Advanced Medicine in Brief
A $4-billion acquisition, a key finding for sarcopenia drug development, and algorithmic efficiency… What’s new in advanced medicine?
James Strachan | | Quick Read
- Bayer is paying $2 billion upfront and up to $2 billion in success-based milestone payments to acquire gene therapy developer AskBio. AskBio has a pipeline of gene therapies, including programs for Parkinson's, congestive heart failure, and Pompe disease in early human trials. “Instead of going to Wall Street and every quarter trying to make milestones, we have one financial partner with which we're trying to bring this technology to fruition,” said Sheila Mikhail, AskBio CEO (1).
- Losing muscle mass is a significant problem for older people and is partly due to a loss of the regenerative functions of satellite cells. Now, a team of researchers mainly based in Spain have found a subgroup of satellite cells that, due to FoxO activation, maintain their regenerative capacity over time, declining only at geriatric age. The scientists hope that their findings will help “harness the potential of stem cells for regenerative medicine in sarcopenia (2).”
- Techniques to culture and control cells have improved a lot over the years, but finding the perfect conditions to keep undifferentiated cells alive and prevent them from acquiring a different cellular state remains tricky. Now, researchers in Singapore and Australia have developed a computational biology algorithm called EpiMogrify, which predicts factors that maintain cell state in vitro and identifies factors that induce cell conversion. The team reported a significant increase in the efficiency of astrocyte and cardiomyocyte differentiation using EpiMogrify-predicted factors for conversion conditions. (3)
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- Bayer, “Bayer Acquires Asklepios BioPharmaceutical to Broaden Innovation Base in Cell and Gene Therapy” (2020). Available at: https://bit.ly/3e9dbKG
- L Garcia-Prat et al., “FoxO maintains a genuine muscle stem-cell quiescent state until geriatric age” Nat Cell Bio (2020).
- US Kamaraj et al., “EpiMogrify Models H3K4me3 Data to Identify Signaling Molecules that Improve Cell Fate Control and Maintenance” Cell Syst (2020).