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Brainstorm Health: Zika Vaccine, Sanofi/Regeneron Catch a Break, Does Obamacare Still Exist

October 5, 2017, 8:30 PM UTC

Greetings, readers! This is Sy.

An early-stage clinical study of a Zika vaccine from Inovio Pharmaceuticals and South Korea-based GeneOne Life Science Inc showed promise, inducing an immune response to the virus in all of the study participants.

It’s not exactly a cause for celebration quite yet. The trial only included 40 participants. But progress on fighting Zika, which can cause horrible birth defects in infected pregnant women, is always noteworthy—and the experimental treatment, GLS-5700, is a pretty unique vessel for combating the mosquito-borne virus that some researchers hope could surpass the more traditional approaches.

The treatment differs from your everyday vaccine because it’s synthetic. It doesn’t have a dead version of Zika virus, or one that’s been weakened in order to spur the immune system to fight. Rather, it’s lab-created using genomic Zika fragments, loaded up on to a DNA fragment amenable to humans, inserted into the body, and jolted into cell entry and reproduction via electrical shock.

Again, the results are still very early. But, if this sort of technique continues to succeed, there might be a way to speed up other critical vaccine development, too.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


Verily wants to become the car black box of human biology. Google parent Alphabet's life sciences arm, Verily, has embarked on an ambitious quest to map the contours of human health with a gigantic study that incorporates personalized biometric data. That, Verily executives argued at a recent conference, is a model comparable to the kind of information you can gather from a car—continuous data that provides both a short-term and long-term picture of the body. (MobiHealthNews)


Court gives Sanofi/Regeneron new life on key cholesterol drug patent. A federal appellate court decision reverses an unexpected patent blow that French pharma giant Sanofi and Partner Regeneron faced at the hands of rival Amgen over a next-generation class of pricey cholesterol drugs. Sanofi and Regeneron would get a new trial under the ruling; Amgen immediately stated it would continue to fight in court. (Reuters)


Do people even realize Obamacare is still a thing? One of the biggest challenges for navigators attempting to sign Obamacare-eligible people up for the health law is that many don't even realize it's still the law of the land. The continuing political battles over Obamacare, and a huge pullback on federal funding for outreach efforts, has likely contributed to the confusion. (The Hill)


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Could Cannabis-Infused Beer Be the Next IPA? by Chris Morris

Netflix Quietly Raises Its Subscription Pricesby Don Reisinger

U.S. Probing Collision Between Civilian Drone and Army Helicopterby Reuters

Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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