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It’s always fun (or at the very least interesting) when the big names align in the life sciences. To that end, British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is teaming up with the University of California, Berkeley and UC San Francisco on a new drug discovery project fueled by CRISPR gene-editing, the groups announced on Thursday.
The five-year, $67 million collaboration has some real heavy-hitters lined up in the wings – including CRISPR co-inventor Jennifer Doudna of Berkeley herself, as well as UCSF’s Jonathan Weissman. Rounding out the trio is Hal Barron, GSK’s chief scientific officer who is attempting to shake up the long-standing drug maker’s R&D approach through partnerships with genetic testing firms like 23andMe.
This new endeavor will be dubbed the Laboratory for Genomic Research (LGR) and will enjoy a shiny new lab space for conducting research specifically aimed at using CRISPR for medicine discovery.
“Once fully established, it will provide facilities for 24 University employees funded by GSK as well as up to 14 GSK employees, with a focus on immunology, neuroscience, and oncology. GSK’s machine learning group will build computational pipelines to analyze the extensive data the LGR will produce,” the groups said in a statement.
Read on for the day’s news.
House softens stance on national patient ID. Modern Healthcare reports that a recent House of Representatives appropriation bill includes a notable amendment to reverse a ban on creating a national patient identifier number - a move that has previously raised privacy concerns, but which proponents argue would make it far easier to match patients with the correct medical information up and down the health care supply chain. (Modern Healthcare)
Epi injectors could work long after the expiration date. A new study finds that expiration dates on many epinephrine auto-injectors may, for all practical purposes, be inaccurate, and that these products could very well work long after the listed use-by date. It's not an insignificant issue given the rising price of products like the EpiPen, which patients and their parents are forced to buy every year in order to restock after the expiration date. (Reuters)
THE BIG PICTURE
Another celebrity brouhaha over vaccinations. To preface this: Vaccines are safe, and effective, and recommended by pretty much every medical professional worth their salt. But "debates" over vaccine safety appear to arise all the time, especially when there's a celebrity voice involved. The latest is actress Jessica Biel and her reported concerns over a proposed vaccine bill in California; Biel was photographed with noted vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, although she later said she was "not against vaccinations," but rather concerned about the proposed legislation's potential, in her view, to restrict medical exemptions to vaccination. (CNN)
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