 MG aspirin every day. Two, people should eat a Mediterranean diet. Three, have a lean body. This invites came from Dr. David Angus, who spoke on CBS This Morning last week.

Big Data to Help Cure Cancer

  Using big data technology may speed up discoveries needed to cure cancer. For example, according to Dr. David Agus, USC professor of medicine, speaking with Charlie Rose and others on the CBS news morning show, a recent big data study of ovarian cancer patients has shown that some of the patients that use beta blockers to treat their high blood pressure also enabled them to live four years longer than patients that did not use beta blockers.     This new discovery has led to a new clinical trial which will study the effect of using beta blockers to treat ovarian cancer. 

  Using big data to fight cancer is one of the cornerstones of Vice President Joe Biden’s Cure for Cancer Moonshot that he is championing. New information resulting from big data, will enable the use of individualized precision medicine concepts to cure peoples cancers. The hope is that this moonshot program will speed the progress in cancer research so that 10 years of work can be reduced to five years to bring cures to patients a lot sooner than is offered today.

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.

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