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‘Business of science’ digest—November 2020

Heartbreak, sacrifice, genetics and venture philanthropy

At the funeral of one of her three children with cystic fibrosis, the bereaved mother approached an executive at Vertex Pharmaceutical. “Can you guys hurry up?” she begged him. Ivacaftor, the firm's first drug to treat the condition, was approved in 2012. Heidi Ledford reviews Bijal P. Trivedi's book Breath from Salt which traces the history of cystic fibrosis research. Ledford also reflects on other genetic disorders that have not received the same attention.


Eradicating polio

The World Health Organization is in the final stages of considering whether or not to approve ‘emergency-use listing’ of an unlicensed vaccine to protect against circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV), cases of which are rising in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Yemen, and 19 African countries. If the move goes ahead, it will be the WHO’s first emergency listing vaccine approval.


CRISPR pioneers win Nobel prize

Emmanuelle Charpentier, of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, and Jennifer Doudna, of UC Berkeley, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their development of the CRISPR gene-editing technology. Their work helped show how the CRISPR–Cas genetic scissors, evolved by bacteria to cut up invading bacteriophage, could be repurposed for both basic research and therapeutic applications.

Nature Reviews Drug Discovery

Antibody–drug conjugates inspire large pharma investments

Gilead and Merck & Co. independently made big investments in antibody–drug conjugate (ADC) candidates in September, highlighting continued enthusiasm for ADC’s with the right profiles.

Nature Reviews Drug Discovery

Good times for biotech

Nature Biotechnology’s latest review of financial activity finds biotech stock indices were outpaced by NASDAQ for much of the third quarter of 2020, but all of the exchanges took a tumble in September. Over the year, however, the public markets have been kind to biotechs, with twice the number of IPOs and amount raised compared to this time last year.

Nature Biotechnology

Big pharma buys into exosomes for drug delivery

Several pharmaceutical companies are placing big bets on exosomes and other extracellular vesicles as a means to deliver nucleic acid therapeutics.

Nature Biotechnology

Spinoff Prize: still chance to enter

If you want to see your science spinoff get the attention it deserves but you’re currently short of time, fear not. Applications for Nature Research’s Spinoff Prize have been extended to 14th December 2020. The prize, established in partnership with Merck and now in its second year, showcases and celebrates global excellence in the commercialisation of research. Find out more here.


Calling all young European biomedical researchers

The Eppendorf Young Investigator Award is granted annually to European researchers not older than 35 years and acknowledges outstanding contributions to biomedical research in Europe based on methods of molecular biology, including novel analytical concepts. The winner is selected by an independent expert committee. Applications are open until 16th January 2021. Apply now.



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