Posts Tagged Infectious Diseases

Life Sciences Industry Outlook for 2018: Post BiotechShowcase & JPM

Image result for Biotech Showcase 2018, JPM18JPM 2018 and concurrent events just ended with what may be one of its biggest draws.  As many as 10,000 people from life science industry and its related sectors are likely to have descended upon the city, during last four days.  In addition to JPM event itself, everything health was under review and up for discussion at various conferences including at EBD Group & Demy Colten’s #BiotechShowcase #DigitalMedicine #BTS18 and #WuXiGlobalForum2018 . Networking and deal making continued late in the nights at various receptions held across the city. Receptions by legal firms like #WilsonSonsini #MoFoLLP #ReedSmithLLP attracted some of the biggest crowds.

IMG_20180110_170128791.jpgOverall the tone for 2018, seemed highly optimistic.  BiotechShowcase held a media roundup and echoes of optimism were heard from almost all panelists @barbara_ryan12 @TriangleInsight @CarolineYLChen @adamfeuerstein @statnews @SFBIZronleuty @BrittanyMeiling @endpts @juliet_preston @medcitynews @ldtimmerman .

Image result for biotech innovationThere is a general agreement that the pace of #innovation in biotech greatly accelerated in 2017 and is likely to continue. According to Luke Timmeerman, “sheer velocity of news in healthtech innovation is fascinating”. Transformative therapies across huge and diverse range of diseases are increasingly focusing on cures and going beyond the short term treatment focus. The surge of innovation has been led by focus on oncology although concern was also raised in one of the panels that we still continue to get stymied and realize how friggin smart the disease of cancer is and if we will truly crack the code on cancer in the immediate upcoming years. All signs are however, that next year we may see critical data from some clinical trials in immuno-oncology space that can cause market spikes.

Here are some areas of concern raised in some of the panels. In 2017, a slight dip was observed in the areas of orphan and rare diseases. Also there seemed to be a general consensus that we need smart policies that incentivize new anti microbial drugs and other treatments for infectious diseases. Due to increasing resistance of antibiotics, there is an ongoing and real fear for some of the infectious diseases to turn into pandemics. These are areas that bold entrepreneurs may focus on. Also medical devices continues to remain somewhat underfunded. Discussions around accelerating healthcare costs and drug pricing issues creeped over into many panels. Entrepreneurs with disruptive pricing innovation in product development as well as healthcare can easily have a tremendous leverage. It can’t be overstressed that finding effective pricing solutions holds key to continued and sustainable growth in healthcare sector.

Discussion in one of the panels focused for a few minutes around large investments in life sciences and if that indicated a healthtech bubble that may be due for a crash.  Indeed, some experts observed that pace of 2017 is unlikely to continue and there may well be a slight dip in 2018. But overall the consensus seemed to be, that a steep and deep pipeline of innovation in R&D is likely to prevent a crash, and the venture funding blizzard is likely to continue. Overall, the feeling among investors and healthcare experts was that among the industry, there is a strong focus on science and people are pursuing innovation with discipline that will ensure unprecedented mechanisms and novel medicines. All this activity is taking healthcare to a new level of cures and sustainability and stability from temporary treatment focus. Exciting indeed to be living in this era of amazing healthcare innovation.



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Desiree LaBeaud & Seema Handu discussed Sustainable Global Health Initiatives for Children in the Developing World at on February 7, 2012.

Seema Handu, PhD, Managing Director of CGHI (Children’s Global Health Initiative, shared the organization’s mission to address health issues identified by the UN with respect to children and maternal health.  Every year, 10.6 million children under the age of 5 die and many of these deaths could be prevented with better healthcare and nutrition.  CGHI only goes to a country when invited and collaborates with local in-country clinics to devise sustainable programs in clinical services, translational research, and capacity funding for infrastructure, medical supplies, and medicines.

Dr. Desiree LaBeaud is assistant scientist at CHORI (Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, and a clinician at the Children’s Hospital in the Pediatric Infectious Diseases.  LaBeaud leads efforts in research, containment, and cure of arboviral infections and their long-term health consequences.  Arboviral infections are caused from arthropod or mosquito-borne viruses.  While previously these outbreaks were more contained to smaller geographical areas, they now spread easily and can lead quickly to major worldwide epidemics due to such influences of modern life, like urbanization, land reclamation, deforestation, military activities, war, natural calamities, climate change, and increased mobility.  Many of these infectious diseases are highly debilitating, often with long lasting effects.  For instance, Chikungunya causes fever and debilitating arthritis that can last for months and sometimes years.  Dengue is the #1 mosquito borne viral infection in the world and causes an illness of sudden onset with headaches, fever, sever joint and muscle pain and recovery takes several weeks.  Dr. LaBeaud specifically investigates Rift Valley fever virus in Kenya, with outbreaks causing debilitating diseases like hemorrhagic fever, retinitis, and encephalitis.  Many of these diseases are also accompanied by long lasting cognitive impairment, confusion, somatic problems, extreme fatigue, concentration problems, memory loss, and psychosis.

Currently there exist no vaccines for most of these mosquito borne diseases (with the exception of yellow fever), and there aren’t many treatment options until the virus runs its course.  But the sad part is that there aren’t many rapid, low cost diagnostic tools and there is often misclassification, while the virus continues to spread, when there is an epidemic.   Diagnostic tests are needed that are rapid, sensitive, specific, easy to use, portable, random access, cost effective, adaptable, multiplexed and can test many things, and are broad based so can test for etiologies that one may not necessarily be looking for.   Routinely used Elisa assays do not get real time info and have limited sensitivity and lack specificity.  DNA based panviral microarray or virochips are good for broad based diagnosis but are very expensive and analysis is labor intensive. Loopmediated iso-thermal amplification or LAMP is single tube assay for nucleic acid detection and is simple, cheap, and fast but is not broad based and one should be certain what one is looking for.  Wicking assays are point of care, rapid, can be easily adapted, are filed deployable, but are difficult to multiplex and not broad based.  Microfluidic devices are Point of Care tests that are rapid, flexible, portable, can have many different channels and very likely are the wave of the future.  In the end, better diagnosis will save children, said LaBeaud.  Besides, no longer can these diseases of the developing world be ignored, as they easily travel and there is always a fear of major worldwide outbreaks that can infect people and animals globally.

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