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Smartphone Test Results Speed Hospital Patient Release

iPhone

(JEShoots, Pixabay)

12 May 2017. Results of lab tests sent to doctors’ smartphones can speed the release of emergency room patients by nearly a half-hour, according to a newly published study. Findings from research conducted by a team of emergency physicians and colleagues at a University of Toronto hospital appear in the 9 May issue of the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine, published by American College of Emergency Physicians.

The researchers, led by Aikta Verma, an emergency physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, affiliated with University of Toronto, sought to determine any time advantages of using smartphones to receive test results. Of particular interest were reductions in waiting time for patients, who often need results of lab tests before they can be released. In some cases, patients’ lab tests are completed and available, but their doctors are occupied with other duties and not able to retrieve the results, while their patients wait.

Verma and colleagues tested a possible solution to the problem, sending lab test results to emergency physicians’ smartphones once the findings are available, a process known as push-alert notification. In this case, researchers focused on a particular test, for the presence of troponin proteins in a blood sample. A troponin test is usually ordered when a patient shows signs of a heart attack, such as chest pain or shortness of breath. The presence of troponin proteins in blood is an indicator of damage to heart muscle, with higher troponin levels suggesting greater damage to the heart.

In their study, the Toronto team over a 9-month period randomly assigned emergency department physicians at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to receive patients’ troponin test results by push-alerts on their smartphones once results were available. For comparison, the same physicians received no such alerts for similar patients when troponin tests were ordered during that period. The researchers looked primarily at the amount of time taken from final results of troponin tests to the decision to discharge the patient, but also the total amount of time spent by patients in the emergency department.

The results show patients of emergency physicians receiving troponin test results on their smartphones were released quicker than comparable patients whose doctors did not receive lab tests on their phones. Of the 1,554 patients discharged after complaining of chest pain during that time, the median amount of time between test results and discharge overall was nearly 80 minutes.

Patients whose doctors received lab results via push alerts on their phones took a median of 68.5 minutes, while doctors not receiving push alerts needed 94.3 minutes to discharge their patients, a difference of almost 26 minutes. The total amount of time spent in the emergency department, however, did not vary that much between patients with doctors receiving push alerts, and patients whose doctors received lab test results through other means, with median times of 328 and 345 minutes respectively.

“Physicians who received troponin results on their smartphones,” says Verma in an American College of Emergency Physicians statement, “made the decision to discharge their patients with chest pain a median of 26 minutes faster than physicians without troponin push-alert notifications. She notes that, “For many patients, waiting for lab results that determine if they stay in the hospital or go home is the hardest part of the ER visit.”

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Trial to Test Spherical Nanotech Brain Cancer Drug

Spherical nucleic acid

Spherical nucleic acid (Mirkin Research Group, Northwestern University)

12 May 2017. An early-stage clinical trial will soon begin testing spherically-shaped nanoscale particles to treat glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. Northwestern University medical center in Chicago, which developed the drug technology, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its investigational new drug application, making possible a study of the treatments’ safety.

Glioblastoma is a cancer that forms in the brain’s glial cells that support the functioning of neurons in the brain sending and receiving nerve signals. The cancer generally grows and spreads quickly, often resulting death within 15 months of diagnosis. American Association of Neurological Surgeons estimates glioblastoma, also known as glioblastoma multiforme, occurs in 2 to 3 out of 100,000 adults per year, and accounts for 52 percent of all primary brain tumors.

The drug technology called spherical nucleic acids to treat glioblastoma results from a collaboration between the labs of biochemist and materials scientist Chad Mirkin and neurologist Alexander Stegh. Spherical nucleic acids are densely packed particles, with nucleic acids like those in the genetic materials DNA and RNA, around a spherical core. Their nanoscale size and shape, say the researchers, enable the particles to efficiently enter cells, and once inside regulate genetic processes of those cells. Spherical nucleic acids can also be programmed to assemble like building blocks into more complex structures.

The spherical nucleic acid treatment being tested in the trial, code-named NU-0129, is designed to cross the blood-brain barrier, an obstacle often faced by drugs addressing brain disorders. It contains pieces of RNA packed on the surface of gold nanoparticles, which target the gene BCL2L12 that regulates apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Preclinical studies with lab animals, say the researchers, indicate the treatments work as designed.

“We know this drug works in mice,” says Stegh in a university statement. “Now we need to know if it can cross the human blood-brain barrier and accumulate in the tumor of a human being.” The clinical trial is focused almost entirely on the treatments’ safety, with the research team led by brain cancer specialist Priya Kumthekar, looking primarily for signs of adverse events in the 8 glioblastoma patients. The researchers will also measure concentrations of NU-0129 in blood and ability of the drug to penetrate the patients’ brain tumors. Progression-free and overall survival among the patients will be tracked as well.

The design of the therapy suggests the same approach could be applied to other neurological conditions. “If the spherical nucleic acids cross the barrier and localize in the brain,” notes Mirkin, “the implications go beyond glioblastoma. This would give us the ability to target diseases of the brain by targeting pathways that we know are associated with different diseases, including Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s diseases.”

Northwestern University developed NU-0129 without funding from a pharmaceutical company, which is considered unusual in the industry. “We want to get the drug to patients as quickly as possible,” says Jay Walsh, the university’s vice president for research. “We want to move the drug forward because there are patients with a disease with no current cure.”

In the following video, the researchers tell more about spherical nucleic acids and the clinical trial.

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Liquid Biopsy Company Gains $360M for Cancer Sequencing

Blood sample

(Public Domain Pictures/Pixabay)

11 May 2017. A company using blood tests to diagnose cancer is receiving a $360 million investment for its campaign to sequence DNA from 1 million people at high risk of cancer. Softbank, a technology holding company based in Japan, is leading the investment in Guardant Health in Redwood City, California.

Guardant’s technology offers genomic sequencing of blood samples provided by cancer patients, looking for circulating tumor cells in the blood, rather than tissue sample biopsies that often require invasive surgery. The company says its platform performs a digital sequencing of genomes from the blood samples that makes it possible to tell true cancer-causing mutations from noise and distortions returned from even modern next-generation genomic sequencing. Its main service, known as Guardant 360, tests for 73 genes representing exons, or coding regions for proteins, most associated with cancer-causing mutations for individuals with cancer in advanced stages.

The $360 million in new funds from Softbank and others are expected to finance expansion of Guardant’s Lunar project, begun last year. In this project, Guardant applies its diagnostics technology to early-stage cancer detection, beginning with residual cancer in patients already receiving treatment, including surgery and radiation. Testing is then planned with 1 million individuals considered to be in populations at high risk, looking for early-stage evidence of cancer, but not yet diagnosed.

“We believe our rapid, iterative approach,” says Guardant Health co-founder and president Amir Ali Talasaz in a company statement, “will generate the data necessary to develop non-invasive tests that are both sensitive enough to detect cancer early in high-risk populations, and specific enough to avoid inflicting unnecessary anxiety and harm through overdiagnosis.”

The funding also supports a joint venture with Softbank to expand Guardant’s services to more areas of the world. The venture is expected to introduce Guardant’s liquid biopsy services to Asia, the Middle East, and Africa where the companies say some 7.8 million new cancer cases are diagnosed each year.

Joining with Softbank in this financial round are Guardant current investors Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, OrbiMed, and 8VC. New investors representing funds and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Temasek, and others are also taking part. Guardant says the new funding increases the amount of capital it raised to more than $500 million.

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Personalized Drug Delivery System Demonstrated

Biosensor in drug delivery system

Biosensor used in prototype closed-loop drug delivery system (Soh lab, Stanford University)

11 May 2017. Biomedical engineers developed and demonstrated in lab animals a closed-loop system that monitors and controls delivery of drugs to meet an individual’s personalized needs. A team from Stanford University and University of California in Santa Barbara published its findings in yesterday’s issue of the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering (paid subscription required).

Researchers led by Stanford engineering and radiology professor Tom Soh are seeking a way to provide precise and personalized drug doses based on an individual’s needs. A person’s genetic and physiological characteristics, as well as chemistry of the drugs being administered, can make it difficult to prescribe correct doses at various times. In addition, external factors, such as other drugs being taken, can affect the way a person interacts with medications, sometimes with dire consequences.

Soh’s lab at Stanford, and earlier at UC-Santa Barbara, studies natural nucleic acid substances called aptamers that recognize and bind strongly to specified targets. In binding to its targets, aptamers conform to the target’s chemistry, thus changing their shape in predictable ways. In the study, Soh and colleagues use this property of aptamers to devise a sensor that monitors the shape of designated aptamers, reporting on changes such as greater or lesser quantities of the targeted drugs.

The researchers’ system uses this biosensor in a monitor, which combined with a controller and infusion pump, dispenses drugs, making adjustments as needed in real time. The monitor’s software keeps track of an individual’s personalized body chemistry, which alerts the controller to change the drug’s concentration as needed. The system is designed as a platform technology for use with a wide range of medications and patient types.

The Stanford-Santa Barbara team tested the closed-loop system with the cancer chemotherapy drug doxorubicin, prescribed for a number of blood-related and solid tumor cancers. In this proof-of-concept study, researchers used their system to administer doses of doxorubicin to lab rats and rabbits, at specified dosages, keeping the doses at those levels in real time. The team reports introducing other compounds known to cause wide swings in doxorubicin levels, with the system able to respond and change the quantities to prevent sharp spikes or dips in the animals’ drug levels.

“This is the first time anyone has been able to continuously control the drug levels in the body in real time,” says Soh in a Stanford University statement. “This is a novel concept with big implications because we believe we can adapt our technology to control the levels of a wide range of drugs.”

The researchers feel a system of this type can be a vital tool for precision medicine, and plan to miniaturize the technology into a self-contained device implanted or worn by patients, such as individuals with type 1 diabetes who need to control levels of both insulin and glucagon to regulate their blood glucose. Pediatric cancer patients, for whom prescribing safe and effective drug doses is difficult, would also be early targets for the technology.

Soh is a scientific adviser to Aptitude Medical Systems, a company in Santa Barbara that licenses his earlier research on aptamers at UC-Santa Barbara. Scott Ferguson, CEO and founder of Aptitude Medical Systems, is a co-author of the paper.

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Sound Waves, Nanotech Delivery Boost Cancer Drug

Chemotherapy vials

(National Cancer Institute)

10 May 2017. Focused sound waves aimed at nanoscale bubbles filled with a cancer drug, were shown in lab mice to improve delivery of the drug to a particularly hard-to-treat cancer. Test results of the technique conducted at University of Turin in Italy appeared in yesterday’s issue of the journal Endocrine-Related Cancer, published by Society for Endocrinology.

The Turin team led by cancer researcher Maria Graziella Catalano is seeking better ways to treat cancers often considered difficult to reach. Among these types of cancer is anaplastic thyroid cancer, a rare form of the disease affecting about 1 percent of all thyroid cancer cases. However, anaplastic thyroid cancer is also among the most aggressive and deadly thyroid cancers, with an average survival time of about 5 months.

Compounding the problems with this disease is only one approved chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin, to treat it. Doxorubicin benefits only about 1 in 5 patients (22%) and, because of its toxicity, the drug must be carefully targeted to prevent adverse side effects, including cardiac problems. One way of better targeting chemotherapies is with nanoparticle forms that enable tiny pieces of the drug to accumulate at the tumor site, rather than flowing the drug through the general blood stream. But when tried previously, doxorubicin nanoparticles experienced problems reaching tumors, due to leakage and misdirected delivery through the tumor’s blood vessels.

In this study, Catalano and colleagues tested a technique called extracorporeal shock waves, that sends highly targeted ultrasound into the tumors to release nanoscale forms of the chemotherapy drug. Extracorporeal shock waves are a non-invasive therapy for breaking up kidney stones and treating orthopedic conditions such as plantar fasciitis and tendonitis, where the waves are aimed at targets from outside the body.

This time, the shock waves are aimed at nanoscale gas bubbles filled with doxorubicin. The nanobubbles are designed to accumulate at the tumor site, where the drug is released into the tumor after being exposed to extracorporeal shock waves.

The researchers tested the technique in mice grafted with human anaplastic thyroid cancer. For comparison, other groups of mice with the same cancer grafts were given the drug-filled nanobubbles but no extracorporeal shock waves, or standard doxorubicin treatments, or were left untreated.

Mice receiving both nanobubbles and the ultrasound waves had more accumulation of drugs in their tumors, as well as more loss of tumor volume, greater tumor cell death, and less cancer cell proliferation than mice receiving other or no treatments. The team also checked the hearts of the mice and found no damage in the nanobubble and ultrasound-treated mice, while the hearts of mice receiving the other doxorubicin treatments showed signs of fibrosis and oxidative stress.

These findings led the authors to conclude that the combination of doxorubicin-loaded nanobubbles with extracorporeal shock waves are a promising treatment strategy for anaplastic thyroid cancer, or ATC, and other solid-tumor cancers. “Given the promising results of this preclinical study and the lack of a standard therapy for ATC,” says Catalano in a Society for Endocrinology statement, “the next step will be conducting clinical trials with the hope of improving the cancer treatment and patient quality of life.”

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Patent Awarded for COPD Dry Powder Inhaler Formula

lung illustration

(Kai Stachowiak, Pixabay)

9 May 2017. A formulation for dry powder inhalers to treat respiratory diseases that its developers say delivers medication to the lungs more efficiently received a U.S. patent. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today awarded patent number 9,642,798 to two inventors, and assigned the rights to Pulmatrix Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Pulmatrix develops inhaled medications to treat serious respiratory disorders, including COPD, short for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. COPD is a progressive respiratory disorder that makes it difficult to breathe, and causes coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. The leading cause of COPD is cigarette smoking, but other irritants like chemical fumes or air pollution can contribute to the condition.

Two major forms of the disease are emphysema, where walls between air sacs in the lungs are damaged and chronic bronchitis, where  the lining of the airways is constantly irritated and inflamed. COPD is a major cause of disability and the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Pulmatrix says the patent covers the dry powder technology underlying its products, called iSperse, short for inhaled small particles easily respirable and emitted, applied to COPD treatments. The iSperse dry particles, says the company, overcome a serious problem with current dry-powder inhalers, namely the sticking of medication particles in the mouth and throat, which limits delivery of drugs into the lungs where they’re needed. The powder particles are smaller, denser, and milled to be more aerodynamic to avoid being deposited in the mouth or throat.

The company says iSperse can be adapted to many kinds of drug compounds and biologics. In the case of COPD, Pulmatrix delivers tiotropium bromide, a key ingredient in the drug Spiriva, made by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, approved for COPD as well as asthma. Pulmatrix says its lead product, code-named PUR0200, delivers tiotropium bromide to the lungs more completely and efficiently, making it possible to uses doses only about 20 percent of those in other inhaler formulations.

PUR0200 completed early stage clinical trials, with intermediate-stage studies next in line. The latest early-stage trial, reported in July 2016 tested 7 different formulations of PUR0200, for their ability to deliver drug payloads to the body. Results show comparable concentrations in blood samples from the 42 participants in all 7 of the formulations of PUR0200 similar to current inhaled COPD drugs, but in smaller doses. Safety profiles of PUR0200 were similar to current COPD drugs, with no serious adverse effects reported. An earlier study shows PUR0200 improves lung functions in people with moderate to severe COPD, but also in smaller doses than current drugs.

In March 2017, Pulmatrix received a European patent protecting its general dry powder technology, similar to a U.S. patent awarded in September 2016. The company is developing PUR0200 initially for the European market, with drug maker Mylan holding an option to license and commercialize PUR0200 outside the U.S.

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Univ. Spin-Off Creating Baby Brain Development Food

Pregnant woman

(Greyerbaby, Pixabay)

9 May 2017. A start-up enterprise spun-off from the Duke-NUS medical school in Singapore is licensing research for a new food product for mothers to help a baby’s cognitive development. The company, Babynostics Pte Ltd, was founded last year by Duke-NUS biochemistry professor David Silver, based on his research into molecular mechanisms behind human brain growth and functioning.

Silver and colleagues study a protein needed to transport vital nutrients for cognitive development in babies across the blood-brain barrier. The protein, known as Mfsd2a, helps an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, cross from blood into the brain, which enables the brains in fetuses and new-born babies to develop normally. Babies with impaired Mfsd2a functioning cannot deliver DHA and other essential fatty acids into the brain, and as a result suffer from limited brain development, including microcephaly, the brain disorder in some children born to mothers infected with the Zika virus.

Babynostics plans to develop diagnostic tests and medicinal food products for pregnant women to monitor and encourage functions related to a baby’s brain growth. The diagnostics are expected to monitor in expectant mothers levels of lipids that bind to DHA, which are carried by Mfsd2a into the developing brains of fetuses. Levels of these lipids in the blood of expectant mothers decrease over the course of the pregnancy, as babies’ brains develop in the fetus.

In preterm or low-birth weight babies, however, these low levels of lipids that bind to DHA can remain low for extended periods of time. Preterm babies, says Silver in a Duke-NUS statement, are at particular risk. “One in 10 babies are born premature,” notes Silver. “When a baby is born preterm, they typically have not received sufficient DHA during fetal development and run the risk of experiencing brain development problems and other related complications.”

The company’s diagnostics will identify insufficient levels of DHA-binding lipids to highlight the need for treatment or supplements. Babynostics also expects to develop a medicinal food product, called PrenatalDHA, for mothers with high-risk pregnancies, including preterm and low-birth weight babies, to aid in children’s cognitive development. The company expects PrenatalDH to be on the market by late 2017.

Babynostics is supported by Sprim Ventures, an international life science and health care investment company and early-stage business incubator. Licensing of the technology for Babynostics was carried out by the Centre for Technology and Development, the technology transfer office at Duke-NUS.

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Trial to Examine Immune System Workings

Vaccine syringe

(FirstResponder.gov)

8 May 2917. A clinical trial is recruiting participants to better understand the way vaccines work in the human body. Unlike conventional clinical studies testing a particular treatment, this trial, sponsored by the Human Vaccines Project, aims to explore in more detail the body’s interactions with a class of drugs, in this case vaccines.

The Human Vaccines Project is a coalition of pharmaceutical companies, research institutes, and academic medical centers examining the science behind the immune system, to help speed development of preventive and therapeutic vaccines. The group aims to overcome obstacles that prevent the engineering of the human immune system, to deliver lifelong protection against infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases like cancer.

This new trial is a demonstration of a commercially-available vaccine for hepatitis B, marketed as Energix-B by drug maker GlaxoSmithKline. The vaccine’s safety and effectiveness against hepatitis B, a viral infection in the liver, is already known. In this study, a team from the Vaccine Evaluation Center at University of British Columbia is more interested in finding out why some people can be protected by one dose of the vaccine, while other individuals need multiple doses.

The goal of the initiative, says Wayne Koff, CEO of the Human Vaccines Project in an organization statement is to determine, “the core principles of how the human immune system recognizes pathogens and fights diseases [to] enable a more precise approach for developing vaccines and immunotherapies for a wide range of diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and cancer.”

Researchers led by pediatrics and immunology professors Manish Sadarangani and Tobias Kollmann are recruiting 10 healthy individuals age 40 to 80, with no history of hepatitis B to receive injections of the vaccine. The clinical trial will look primarily at production of antibodies from the vaccine, but also measure a number of other factors involving chemical activity in the body.

Among the additional factors assessed are effects of the vaccine on the body’s genetic processes. The study plans to takes measures before and at several points after vaccinations in responses by T- and B-cells in the immune system, as well as DNA sequencing of those immune system cells. The researchers will also evaluate RNA sequencing of whole blood and immune system cells, analyze proteins in whole blood and white blood cells that are part of the immune system, changes in epigenetics, or alterations in the genome from outside the genetic code, metabolic analysis of blood plasma, and immune responses in local lymph nodes.

In addition, the team will assess natural microbe communities in the gut, nose, mouth, and skin before and after vaccination at various points up to 6 months following the injections.

“The licensed hepatitis B vaccine, which only works in about 30 percent of people on the first shot,” adds Kollmann, “is an ideal model vaccine to study general principles of human immunological protection because it is one of the few vaccines for which we know how it protects.”

The team plans to expand enrollment in the initial study to 20 participants, with the study eventually growing to several hundred individuals in all age groups, to include people from low- and middle-income regions.

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3 Ways To Make Your Business Eco-Friendly (And How Doing So Can Benefit You)

– Contributed content –

8 May 2017. Most people who run their own businesses have a common goal in mind. This could be a financial goal to try and attain, or it could be to end up regarded as one of the greatest business brains in the world. But something more and more business owners are looking at now is how to make their business greener. Environmental health is a huge issue in the present day, with anyone and everyone giving their two cents on how they feel about it. There are some people who deny that climate change is happening at all, while at the other end of the spectrum, there are others who believe we should be sacrificing certain things in order to make the environment a greater priority.

For those of us running businesses, it may seem that at first glance, the well-being of the environment is not totally relevant to what it is we do. But there can actually be many different benefits to running an eco-friendly business. The first one is that, of course, you get to live safely in the knowledge that you are ‘doing your bit’ for the natural world. If you are in any way inclined to care for the environment – and let’s face it, most of us should be – making your business greener can be one way you can contribute to the protection and fruition of our planet.

But going green can also benefit you on a slightly more selfish level too. An eco-friendly business can mean that you are automatically opened up to many more contributors, clients and staff alike. If the environment is something close to these people’s hearts, they will want to work with you, meaning you essentially have the pick of the crop. Plus, being eco-friendly can also actually save you money as well. You may find that after a few months of running an environmentally friendly business, your overheads are nothing compared to what they once were. So, if making your business greener is something you’re interested in, what exactly are the steps you need to take? Read on to find out.

Cyclists

(Flickr)

Offer an incentive for green transportation

No matter where your office is based, it’s pretty likely that most of your employees (including yourself) drive to work. We all know the pain of the 9-5 commute, where we sit in standstill traffic for hours on end before we even set foot inside the office block. This can be pretty disheartening, and to top it all off, very bad for the environment. The fumes from cars add to the thick smog we tend to get in many major cities, and in such huge quantities, it can be very harmful to natural life. One way to make sure that your company isn’t responsible for the running of hundreds of employee cars is to make sure your headquarters are situated somewhere fairly central. An employee who lives in an inner-city apartment is, of course, going to be reluctant to cycle 20 miles to the middle of nowhere each day, after all.

But how else, exactly, do you persuade your staff to ditch the car in favor of a more eco-friendly transport option? The first thing to remember is that not everyone is going to be okay with this. You may have people on your team who live out of the range of public transport to be able to give up their car, or you may have an employee who has a chronic illness and therefore cycling is out of the question for them. But for those, it is feasible for, setting an incentive for walking, cycling or riding the subway to work can be a great way to minimize your company’s carbon footprint. There are some existing schemes in place that allow you to collect points for every carbon mile you save, or you could invent your own and poll a leaderboard, with a prize at the end. Sit down and discuss this with your team, and make sure you cover all the benefits. It will help you as a workforce become fitter too and can be a good way to bring some positive PR to your firm as well.

Be strict with paper uses

The average business HQ will naturally have piles and piles of paper documents floating around, that have all been drawn up or printed by various people. However, some these piles that contain important and relevant documents is usually very minimal. Many of us don’t consider the effect that numerous sheets of printed paper have on the environment. After all, we just see the paper coming out of the machine, and the seemingly endless supply of it that is kept in the office store cupboard. But the supply isn’t always as endless as we may think – especially if we consider the real life trees that are being cut down to provide said paper for our office blocks. There are forests all over the world that are being destroyed for paper, and although we might not see it with our own eyes, this means that people and animal’s homes are consequently being destroyed too.

Of course, every business needs paper, and a lot of it too – that’s something no one can deny. But thankfully, there are things you can do to ensure that your business doesn’t waste anywhere near as much paper as before. One of these things is to print double-sided, rather than on individual separate sheets. Not only will you be helping the planet, but you’ll also save a lot of money on paper too, as you’ll go through your supply at a much slower pace. Additionally, enforce a rule that makes employees question whether printing is necessary. A lot of the time, we mindlessly print things just because we can, and this leads to a lot of wasted paper. Instead, speak to your employees about cutting down their printer usage. If you feel it will help, put a gentle warning sign above the office printer to ward them off; you’d be surprised how much of a positive effect it can have!

Open office cubicles

(Flickr)

Re-think your office energy supply

There’s no getting away from the fact that business premises do use a lot of energy, every single day. There are multiple computers to fire up, printers and fax machines, ceiling and desk light, and heating and A/C, depending on what time of year it is. All this can lead to one massive energy bill at the end of each month, and also a pretty damning carbon footprint left behind by your business. With this in mind, why not look into alternative energy sources to fuel your business for the better? Things like solar panels used to be considered radical and an extreme solution for those people who were exceptionally dedicated to the cause. Now, they are a common and viable option for residential and commercial properties alike. The initial setup cost may be fairly large, but you will soon make back that money with the amount of energy you save.

As far as lighting goes, look into LED bulbs as they tend to be much more energy efficient than regular halogen ones, and consider putting all your office lighting on a motion sensor, so you don’t accidentally leave anything on overnight. Being eco-friendly might not be the first thing most of us think of when we set up a business, but doing so can improve our professional lives in more ways than one.

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$2 Billion Biotech Licensing Deal Cancelled

Drug vials

(angelsalamag054, Pixabay)

8 May 2017. A licensing deal with a potential value of more than $2 billion between two biotechnology companies for a new breast cancer drug was cancelled on Friday. However, Immunomedics Inc., in Morris Plains, New Jersey, says it found alternative financing to continue development of the drug, which it previously licensed to Seattle Genetics in Bothell, Washington.

Under the agreement announced in February 2017, Seattle Genetics received an exclusive license to further develop and commercialize the drug sacituzumab govitecan, code-named IMMU-132 by Immunomedics, an antibody drug conjugate. Both Seattle Genetics and Immunomedics create antibody-drug conjugates, which join highly-targeted synthetic antibodies with other compounds or additives to combine the targeting of antibodies with cancer-killing power of the drugs being delivered. Seattle Genetics paid $250 million upfront and agreed to further payments to Immunomedics totaling $2.1 billion if all developmental and regulatory milestones were met.

As reported in Science & Enterprise, Immunomedics’s technology combines synthetic antibodies with cancer-killing compounds that by themselves would not be given to patients due to their toxicity. In this case, IMMU-132 targets Trop-2 proteins that overproduce on the surface of tumor cells in a number of solid-tumor cancers and help drive tumor growth. In IMMU-132, an antibody called hRS7 targets Trop-2 proteins that combines with SN-38, a metabolite of the drug irinotecan and approved by FDA as a chemotherapy.

According to the Seattle Times, Immunomedics has gone through legal and management turmoil since the deal’s announcement. Activist investors in Immunomedics objected to the deal, arguing Seattle Genetics should have paid a higher price for IMMU-132. The investors, led by venture capital company VenBio, sued in a Delaware state court, which in March issued a temporary restraining order to halt the agreement. In a Seattle Genetics statement on Friday, company CEO Clay Siegall attributed the cancellation to, “significant delays and lack of progress towards closing the deal ….”

On Friday, Immunomedics’ founder David Goldenberg, and Cynthia Sullivan, Goldenberg’s wife who serves as company CEO, stepped down. Chief financial officer Michael Garone will stay on as interim CEO. While both parties agreed to cancel  the licensing deal, Seattle Genetics continues to hold 3 million shares in Immunomedics stock, as well as an option to purchase more shares at a favorable price.

Immunomedics says it raised $125 million in a private stock sale to fund new clinical trials of IMMU-132. The antibody drug conjugate is in an intermediate-stage trial testing the treatment with individuals having a number of different solid tumor cancers. Intermediate- and late-stage trials testing the antibody drug conjugate in people with triple negative breast cancer are not yet recruiting participants, according to ClinicalTrials.gov.

The company still believes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will approve an accelerated schedule for a biologics license application and review of IMMU-132 to treat triple-negative breast cancer in combination with other drugs. The agency gave IMMU-132 a breakthrough designation in February 2016. Immunomedics says it recruited 100 participants for its intermediate-stage trial by December 2016, and it expects to start enrolling individuals in its late-stage trial in the last quarter of 2017.

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