Blue Steens in February 2020

Catch up on Blue Steens articles and venture further

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.

Read >>

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



  • 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.

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In this newsletter I share personal views and observations only. For more information and the privacy policy visit Blue Steens.