Sanaria's preventive vaccine for malaria, Sanaria PfSPZ Vaccine, has received fast-track designation from the FDA. The drug is in clinical trials in Europe, Africa and the US in patients at least 6 months old, and is in a late-stage study in Equatorial Guinea.
Allergan agreed to purchase Akarna Therapeutics for $50 million upfront, adding Akarna's lead development compound, AKN-083, for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, to its portfolio. Under the terms of the deal, Allergan will pay undisclosed regulatory, clinical and commercial milestone fees related to AKN-083.
Becton Dickinson has committed to investing $100 million in its Holdrege, Neb., factory, which manufactures syringes for insulin. The company will upgrade the facility to boost production capacity, said company spokesman Troy Kirkpatrick.
The BD Veritor Plus System, a wireless diagnostic device that detects influenza A and B, group A strep and respiratory syncytial virus in minutes, has been launched by Becton Dickinson. The device allows for wireless data transmission to laboratory information or EMR systems and ensures accurate traceability through documentation of user ID, test kit lot number and specimen ID.
Bioengineer Rebecca Richards-Kortum is one of 23 winners of a $625,000 "genius grant" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Microbiologist Dianne Newman and geobiologist Victoria Orphan are also among the prize winners.
Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline's head of consumer health care, has been promoted to CEO. Walmsley, who is replacing Andrew Witty, will need to use her skills as a marketing executive to bring some of the consumer side's efficiency to the pharmaceutical operations, writes Bloomberg columnist Chris Hughes.
The Rare Pediatric Disease Priority Review Voucher Program, an incentive program for drug development under the Orphan Drug Act, is due to expire Sept. 30, and drugmakers could lose interest in developing new treatments for rare pediatric diseases if the government does not reauthorize the program, writes Brett Kopelan of the Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association of America. Kopelan writes that the program has spurred development of treatments for rare pediatric diseases in recent years, and Congress must reauthorize it before its recess.
The Chinese government has invested in a major biotechnology research program for the development of drought-resistant corn and wheat, disease-resistant rice and soybeans that produce more oil, as well as in CRISPR gene-editing technology to create disease-resistant wheat and tomatoes, and leaner pork. "Agricultural biotechnology is one of the few technologies in which China is on an equal footing with the world's best," said Huazhong Agricultural University researcher Yan Jianbing.
A DNA-based vaccine candidate for the Zika virus has entered human safety trials after protecting monkeys from the virus in an animal study by scientists with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The animal study's results were reported in the journal Science.
Bluebird Bio's LentiGlobin BB305 gene therapy has been granted access to the European Medicines Agency's Priority Medicines, or PRIME, scheme as a treatment for transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia. The drug is in a late-stage study.
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