This week I was fascinated (but not surprised) to learn an interesting snippet from an article in Forbes on Hal Barron and GSK by Matthew Herper. Herper wrote:
“David Schenkein, the chief executive of Agios Pharmaceuticals, worked for Barron at Genentech. He says he’s never worked with anyone who read more of the original scientific literature on a topic before making a decision.”
This should be a given yet… not everyone does that. Dr Scheinkein (whom we interviewed here) is no slouch either, so that’s quite a compliment. By the way, for an alternative take on the R&D update, check out John Carroll’s article on Endpoints.
Revvin’ up our understanding of the immune system
It is, however, good to see some CMOs and CSOs reading extensively in the literature themselves rather than relying on summaries from project teams, although I highly recommend they should because it’s a great way to keep the brain revved up with new developments and also understand the field more intimately.
This is also one reason why we have regular Journal Club posts on BSB – to highlight important new developments that are worthy of attention and explain why they matter.
It is encouraging that quite a few of our subscribers are c-suite execs, including CEOs, CMOs, and CSOs who often send in links to papers they are curious for an independent perspective on.
It’s time for the latest look at some key research that may have practical impacts in numerous ways…
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Preserved section of the Berlin Wall
I have a personal interest in Alzheimers Disease, my mother Audrey died from it three years ago back in 2014.
Since then, I’ve watched with fascination and excitement the progress made in using the body’s own immune system against cancer. There’s still a long way to go, but a revolution in treating cancer is underway, as we’ve been documenting on this blog and the Novel Targets Podcast.
In recent years in the United States we’ve also seen grand initiatives targeting cancer such as Vice President Biden’s Moonshot, as well as large philanthropic support e.g. the creation of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.
Sadly, we’ve not seen the same level of interest in targeting dementia or funding research into new treatments for Alzheimers disease.
In the United States, the media doesn’t talk much about Alzheimers (compared to cancer), unlike for example, in the United Kingdom where any promising data is heralded with headlines that frequently deliver “hype over hope.”
Alzheimers is an insidious disease that removes the ability of the person to advocate and care for themselves, instead placing the burden on families and caregivers, often for extended periods of time. Ultimately many people end up in supported living or nursing homes.
As we debate healthcare insurance in the United States, who is going to pay for the cost of dementia care as the population grows older? Caring for dementia is arguably the greatest public health challenge that the western world faces.
Which is why I was excited to talk with a researcher who is thinking outside of the box and leading the way in how we could use our immune system against Alzheimers.
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Today we take a short break from our AACR conference coverage and look at some creative new research that has its roots in oncology, i.e. antibody drug conjugates (ADCs), while being adapted and adopted for use in microbiology and infectious diseases. Here at BSB, we have always been attracted to innovative science and technology and this latest project certainly fits that bill.
This is not such a stretch as many may think, after all, advanced cancer patients or those in an ICU tend to be prone to infectious complications, which can, unfortunately, be lethal.
While this work is currently ongoing in the preclinical setting, it could be something we hear a lot more about in the near future as clinical development rolls out and there is a dramatic impact for patients.
Curious as to what all the fuss is about?
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