In this week’s roundup we look at new data coming out of the United Kingdom and Israel on their COVID-19 vaccination programs’ results. The U.K. reported last week promising data on the efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine after just one dose. We also highlight improvements in public perception of the pharmaceutical industry, a new executive order on supply chains and more.
Each week, we highlight five things you need to know about in the life sciences industry. Here’s the latest.
Countries around the globe continue to struggle to determine the optimal way to allocate COVID-19 vaccine doses, and they often have limited real-world data to guide these efforts. But recent studies out of Israel and the U.K. are starting to fill in those gaps in our understanding. This article from Biospace looks at data published by Public Health England that shows that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 70% effective at preventing infection after the first dose.
These new studies will help policymakers determine whether to focus on maximizing the number of people with at least one vaccine dose or maximizing the number of people fully vaccinated.
In recent years, the pharmaceutical industry has faced a number of headwinds in how the American public perceives it. For every miraculous cure approved, there seems to be a story about ever-increasing drug costs. For every new step forward in treating a previously untreatable disease, there is a story about a drug recall.
However, the sector’s massive progress and innovations over the past year in response to the pandemic have helped improve the public’s perception of the pharmaceutical industry, this Fierce Pharma piece reports. Industry leaders are hoping this welcome shift will be long lasting.
President Biden last week signed an executive order “requiring his administration to review critical supply chains with the aim of bolstering American manufacturing of semiconductors, pharmaceuticals and other cutting-edge technologies,” as this piece from The New York Times explains. The goal of these various reviews is to bring attention to supply chain risks, assess over-reliance on foreign partners and to provide policy recommendations to increase U.S. supply chain resiliency.
In pharmaceutical production, a majority of generic drugs prescribed in the U.S. are manufactured internationally or have active pharmaceutical ingredients sourced internationally, and COVID-19-related disruptions have only intensified those concerns. But the reality is that making drastic changes to U.S. life sciences supply chains is easier said than done and this executive order is unlikely to have any immediate impact on companies.
It’s important to note that the current semiconductor and chip shortages affecting our domestic technology and automotive sectors are also affecting the life sciences ecosystem. As life sciences companies become increasingly reliant on advanced computing, automation and technological innovation for drug development, clinical trials and manufacturing, it is critical for federal regulators and life sciences leaders to consider not only the drugs and devices that are manufactured internationally, but the core technology that makes the development of such products possible in the first place.
Messenger RNA, or mRNA, is a type of ribonucleic acid (RNA) with a primary function of carrying instructions inside our body to facilitate the production of proteins. COVID-19 vaccines use mRNA to help our immune system to recognize that the coronavirus doesn’t belong, and helps start the process to make the antibodies necessary to destroy it.
Researchers are also exploring potential therapeutic uses of mRNA in treating a range of other diseases. Recently, scientists at China’s National Center for Nanoscience and Technology used this same mRNA technology to develop a hydrogel that delivers a cancer therapeutic. Results have been promising.
The FDA recently granted Additive Orthopaedics an approval for its 3D-printed talus implant – the talus is the bone that connects the foot to the leg – for humanitarian use in patients diagnosed with avascular necrosis (AVN), a condition that results in the deterioration of bone tissue and cartilage due to a loss of blood supply. AVN most often affects the hip region but other common sites include the shoulder, knees and ankles.
The implant, made using cobalt chromium, helps the patient regain motion and reduces pain for a condition that previously required fusion or amputation of the limb. The approval comes after a three-year clinical trial involving 31 patients that received 32 successful replacement procedures, and is the latest example of the potential 3D printing has in the life sciences space.