One nonprofit’s ambitious new innovation for rare blood cancer patients
Good afternoon, readers.
Longtime readers are likely familiar with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), the largest nonprofit group for patients who have the rare blood cancer. On Tuesday, the group launched an ambitious new initiative called “CureCloud” into which founder Kathy Giusti gave Fortune a first look.
Giusti’s organization has been at this work for well over two decades and her philosophy—guided by experiences as a pharmaceutical executive, a multiple myeloma patient herself, and now a nonprofit leader—is simple: You need to provide the patients true value and break down the walls of academia to spur cancer drug development.
She describes CureCloud as a “crescendo of disruption.”
“With our support, anyone can now get sequenced,” Giusti tells me. “It doesn’t matter what your economic status is, we will sequence you if you raise your hand.”
The concept is (and you can read much more about it in my story from this morning) a technician can come into a patient’s home, conduct a blood test that will allow for that person’s genomic sequencing, and then get personalized information about which treatments and medical choices will work best for them. That can simultaneously inform patients while spurring new drug development in a democratized process.
It sounds like services such as 23andMe and Ancestry. But there’s a key difference. This is all free.
Read on for the day’s news.
A coronavirus test using... paper? Given the troubles of coronavirus testing (more on that below) new innovations in the space will prove critical. To that end, 3M is working with MIT in order to create a paper-based COVID test which they believe could be mass produced. "Our approach is ambitious, but our collective expertise can make a difference for people around the world, so we owe it to ourselves and society to give it our best effort," said John Banovetz, chief technology officer at 3M. (FierceBiotech)
Merck strikes HIV deal with Dewpoint worth up to $305 million. Merck became the latest company to team up with Dewpoint Therapeutics on Tuesday, in this case to develop HIV treatments with a deal worth up to $305 million. This adds to the $100 million arrangement between Dewpoint and Bayer to develop new heart and gynecological treatments. Merck is among a handful of big pharmas with a large presence in the infectious disease space. (BioSpace)
THE BIG PICTURE
Can coronavirus pass through pregnancy? My colleague Katherine Dunn delves into the complicated issue of whether or not coronavirus can afflict pregnant women, their fetuses, and their newborn children. There's significant nuance and controversy built into the issue, and Katherine parses them in clear terms following a new study from France suggesting coronavirus can be transmitted from mother to newborn in the womb. "Extensive blood testing of both the mother, the newborn, placenta and amniotic fluid revealed the baby had contracted COVID-19 through the mother's placenta," according to the research. But this is still a rare occurrence to date. (Fortune)
How the coronavirus has impacted VC dealmaking in 2020 so far, by Lucinda Shen
The class of 2020 is getting a crash course in job market uncertainty, by McKenna Moore