Week 47: Unexpected spread of infectious prions, Trump’s Part B pricing plan, Cannabis increases presence in animal health

Posted on November 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

Infectious Prions Spread Through Corneal Grafts

GEN has reported that evidence of infectious prions responsible for sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (sCJD) has been found in eyes of patients who are deceased. Researchers from University of California (UC) San Diego and UC San Francisco have worked alongside the NIH to publish a paper detailing their findings, indicating that their discovery can help diagnose patients earlier. Caused by an abnormal form of normally harmless prion proteins in the body, sCJD has been known to cause visual changes in half of patients, as well as cause other neurodegenerations throughout the body. While it has been known that corneal grafts can unknowingly transmit sCJD to graft recipients, it was not known the distribution pattern within the eyes on infected patients. The researchers say their data can help answers some of the questions currently, including how to test before signs of sCJD are evident.

Bio-Rad Laboratories Secures USDA Contract

The life science laboratory company has secured a contract with the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Services with the use of their iQ-Check real-time PCR and pathogen testing kits, alongside their iQ-Check Prep Automation System, as reported by Laboratory Network. This technology will be used to detect and prevent the spread of food-borne pathogens in different food products, including meat, poultry, and some processed egg products. Common food-borne illnesses that can be detected in E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, and Salmonella spp to name a few.

Trump’s Part B Pricing Plan

BioPharma-Reporter illustrates the reactions across the industry to Trump’s Part B pricing plan. BIO’s VP of Industry, David Thomas, denotes the plan, stating it ‘undermines the incentive to innovate and invest in drug development.’

The plan is to lower drug prices for part B Medicaid drugs to those countries of similar economics. However, it has been stated that this could impact drug company stock prices in the short term and innovation across biotechnology in the long run.

Hurdles in Advancing Gene Therapy Manufacturing

In an article by PharmTech it was stated that efficient scale-up processes are lacking, causing issues when companies transition from one phase to the next. It is said that the FDA can be ‘lenient’ when approving applications from manufacturers for Phase I trials, but it’s when advancing to the next phase that requires increased production can cause delays. This has caused a demand for increased manufacturing capabilities across the industry in order for gene therapies to improve.

The Challenges Facing Scaling Up Bioprocessing

Biopharm International covers the challenges in scaling up bioprocessing and the adoptions in technology that have been made recently which have allowed for improvements to happen. Alex Chatel, product manager at Univercells, describes changes bioreactor manufacturers have made that started integrating analytical technologies in the form of sensors. This allows for better prediction and for the user to have better control between changes in scale. He also describes the cost of operation as another challenge in scaling up. Usually processes rely on the culturing of adherent cells, which can get expensive when utilizing traditional technologies. One of the ways Univercells is getting around this is by using their scale-X bioreactor, which incorporates a spiral bound membrane for the growth of large quantities of high-quality adherent cells. By applying concepts similar to those in chromatography, the height of the bioreactor is kept the same while the diameter increases to allow for a subsequent increase in production, and conditions such as physical and chemical are kept the same to allow for ease of risk-free scalability.

Rick Morris, senior vice-president of product development at Pall Corp weighs in, stating process intensification will allow for quicker production of personalized medicine, such as gene therapy and, eventually, cell therapy. He said this will also speed up and allow for the screening of more monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and other recombinant proteins. Read on to find out what else industry experts are saying in regard to scaling up therapies.

UK Invests in Next Generation Biomanufacturing, Companies

BioPharma-Reporter covers the series of initiatives being made to help increase patients’ access to cell and gene therapies at a faster rate by streamlining manufacturing processes in the UK. Investments will be made to different companies, each focusing on different areas of technology such as robotics and computer systems. The other part of the investment is in support of Advanced Therapy Treatment Centers that provide cell and gene therapies treatments to patients.

Ever wondered the science behind hot chocolate?

We definitely hadn’t. That is, until BioTechniques eloquently explained this winter favorite. Composed of creamy milk, cocoa powder, and the occasional marshmallow, this warm and delightful beverage utilizes emulsification and colloids to bring us cheer during the colder months.

A new line of CBD products for companion animals’ debut

American Veterinarian has released information on Smart Hemp CBD, a newly launched line of products specifically formulated for pets. Designed under the guidance of a veterinarian, this terpene- and phytocannabinoid-rich cannabidiol (CBD) product is reported to provide everyday health benefits to cats, dogs, and horses as well as relief of anxiety, anorexia, allergies, seizures, arthritis, and aggressive behavior.

Smart hemp CBD was founded by Bill Hansen, who was inspired by his dog’s battle with cancer and his own experience with Parkinson’s disease. Hansen says taking CBD oil has helped slow the progression of his disease over the past four years. He says the company and its products were designed with safety, quality, and consistency in mind.

CBD supports the endocannabinoid system in mammals and mimics naturally occurring chemicals that block certain receptors to help maintain a body’s dynamic equilibrium. Smart Hemp products do not contain any tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC), the compound that causes a user to get “high.” There is controversy around the use of CBD and related products in the veterinary industry, but there is also curiosity circulating as to the potential immune benefits and if it can rival the need for prescription medications. It has even been listed as one of the top three trends in pet care for 2019.