Drug Discovery Industry Roundup with Barry Bunin — December 2022

Barry Bunin, PhD Founder & CEO Collaborative Drug Discovery

Barry Bunin, PhD
Founder & CEO
Collaborative Drug Discovery

Lecanemab: The Benefit is Real; So Too are the Risks.” Thats from coverage in The New York Times, which uses a sober, non-hyped headline of Alzheimers Drug May Benefit Some Patients, New Data Shows.” We all hope this proves to be a significant milestone on the long march toward fighting Alzheimers, but the prize has been elusive. The article noted some researchers expressing concern that lecanemab also caused some patients to experience brain swelling or brain bleeding.” A report of the findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine said that over 18 months, lecanemab resulted in moderately less decline on measures of cognition and function,” compared with patients receiving a placebo. Still, the study of nearly 1,800 patients with mild symptoms, which was funded by the companies and co-written by scientists at Eisai, concluded that longer trials are warranted to determine the efficacy and safety of lecanemab in early Alzheimers disease.” FIERCE Biotech also takes a cautious approach with its article headlined Facing a Familiar Side Effect Problem, Eisai Makes the Case for its Next Alzheimer's Drug After Patient Deaths.” The article notes Two potential treatment-related deaths have dimmed the initial glow surrounding Eisai and Biogens next Alzheimers disease therapy lecanemab.”

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Roche Shutters Most Trials of Alzheimer's Drug After Failed Trials.” Thats a headline from Reuters reporting that Swiss drugmaker Roche is closing down most clinical trials of its experimental Alzheimer's drug gantenerumab after it failed to slow advance of the mind-robbing disease in a pair of large, late-stage studies. Roche says it will stop all gantenerumab studies in early Alzheimer's disease, including extension studies of the Graduate trials and the Skyline Phase III study in patients with evidence of amyloid in the brain but no signs of cognitive decline. On a brighter note, Reuters quotes Rachelle Doody, Roche's Global Head of Neurodegeneration Drug Development as saying We remain committed to Alzheimers disease and will direct our focus to new and potentially improved approaches for new treatments."

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Hipsters in Paradise . . . Could Cannabis Fight Covid-19? Researchers at Oregon State University will present information on using natural products including hemp to treat Covid-19 at a free virtual event this week, as a follow up to their study released earlier this year that found that compounds in cannabis could prevent infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus in human cells. Forbes reports that Richard van Breemen, a researcher with Oregon States Global Hemp Innovation Center, College of Pharmacy and Linus Pauling Institute, and his team found that two cannabinoid acids commonly found in hemp varietals of cannabis, cannabigerolic acid, or CBGA, and cannabidiolic acid, also known as CBDA, can bind to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. By binding to the spike protein, the compounds can prevent the virus from entering cells and causing infection, potentially offering new avenues to prevent and treat the disease. Breeman will be presenting his findings Dec. 6. The live event is being held at the Old World Deli in Corvallis, Oregon—though you can also watch the presentation online.

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How AI Could Revolutionize Drug Discovery.” Thats the title of a brief video report (with transcript provided) recently released by McKinsey. The report asks: Human bodies are incredibly complex. It takes many years to discover even just one new medicine to successfully treat a disease. Could artificial intelligence help speed up that process?” (Spoiler Alert: McKinsey analysts are bullish.) The brief report paints a familiar picture of how machine learning may speed time to discovery by orders of magnitude, but it also provides a down-to-earth suggestion for getting started: Dont set up a project that delivers only after five years. Have a view on how you can deliver value in three months—and on what it takes in terms of analytics, data, and technology—with a relentless laser focus on value…and for the scientific process.”

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FDA Approves First Treatment to Delay Onset of Type 1 Diabetes.” Thats the CNN headline about the monoclonal antibody teplizumab, which will be marketed under the brand name Tzield, from ProventionBio and Sanofi. It is thought to work by turning down the bodys misdirected attack on its own insulin-producing cells. The idea is that protecting these cells buys people more time before they become dependent on insulin to manage their condition. CNN reports the treatment comes in a single 14-day course of infusions that each last 30 to 60 minutes, and will carry a wholesale cost of roughly $194,000 for a full course of treatment. While the drug does not cure or prevent Type 1 diabetes, it postpones its onset by an average of two years, and longer for some. This will put a premium on early screening. The New York Times writes “Teplizumab will be used to treat patients at high risk for Type 1 diabetes who have antibodies that indicate an immune attack on their pancreas and whose glucose tolerance is not normal.”


Barry A. Bunin, PhD, is the Founder & CEO of Collaborative Drug Discovery, which provides a modern approach to drug discovery research informatics trusted globally by thousands of leading researchers. CDD Vault® is a hosted biological and chemical database that securely manages your private and external data.