This month on Blue Steens
My MSc dissertation on healthcare derivatives
In 2019, I graduated with Distinction from the roller-coaster that was my one-year full-time MSc in Finance and Investment Management at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. 🏴 Slightly out of my comfort zone, I decided to release my original MSc dissertation in which I play with a novel idea for pharmaceutical R&D financing.
I also compiled a short(ish) overview with some additional thoughts in this video:
Next month on Blue Steens
We will explore
... the complexity of drug pricing.
Beyond Blue Steens
California lab says it discovered coronavirus vaccine in 3 hours - Once the coronavirus’ DNA sequence was known, apparently it took only few hours to develop a vaccine that is supposed to enter phase I clinical testing in early summer. Whilst it is generally still a time-consuming process, the article suggests emerging competition in ‘speed vaccine development’.
Whilst some companies are chasing new vaccines, existing medicines may be useful in treating coronavirus infection. - Thai doctor says new drug combination treated coronavirus patient & China approves antiviral favilavir to treat coronavirus
Israeli invented 'CoughSync' machine to treat coronavirus in China - The ‘cough aid’ has been slow out of the starting blocks but may now prove useful in supporting the body against the infection and protect medical staff.
In addition, testing capabilities are expanding as emergency use approvals for diagnostic kits are being granted. - U.S. expands use of coronavirus diagnostic test & CoV diagnostic test approved in South Korea & Seegene introduces KFDA-approved coronavirus real-time PCR assay & Update on CE Mark Approved coronavirus test
Harvard, Guangzhou Institute Launch $115M Coronavirus Research Collaboration - US-Chinese 5-year collaboration to understand the virus’ biology and, ultimately, further diagnostics and therapy development
FDA is unable to conduct medical device plant inspections in China - The FDA has to work around the current travel advisory because routine inspections are not possible.
A globally spreading disease is not just about biology and medicine. Interesting snippet from Twitter…
On a lighter note - Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus
Lab-grown heart cells implanted into human patient for the first time - We are still unable to create functional human hearts for transplantation (as outlined in a previous blog post). However, recently Japanese scientists successfully transplanted stem cell-derived heart muscle cell sheets into a patient to help their heart regenerate. Truly from bench to bedside. Since the stem cells originated from the patient, there won’t be the usual issues of potential graft rejection that a donor heart (allograft) would cause.
Powerful antibiotic discovered using machine learning for first time - The new antibiotic, halicin, was discovered at the MIT using a trained a deep learning algorithm. The compound is an abandoned diabetes drug, now given a second chance. It has been shown to kill even resistant strains. It will be interesting to see how the drug performs in human trials. For more context on the desperate situation and economics of antibiotics R&D, check out my recent blog post.
Drug Approvals: FDA Publishes Dataset of CDER Approvals Since 1985 - Researchers now have access to a list of historic FDA approvals of new drugs and biologics. This list will be updated periodically.
A new implant for blind people jacks directly into the brain - An implant in the visual cortex that bypasses the eye and optical nerves feeds a live video stream straight into the brain. Thus, it can help blind people with nerve damages that disconnect the eye from the brain where approaches fail that essentially aim to fix the eye. Currently, the implant allows recognition of basic shapes, is still experimental and only approved for 6-months use because of long-term safety concerns.
Mindance digitalises mental health preservation in enterprises [German] - The start-up behind the mental health platform received a 7-figure investment from a group of investors. The goal is to make mental health measures a fixed part of HR activities by providing customised solutions including training and coaching. This is awesome news for the start-up from my birth home state Saxony. 🇩🇪
Technology against multi-resistant germs: Bayern Kapital re-invests in TriOptoTec [German] - The spin-out from the University Clinic Regensburg has developed a photodynamic catalyst, which is added to surface coatings. On exposure to natural or artificial light, it turns oxygen from the surrounding air into its highly reactive and highly effective anti-microbial variant. Note that this is not toxic to humans. (By the way, reactive oxygen species are also used by our own immune cells to fend off infections.) The initial target market includes hospitals and care homes.
Varian receives FDA nod for Ethos therapy - The AI-driven tumour treatment solution integrates imaging techniques and works in tandem with clinicians to improve the precision and efficiency of adaptive medical cancer care. Apparently, Ethos is so user-friendly that no intensive additional training is required.
Out and about
Impressions from local events I have attended (or wish I had) or events that are on my radar.
Scottish Life Sciences Summit in Aberdeen, 27 Feb 2020. Practically on my doorstep. Alas!
Nice wee Twitter thread there from The Times Scotland.
The Times Scotland @thetimesscotSunday Times Scotland editor @SundayTimesSco introduces the Scottish Life Sciences Summit in Aberdeen, in partnership with @Opportunity_NE1 #lifesciencessummit https://t.co/eY9yxFmmT9
ONE HealthTech Aberdeen launch, 13 Feb 2020
Aberdeen Data Meetup, 4 Feb 2020