Even in normal times, being the head of a major agency like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would be challenging. These are far from normal times, so challenges will likely be even greater for the person expected to be nominated by President Biden. This week we also look at preparing for a pandemic superbug, a record year of venture financing for biotech, how to turn magnetic resonance imaging for children into a playground experience, and whether advanced medical devices should be used only in disease treatment or expanded to athletic development.
Each week we highlight five things you need to know in the life sciences industry. Here’s the latest.
With public interest high in the workings of the FDA—from COVID-19 vaccine and booster decisions to controversial decisions on Alzheimer’s treatment and high profile resignations—the next agency leader will be facing intense pressure. Endpoint News reports that the Biden administration is likely to nominate Rob Califf, a cardiologist, member of the National Academy of Medicine and leader at Alphabet’s health care company Verily.
In the midst of the current pandemic, it can seem overwhelming to consider the possibility of what the next pandemic will look like. However, as we have seen, we also can’t afford not to be prepared. Stat News this week points out that in the most recent federal government’s pandemic response plan the writers focus almost exclusively on viral disease. The article indicates this underestimates the risks of drug resistant bacterial infections and will leave us unprepared to respond.
Last year was a record year for venture capital funding for biotech companies. This year has already exceeded the 2020 totals with almost three months remaining. Year to date, biotechs have raised $24 billion from venture capitalists. One interesting trend is that there is a lower volume of deals, meaning that the deals that are closing are getting bigger.
In medicine, it is always important to remember that children are not just little adults. The tools and strategies that are needed to care for them need to be designed thoughtfully to reduce the stress on both children and their parents. Philips has released new MRIs and new tools that help caregivers turn the scary experience of getting an MRI into a game to help manage stress.
A study published in August in The Lancet examined the use of neurostimulation of the vagus to help people with paralysis in their arms or hands to regain use of that limb. What is fascinating about the study, which is highlighted in Wired, is the way this neurostimulation worked to allow the patients to improve. In addition, neurostimulation is also explored as a way for athletes to gain an advantage, which raises other concerns.