Massachusetts biotech companies thrive during pandemic, report finds

The Massachusetts biotechnology industry appears to be thriving, despite a national stock slump and the ongoing COVID pandemic.

A report from the industry group MassBio found more than 106,000 people worked at drug companies and life science research institutions in 2021 — 13% more than the previous year. The industry continued to add jobs in research, development and manufacturing, even as some companies have laid off workers. read more


China’s Jemincare nabs $650M biobucks pact with Roche’s Genentech for prostate cancer hopeful

After penning a deal with Orion back in May, Jemincare is back at the licensing deal table, inking a development and sales deal with Roche’s Genentech unit that is on the lookout for a new prostate cancer drug after the recent flop of its phase 3 asset ipatasertib.

The pact, worth $60 million with an additional $590 million in biobucks also thrown into the mix, sees Genentech buy Jemincare’s androgen receptor degrader JMKX002992. read more


Publicly traded biotech company Absci lays off employees, citing ‘macro-economic conditions’

Vancouver, Wash.-based drug design and development company Absci laid off employees Tuesday, a little more than a year after going public.

“The macro-economic conditions of the last few months prompted us to engage in a comprehensive business analysis to focus the company on those activities that will create the greatest value,” said CEO and founder Sean McClain in a blog post. read more

Johnson & Johnson

J&J partner Legend Biotech looks to raise $350M amid Carvykti rollout, global expansion

Legend Biotech, Johnson & Johnson’s partner on closely watched CAR-T therapy Carvykti, is looking for additional funding as the drug launches and the Chinese biotech’s global expansion kicks into gear.

The biotech is looking to raise $350 million from selling over 8 million American Depositary Shares at a public offering price of $43 each. The deal would also have a 30-day option for underwriters to buy an additional 1.22 million shares, according to a recent company statement. read more


Boston biotech Verve tests ‘CRISPR 2.0′ in a patient for the first time

Scientists are rewriting the code of life with a new technology that promises to cure inherited diseases by precisely correcting genetic typos. Known as base editing, the technology empowers researchers to pick a single letter amongst the three billion that compose the human genome, erase it, and write a new letter in its place.

Base editing is an updated version of the gene editing tool CRISPR, which has revolutionized life sciences research and is making strides in treating genetic blood and liver diseases. But some scientists think base editing, sometimes billed as CRISPR 2.0, could be safer and more precise than the original. And this summer, the sequel technology is being used in patients for the first time. read more

roe vs wade

‘We strongly dissent’: Women biotech execs pen letter to colleagues and politicians in Roe v. Wade aftermath

In the days following the US Supreme Court’s rollback of federal abortion rights, more than  100 women biotech executives came together in an open letter to condemn the ruling and tell their fellow drug development leaders that they “will not stand by silently.”

Addressed to industry, friends, legislators and elected officials, the biotech executives said they were joining “the resounding millions in chorus” by showing their “profound dismay and disappointment” at the decision handed down by SCOTUS last week, a reversal of Roe v. Wade that had been anticipated for weeks following a court leak. read more


Acticor Biotech gets patent for cardiovascular emergency treatment product

French company Acticor Biotech has announced the European Patent Office (EPO) has granted a new patent that provides protection for the use of Acticor’s product, glenzocimab in thrombotic diseases in Europe until 2036.

The grant in Europe complements the ones already obtained in November 2020 in the U.S. and in November 2021 in Singapore, both of which also protect glenzocimab until 2036ell. The patent is also under examination in other countries such as Japan.

To date, three patent families, including four granted patents and 33 pending patent applications, protect glenzocimab and its therapeutic use. read more

stem cells

Research Shows Stem Cells Might Become a Game Changer for Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable neurodegenerative disease that impacts the brain and spinal cord, has been an enigma for researchers for years. Despite first being identified in the late 1800s, scientists are still scratching their heads about what causes the disease.

The Tisch Multiple Sclerosis Research Center of New York has been working toward finding the cause and a cure for MS since it first launched in 2006. The Center’s director and chief research scientist, Dr. Saud Sadiq, M.D., has been working toward finding the cause of the disease for over two decades. read more

Human Embryo

Controversial New Guidelines Would Allow Experiments On More Mature Human Embryos

For decades, scientists have been prohibited from keeping human embryos alive in their labs for more than 14 days. The prohibition was aimed at avoiding a thicket of ethical issues that would be raised by doing experiments on living human embryos as they continue to develop. But on Wednesday, an influential scientific society recommended scrapping that blanket taboo, known as the “14-day rule.”

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Biotech 3

Biotech Emerges as ‘Superhero’ of Global Pandemic

The global coronavirus pandemic is spurring a boom in health care investments, as companies large and small try to combat the infectious disease. Biotechs, in particular, have seen a boom in interest, as investors look to bet on what could be the next Moderna (MRNA).

Kedar Karkare, a health-care analyst at CB Insights, said 2020 was a record year for the sector.

“We had almost $42 billion invested into biopharmaceutical companies … across 1,851 deals,” Karkare said. That’s a 46% increase over 2019, but the number of deals was only 4% more than in 2019, indicating that more capital was spent making these deals, Karkare said.


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