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Billionaire backs new program for a pioneering Alz...

German billionaire Dietmar Hopp is adding to his multimillion-dollar wager on AC Immune, the Swiss biotech that is playing a key role in some high-profile Alzheimer’s programs. Hopp has been the primary investor behind the company, and today he joined in a $22 million D round designed to fund a new therapeutic vaccine program aimed at the memory-wasting disease. AC Immune isn’t built like most biotechs. CEO Andrea...

Cancer Research UK will repurpose an AstraZeneca a...

Cancer Research UK has struck a deal with AstraZeneca ($AZN) to repurpose an experimental therapy originally developed by the drug giant for asthma and study its ability to fight kidney cancer. Under the agreement, the nonprofit’s drug development office will carry out preclinical testing and early clinical trials of the compound, AZD2098. Cancer Research UK plans to begin enrolling up to 40 patients in an early phase...

Alcohol-addicted rats treated with optogenetics st...

Using an emerging technique called optogenetics, which uses light to stimulate neurons, researchers at the University at Buffalo have found a way to alter alcohol drinking in rodents that mimics human binge drinking behavior. The investigators say the findings could help scientists develop new treatments for alcoholism, other addictions and neurological and mental illnesses. First, researchers trained rats to drink alcohol in...

Illumina’s New Sequencers

The genetics world was rocked by a surprise announcement from its most prominent company: Illumina is secretly owned by Apple. At least, that would explain the company’s obvious joy at making their previous products look obsolete, and the way their competitors have to constantly protest that, yes, Illumina’s latest gadget is obviously very cool, but wouldn’t you like to compare prices and specifications? (This theory...

NIH publishes first Alzheimer’s genomics dat...

The National Institutes of Health said Monday it has made available for researchers the first batch of genome sequence data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP). Established in February 2012 by a Presidential Initiative, the ADSP is a national research project with the aim of finding ways to prevent or effectively treat the memory-stealing disease. Using large-scale genome sequencing, the National...

Mechanical forces at work in living cells and tiss...

Don Ingber, of Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, is a mechanobiologist – a member of the small but growing community of scientists who look at biological systems through the lens of physics. Mechanobiologists hope to add to our understanding of physiology, embryology, and disease ontogeny by observing the mechanical forces at work in living cells and tissues. Ingber sees this work...

Bill would fast-track promising antibiotics for FD...

The antibiotics arena hasn’t proved lucrative enough for Big Pharma, leading to a mass exodus from the field in recent years. But pharma companies may have a reason to get back in the antibiotics game. A group of bipartisan members in the House of Representatives introduced a bill late Thursday that aims to combat the growing threat of so-called “superbugs” by essentially providing a fast-track route to FDA...

Human, animal or plant mixed in new R&D recip...

Can a crop science team of ag-bio investigators provide some real insights that could help advance new drugs for humans and animals? Bayer believes so, and one of its top researchers says you can expect to see the first tangible fruits of its hybrid R&D effort in the next few years. Wolfgang Plischke, the outgoing tech/innovation chief at Bayer, told Reuters that “we expect it to be reflected in our pipeline in the...

Major Update to the Human Reference Genome

The Genome Reference Consortium (GRC), the research collaborative responsible for maintaining a comprehensive reference genome for humans, mice, and zebrafish, has released its first complete update to the human reference genome in nearly half a decade. Reference genomes are crucial to genomic research, providing a baseline for assembling genetic fragments into a full picture of the genome, and comparing rare variants against...

U.S. domination of global biomedical R&D slip...

Big Pharma’s decision to shift more of its R&D resources to Asia over the past few years has helped spur a subtle but significant erosion of the U.S.’s traditional dominance in the field. New research from the University of Michigan Health System shows that the U.S. share of the global biomedical R&D business declined to 45%–from 51%–between 2007 and 2012. And while Europe stayed steady at 29%,...
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