Roundup: Monthly Biotech Updates, August 2018

Intermittent fasting: 10/14 – Intermittent fasting refers to a cycle of eating and fasting for extended periods of time. The most common methods are daily 16-hour fasting or 24-hour fasting a few times a week. It is currently very popular in the health and fitness world and is touted to produce significant results.

Scientists at the Salk Institute have found that restricting food intake within a 10-hour window has been shown to override genetic defects in mice. These particularly take aim at genetic traits that make one prone to obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and elevated blood cholesterol. (Read more at Cell Biology)

Big News

Image credit – Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Dr. Burnell is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who has received the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, which has a $3 million cash prize attached to it. As a postgraduate student at Cambridge University, 44 years ago, she discovered pulsars. Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars that emit radiation. This observation is considered one of the greatest astronomical discovery of the 20th century. Her contribution to the discovery was overlooked at the time and her supervisor, Anthony Hewish, won a Nobel prize in 1974 for this discovery. (Read more at NPR)


Less food, more champagne – This summer of 2018 has been one of the hottest summer on the record in Europe. But the rising global temperatures has had one positive impact. The grapes in the Champagne region have yielded grapes of better quality and quantity. (Read more at NPR)


Rice to neutralize HIV transmission – A group international researchers including one from Iowa State University have concluded research that proves that rice can help prevent the spread of HIV. These transgenic rice plants have three proteins that can stop the HIV from entering human cells. The researchers hope that using plants will provide a cost-effective means accessible to everyone. (Read more at PNAS)

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Alcohol can cause cancer, too – Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University School of Public Health wrote to the National Institute of Health (NIH) to update the information on the NIH National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to reflect the cancer risks of alcohol. The NIH has responded by changing the words to say “there is a strong scientific consensus of an association between alcohol drinking and several types of cancer.” (Read more on NIH)


What is the Pulsar?

Big Deals

Boehringer Ingelheim, a global pharmaceutical company that develops innovative therapies has acquired ViraTherapeutics for $245M.ViraTherapeutics develops immunotherapy drugs based oncolytic (cancer-destroying) viruses and was backed by EMBL Ventures, an early stage European life science venture capital firm (Read more at Business Wire)


4D Molecular Therapeutics, a California-based gene therapy company, has raised $90M in series B financing. The round was led by Viking Global Investors and the proceeds of this financing will be used to advance the company’s proprietary Therapeutic Vector Evolution platform and pipeline of next-generation AAV gene therapeutics (Read more at 4DMT’s Press Release)


KaNDY Therapeutics, a UK based clinical-stage women’s health company, has raised £25 million in series C financing round from Longitude Capital and existing investors Advent Life Sciences, Fountain Healthcare Partners, Forbion Capital Partners, and OrbiMed. The financing will enable the company to advance its non-hormonal drug candidate, NT-814, for treatment of multiple symptoms of the menopause, through phase II testing in Q4 2018 (Read more at PR Newswire)


Rubius Therapeutics, a biotech company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has announced that it will invest $155M in renovating its manufacturing facility in Smithfield over the course of next five years. The plans were shared by Rhode Island state government after it agreed to a series of tax incentives to attract a Cambridge-based company to locate its facility in Rhode Island (Read more at Rhode Island Inno)

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