What is the microbiome and why is it important to your health?
(Originally published October 17, 2018)
At the 2018 “Plug and Play” Fall Summit, Alicia Scheffer-Wong, Founder and CEO of Floragraph told the audience about their cost effective and innovative device that can analyze your microbiome in just four hours.
Watch the video
Apple Inspired Marketing for Cannabis Industry
Marijuana startups are mimicking tech companies’ style of marketing and branding.
Click the image (courtesy Business Insider) for the entire story.
Goal: Share genetic data without risk of hacking or infringement of patients’ privacy.
Tap the image for the full story, published on “coindesk” August, 2018.
Where are the Life Science Hotbeds?
BioSpace.com is a terrific resource and their Hotbed Campaigns have highlighted thriving clusters of life science industry, helping to attract investment, talent and additional resources to specific geographic areas. Tap the map to investigate the hotbed regions in detail.
This video below talks about 2018 Life Science hotbeds, published by BioSpace 12/29/17.
Coke wants in as a ‘craft’ soda.
Coke or Pepsi? The battle never ends and now Coke wants to capitalize on the popularity of ‘craft’ sodas.
Tap the image for the whole article.
BeyondMeat is becoming popular in the US for its plant-based burger, while Germany’s PlantLX seeks to use plants to make non-dairy cheese. Tap this infographic of EU plant-based biotech firms to access the full article, published on LABIOTECH.eu
Tap on the image above to review the complete 2/13/18 article, published on the UC Santa Cruz News Center web page.
California researchers have discovered how a type of killer T cell develops, opening a door to improved vaccines for diseases such as hep C and HIV. Watch this video to see a graphic presentation on how Hep C infects the liver.
‘MAD’ News About Bay Area’s Nektar Therapeutics
The company’s stock has more than tripled in value since early November, largely based on results for NKTR-214; however, Brad Loncar, founder of Loncar Investments and the Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy Index, urges caution.
Tap the graphic for the whole story, courtesy of “BioSpace”.
Healthcare Stocks Mixed Following Senate’s Vote to Strike Down ‘Skinny’ Healthcare RepealRepublican’s ‘skinny’ bill – fail! How do biotech stocks react? Tap the gold coins for full article and video on “The Street”.
Apps About Agriculture
Source over 700 apps about crops, livestock, weather and more. Tap Wall-E to open the portal.
Print a new you – – 3D Printed Microfiber Strips Create “Second Skin”
Touch the images above to view the article and visit the web site.
According to Wikipedia, 3D printing, a/k/a additive manufacturing (AM), refers to various processes used to synthesize a three-dimensional object. In 3D printing, successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object. These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source.
Strawberries are #1 – but at what?
If you wonder which produce bears the highest concentration of pesticides – here is the “Dirty Dozen” list as it currently stands:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Cherry tomatoes
To arrive at this list, more than 35,200 samples of fruits and vegetables were taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.
Article by CBS News April 12, 2016, 3:48 PM
Is Political Posturing Hurting Biotech Stocks?
When Turing Pharmaceuticals’ bad boy CEO Martin Shkreli boasted of jacking up prices on a 62-year-old drug by 5,000% last September, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s shout out was “price gouging … outrageous”.
Also damaging was Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s recently announced new rules to further rein in” tax inversions, in which U.S.-based companies reincorporate overseas after acquiring foreign firms.
Cancer killers – hoorah!
The following excerpts are taken from the “Cancer Research UK Cancer Institute” article published on their web site on 16 February 2016. (Image – healthy human t-cell)
Researchers from Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have described how they’d taken specialized immune cells from patients with certain blood cancers and re-engineered the cells in the lab to attack and kill cancer cells when injected back into the patient’s body.
Here is a brief video on the subject published by Cambridge about a year ago.
Painless blood tests – what’s the fuss?
Theranos made cancer blood testing controversial and now Seventh Sense Biosystems in Boston MA is trying to make it both painless and profitable. That may prove challenging.
During the 20 years it took to engineer this cell, JCVI researchers paired away nearly all genes that weren’t essential to life. They say that what has been created may eventually serve as a basic framework for different sorts of cellular factories.
In 2001, Craig Venter made headlines for sequencing the human genome. In 2003, he started mapping the ocean’s biodiversity. And now he’s created the first synthetic lifeforms — microorganisms that can produce alternative fuels.
Watch “Craig Venter: A voyage of DNA, genes and the sea
Visit the J. Craig Ventor Research Institute web site
There is a war going on inside your cheese.
The first FDA-approved drug derived from cannabis.
GW Pharma stock has been climbing and the drug behind it all is Epidiolex, which is designed to treat a rare type of child epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. This new drug reduces children’s seizure frequency by almost 40% over 14 weeks of treatment, a statistically significant finding.
Epidiolex does not contain the psychoactive component of cannabis — tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), primarily found in “sativa” (above photo left). The drug is instead made of cannabidiol (CBD), from the “indica” strain (above photo right) and which does not cause a high but does have pain and inflammation-management capabilities. Go to Market Watch for the entire story.
Touch the image below for a CNBC video on GW Pharma.
The cannabis information site “Leafly” has produced this brief video explaining some of the important differences between indica, sativa and hybrid strains.
Why do so many people choose unhealthy foods?
CBS News hosted by Charlie Rose ran a story this morning about how and why so many Americans choose to eat foods that are not very good for us. Some examples given are “mass produced soft drinks, sweet or savory packaged snacks, packaged baked goods, chicken or fish nuggets, other reconstituted meat products and instant noodles and soups.”
Foods high in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium have been found to contribute to a wide range of health problems including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even increased risk of certain cancers.
Watch the broadcast and access the content by clicking on this image.
Lab of the Future Today
A terrific article published last August online at talked about advances being made using VR (virtual reality) and RTV (real time visualization) in ways that could greatly improve the speed, accuracy, efficiency and productivity of work done in a laboratory.
Unless you are already all over this topic, I would highly recommend spending a few minutes to review this brief and very well prepared story. You will learn a bit more about companies on the forefront of this technology: device manufacturers like Vuzix (see photo-glasses) and software firms like iTiZZiMo.
Access the entire story – click on the featured image at the top of this page.
The author (whose name I could not find for reference) also took a brief video, which you can access at the bottom of that page.
Heard on the Red Carpet: “What Clinical Trial is she wearing?”
Apple redefined the MP3 music player, the smart phone and computer tablet industries and it will just as surely use their immense technology, marketing and distribution power to materially impact the entire healthcare landscape as we know it today.
Look at Wearables: The word itself is so new my spellchecker still doesn’t recognize it and yet the term ‘wearable electronics’ is quickly becoming part of the consumer’s vocabulary. Market growth is expected to expand from $22.7 billion in 2015 to $173.3 billion by 2020 (Source: ResearchAndMarkets)
A recent article by Silicon Valley – based CRO* “Clinovo” mentions how skeptics of these digital diagnostic devices suggest they only provide very basic monitoring and don’t significantly contribute to patient treatment.
Enter Research Kit, with which iPhone and Apple watch owners will be able to download clinical apps that allow their data to be collected and anonymized. In partnership with IBM, Apple devices will collect huge amounts of clinical data for different populations and diseases and store them in the IBM’s Watson Healthcare cloud. (See movie below)
Grab your coffee and climb into my way-back machine. We’re headed to June of last year when Amanda Diaz and her team of ‘experts’ showed us why there was a “remarkable similarity between Apple and Biotech (sector)”.
This comparison, while a bit of a stretch, could be made (see charts below). but the big picture was that entire NASDAQ was being supported by only about 10 companies. These are the same geniuses who missed the crash of 2007-2008, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. So, blink.
(Click on the image below or the CNBC logo to watch the show).
The above show aired in June 2015. Here are the NASDAQ charts for both Apple and IBB (Biotech ETF) going back a year. Mentioned: Gilead at $112 closed last Friday at $88.10.
*Reference George Carlin’s “Hippy Dippy” Weatherman character.
Also – Politics – Watch the video – FMHR Experts talk biotech on Yahoo Finance . The evening before Super Tuesday the FMHR experts discuss biotech and what a Clinton presidency would mean for the sector.
Pancreatic Cancer Breakthrough Hailed
Researchers in the U.K. have made what is described as a “breakthrough reclassification” of pancreatic cancer, which offers new opportunities to treat the often-fatal disease.The researchers’ paper was published in the journal Nature, and named the subtypes as:
- Pancreatic Progenitor
- Aberrantly Differentiated Endocrine eXocrine, or ADEX.
Currently, the prognosis for someone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is one of the worst for the group of diseases.
In its release the University of Glasgow said that researchers hoped their findings would “help to identify the correct targeted treatment for each individual subtype of the disease.” The study used data from the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative and the Queensland Centre of Medical Genomics. Click the Glasgow logo for full article.
Verily is moving from Mountain View
Google has announced that its life sciences division is moving from Mountain View to a new location in South San Francisco.
This relocation story began around a year ago, right about the time Amgen announced it would be laying off 20% of its personnel worldwide as part of an effort to save $1.5 billion by 2018.
So, in spite of great success in Phase III trials of blood cancer drug Kyprolis, Amgen bowed to investors and 800 Onyx Pharma people lost their jobs. Now Google’s Verily is leasing the 400,000 square foot campus.
In 1985, Elizabeth Taylor joined with Dr. Mathilde Krim and a small group of physicians and scientists to form the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). As amfAR’s Founding National Chairman, she became the new organization’s principal spokesperson and titular head. As a great star and beloved public figure, she attracted enormous media attention. As a woman and a mother, her voice touched millions of hearts and minds. Indeed, for many Americans, it was Elizabeth Taylor who brought the issue of HIV/AIDS into the mainstream. (courtesy amfAR)
The amFAR Institute for HIV Cure Research is part of an overall $100 million effort by the foundation to find a potential cure for the immune system-suppressing virus that since 1981 has led to the deaths of 40 million people worldwide.
amfAR has created the amfAR Research Consortium on HIV Eradication (ARCHE). This grant program supports collaborative teams of biomedical researchers exploring strategies for eradicating HIV infection.
*HIV – human immunodeficiency virus / HCV – hepatitis C virus / HBV – hepatitis B virus
Next,, we go to the UK’s “Golden Triangle” – Oxford, Cambridge and London – to discover more about the research, trials, funding and partnerships that are driving cell and gene therapy.
CBS News ran some investigative journalism Wednesday evening.
BIO Conference Closes on Record Breaking Partnering Numbers
Stocks – Careful Buying Beat Down Biotechs
To watch the video, click on this “money” graphic.
80 Years on, Google’s Search for Shangri-La
The “Lost Horizon” original production was actually over 4 hours long. While previewing in small theaters around the Midwest, producers observed an alarming number of audience members leaving during intermission, even though everyone who stuck around loved the 2nd half more than the first.
Legend has it that Director Frank Capra, upon witnessing this for himself, returned to Los Angeles and in what is one of the strangest acts of total commitment in Hollywood history, tossed the first half original reels and all existing copies into a furnace on the Columbia Pictures lot.
Similar albeit not as dramatic demonstrations of strong commitment are occurring now. Almost 80 years after the release of “Lost Horizon”, Google seems to have begun a new search for the movie’s fabled city of eternal youth – not in mountainous snow-covered lands somewhere in an oriental wilderness, but rather in a world bridging science and technology.
In August of 2015 Google announced it planned to launch a Life Sciences division, which in December it named “Verily“. Almost immediately, some of the leading medical and scientific researchers in the country began moving to join Google’s efforts focusing on mental health and the aging process.
Another quiet curiosity is “Calico“, which has managed to remain fairly ‘under the radar’ while still attracting a tremendous team of scientists from medicine, drug development, molecular biology, and genetics.
For a little more background on the ‘why’s’ and ‘wherefores’ of Google healthcare innovation efforts, watch this Ted2014 interview of Larry Page.
Paradigm Shift Ahead – TedX
TedX presenters must be are able to tell their stories in 18 minutes or less. See if you don’t agree these 3 made the most of their time. Coincidentally, they all hail from MIT.
Rober Langer thinks that biomaterials may change the way we live. He is the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT.
Named “Hero” by Time magazine in 2007 for her research on climate change, Angela Belcher here offers her thoughts about new sources of materials for energy and electronics. She is the W. M. Keck Professor of Energy, Materials Science & Engineering, and Biological Engineering at MIT.
The third talk is about New Frontiers in Molecular Engineering ala Big Nano Technology and is delivered by Andreas Mershin at TEDxAthens.
Life in the center lane
Biotech Hotbeds in and around our nation’s capital.
It turns out the BioCapitalTM Hotbed, according to BioSpace, is located in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. It works as a community to highlight organizations that comprise the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device industries.
These maps are printed on thousands of promotional pieces and distributed at major life science events and career fairs. Download a larger PDF version of the map shown here.
Wearable Devices: How much is too much?
I absorb a wide variety of podcasts and live streams, cherry picking my news and entertainment. One meme* that has been bouncing around the web might sound a bit paranoid, but when you consider the source(s), it might make you stop and think for a minute.
It begins with how these fitness and biofeedback devices can store and later offload your (sometimes very) personal information. Of course, we all know this, in fact that feature is part of what makes these things so cool, but can you see where this might go?
Some are predicting a day will come when an employer can direct you to wear a device to track, let’s say, your smoking, exercise or eating habits. You are then told that any refusal to comply will be cause for immediate dismissal, or as ‘The Donald’ might famously say: “You’re Fired”.
With all those sensors and powerful processors to support what the developers are coming up with (see my article about Google and Apple becoming the new healthcare innovators) this Forbes article from 2014 might have only hinted at what we might stand to lose regarding our privacy and freedom of choice.
Wearable Tech Is Plugging Into Health Insurance – Forbes, 6/19/14
*A meme (/ˈmiːm/ meem) is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture” (Wikipedia)
Hillary Clinton went on the warpath again this week disparaging high drug prices in a Tweet. Here is some news coverage of the stir she’s causing.
EU media reporting seems to say that INDs (Innovative New Drugs) will continue to be welcomed on both continents and while some may be a bit pricey early on, we all kind of ‘get it’. What’s been causing all the furor is the outrageous behavior of firms like Turing and its reviled CEO, Martin Shkreli, who one might say has become the poster boy for greed.
It started with Daraprim, a drug not known to many except those who really have come to rely on it over the years. It is the only medication for treating toxoplasmosis, an infection contracted from cat parasites that can cause birth defects. It is also used as a co-treatment for HIV infections, some cancers and malaria.
Turing’s CEO (Shkreli) raised the pill’s price by 5000 percent (!!!) – from $13.50 to $750 per pill. His only regret, he says, was not raising the price more. (And all this time I thought Bernie Madoff was the ultimate sociopath.)
Biotech Firms Are Growing in North Carolina
Several years ago CB* consultants helped to put the finishing touches on a manuscript by a Triangle Park researcher who claimed to have observed and documented photosynthesis in the absence of sunlight.
That project and subsequent visits to North Carolina showed me the breadth of research occurring there and in spite of the beating biotech stocks may be taking right now, the fact remains that the most exciting breakthroughs will in all likelihood continue to come from this industry sector.
BioSpace.com ran an article last July titled “10 Biotech Firms Rapidly Expanding in North Carolina” and in it they talked about the over 600 life sciences companies generating over $73 billion in productivity. You can read the entire article here.
*CB is Creative Biotech
Gene Editing Just Got a Little Bit Easier
One of the LinkedIn groups I belong to is “myBio Community”* and today they began a discussion about CRISPR, which claims to be a “…revolutionary gene editing toolbox that is allowing scientists to find and replace DNA in any organism and gain insight into how to treat diseases in new ways.”
Here is an entertaining little video that helps explain gene editing to people like me (and you?).
On Wednesday this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reissued its draft guidance for industry entitled, “Target Animal Safety Data Presentation and Statistical Analysis,” which was originally issued March 30, 2015. Read the entire article here on the FDA web site.
Belgian scientists claim to have produced the building blocks of gasoline from sawdust.
Reported by Jim Drury on Reuter’s at 4:57 a.m. EST, January 21, 2016
Top Ten Wearables in 2015 – Before Apple Watch, that is.
This “top ten” list was made only about a year ago, but in this world where Moore’s Law* rules, 2015 is another era.
These wearables provide useful and accurate data which is stored or shared with the user’s healthcare providers -some even tell you the time.
We can question the wisdom and timing of this review, given that the entire known world was still anticipating the release of the Apple Watch. My guess is that some people, like myself, just can’t wait to tell everybody what they think.
This video was posted on YouTube in February of 2015
Biotech Hotbed Regions in North America
I used to live in the Kansas City area and in my role as technical writing project designer I worked with academic, public and private research firms all across the Midwest biotech corridor.
Then a few years ago I was shaken out of my provencial stupor when I came across a map which displayed the biotech hotbeds flourishing in the Bay area and in fact all over North America. Interactive versions of these and other ‘hotbed’ maps can be accessed on the web site: “BioSpace“. Check it out!
After a 5 year ‘Bull’ are Biotech Stocks Rolling Over?
Just this past September this article posted on a popular web site. Enjoying a 5 year bull market, biotech stocks and jobs were looking pretty good.
But with the S&P 500 closing below 1900 yesterday and many expecting it to keep dropping, the question has two parts: (A) Is the market going to take biotech stocks down with it, or (B) is the biotech sector headed south under its own steam?
Nate Pile, author of the highly regarded newsletter “Nate’s Notes” appeared on the “Market Wrap” broadcast yesterday to answer the question: Is This the Bottom for Biotech? You can visit the web site for podcasts of earlier shows or just stream the audio portion here. Note: If you prefer not to listen to the entire show, Nate appears at the 25 minute ‘mark’.
Digital Sociology, Big Data and the Future of Healthcare
“Healthcare produces a significant amount of data – often it seems too much data with little actionable intelligence derived for critical strategies. It is time to put this mountain of information to good use. Get a better understanding of your market, competition, customers, suppliers and even employees through our innovative merging of data science, sociology, computational linguistics and artificial intelligence.” Richard Neal, CIO – mPathDiscovery.
An article titled “Wearable Tech’s Massive Impact on Fitness and Its Evolution into Healthcare” on the “Wearable Tech World” web site is very foretelling and on that same page is a link to a downloadable audio file titled “Wearable Success Rides on Actionable Intelligence”. The recording is of an interview with Lux Capital’s Adam Goulburn. In it he discusses the traits sought by investors as they consider wearable startups, i.e., how well their software turns collected data into actionable intelligence. For audio piece scroll down page – right side.
Google X Life Sciences is partnering with Novartis to develop a smart lens aimed at detecting changes in glucose levels among diabetes patients – a challenging goal and that’s probably just the beginning from CEO Larry Page. Read the entire Google X Life Sciences article in ars technica.
Apple Watch offers biofeedback and more with apps like “CafeWell Concierge”, a creation powered by Watson and its super language capabilities. Learn about Apple Watch and “CafeWell Concierge” in Forbes.
In July of last year, CBS News published an article online titled “Who’s most likely to get addicted to painkillers?” which spoke about a study in which patients prescribed a short course of narcotic painkillers might be most prone to long-term abuse. You can read the whole article – tap here.
More recently the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued new ‘voluntary’ guidelines in an effort to try to lessen the growth in numbers of addictions occurring nationally. Tap the image of the CBS news center to watch the broadcast video.
Former “West Wing” co-star Allison Janney pleasantly surprised everybody when she took the podium in jest at a fairly recent White House briefing. She was actually on site to highlight the Obama administration’s new initiatives on the nation’s growing opioid epidemic. Tap her image to watch her joke on the press core.
Oxycodone and hydrocodone are powerful narcotic painkillers that interfere with your central nervous system’s pain signals, preventing the nerves in your body from sending pain signals to your brain. The differences between the two are primarily in the side effects they cause. For a side X side comparison tap on the package images.