2 cool things: animal biotech and antibodies

April 8, 2020
Congratulations to the several BIO members who were included in Endpoints News’ 20 Under 40 in Biopharma! We’re proud to be working with so many next-generation biotech leaders.  Today, we take a closer look at how animal biotech policy can help us fight coronavirus,…
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Congratulations to the several BIO members who were included in Endpoints News’ 20 Under 40 in Biopharma! We’re proud to be working with so many next-generation biotech leaders. 

Today, we take a closer look at how animal biotech policy can help us fight coronavirus, as well as answer some of your questions about antibodies, in about 860 words, just over 4 minutes.

What the coronavirus teaches us about animal biotech policy

 
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The coronavirus pandemic is teaching us more about the need for both One Health strategies as well as modernization of America’s biotech regulatory approach, writes Dana O'Brien, BIO's EVP of Food & Agriculture Biotechnology Innovation, in Agri-Pulse.

60% of human diseases begin in animals—including, most likely, COVID-19. 

This is why we need One Health, which “eliminates barriers that often exist between human health, animal health, and environmental health strategies to create smarter, multi-faceted and coordinated efforts,” he says.

 
Agri-Pulse tweet on Dana O'Brien's op-ed
 

Specifically, we need legislation to “advance a national One Health framework to better prevent, prepare for, and respond to zoonotic disease outbreaks like COVID-19.” 

But we also need to modernize animal biotech regulation. “The U.S. government’s current approach to regulating animal biotechnology as a ‘new animal drug’ has all but destroyed investment and blocked market access for a host of beneficial products,” he continues. 

These innovations—like developing animals resistant to disease or utilizing animal biotech to create treatments for humans—could help find solutions during this pandemic, or future ones. 

To do this, “BIO is calling on the White House to direct the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the USDA to clarify within 30 days a plan to overhaul the current regulatory approval process for animal biotechnology.” 

Read Dana’s entire op-ed. 

Check out BIO’s issue brief on how animal biotech can help us respond to pandemics.

 

More Agriculture and Environment News:

Brownfield Ag News: POET idles three plants; Senators call on USDA to help the biofuels industry
“More ethanol plants are shutting down as a result of the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic…Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators has sent a letter to the USDA requesting additional funds be allocated to the biofuels industry through the Commodity Credit Corporation.” 

The New York Times: New research links air pollution to higher coronavirus death rates
“In an analysis of 3,080 counties in the United States, researchers at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that higher levels of the tiny, dangerous particles in air known as PM 2.5 were associated with higher death rates from the disease.”

 
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Your antibody questions, answered

Antibodies have been in the news lately—but what are they, and how can we use them to fight the coronavirus? 

What’s an antibody? In the simplest terms, it’s a blood protein produced by the immune system in response to a pathogen—such as the coronavirus. 

And antibodies can remain in the body for a long time—in some cases forever—allowing doctors to take a blood sample and determine whether an individual has been exposed to (or is immune to) a particular pathogen—like a fingerprint left behind at a crime scene. 

Many BIO members are researching how to use antibodies to treat COVID-19—from Amgen and Vir looking at antibodies to neutralize the virus, to SAB Biotherapeutics, which is using genetically engineered cows to produce human reagent antibodies to help diagnose and treat it.

More immediately, scientists think we can use antibody tests to determine who has been exposed to, or who is just immune to, the coronavirus—and allow those asymptomatic people to go back to work.

We talked about this on our podcast. In the latest episode of the I AM BIO podcast, The Antibody Test Shortage, BIO’s Jim Greenwood chatted with Jonathan Cohen, Founder, President, and CEO of 20/20 Gene Systems, which specializes in bio-testing. 

The company is at the forefront of early detection and testing using biotech innovations and AI—with tests for lung cancer, suspicious powders, tumors, and now, the coronavirus. 

CoronaCheck is a rapid, 15-minute test for COVID-19 antibodies in a blood sample to determine who has been exposed to the coronavirus and might be recovered or immune. 

Listen to learn more about how antibody tests work, when they’ll be available, and how they can help us learn more about the virus. You can listen on our website or anywhere you get your podcast fix including Apple, Google, and Spotify.

For more on what BIO members are doing on coronavirus, visit www.bio.org/coronavirus.

 

More Health Care News: 

Biopharma Dive: Inovio begins first human test of experimental coronavirus vaccine
“Inovio aims to recruit 40 people into its study and expects it could have initial immune response and safety data by late summer. Volunteers who enroll will receive two doses of Inovio's DNA-based vaccine, spaced one month apart.” 

Bloomberg: Everything must go right for big pharma’s bet on a fast vaccine
“This may sound like mission impossible, but Big Pharma wouldn’t be working this hard if it didn’t think it had a shot at pulling it off.” 

Reuters: Eli Lilly lowers insulin costs as coronavirus crisis deepens
“[I]t has capped the out-of-pocket cost for insulin to $35 per month to help diabetes patients across the United States.”

 
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President Trump’s Wednesday: He has a new press secretary. Today, he’s talking with state, local, and tribal leaders as well as faith leaders about COVID-19 response. The Coronavirus Task Force is scheduled to hold a press briefing at 5pm ET. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Still on the coronavirus recess, but House Democrats are scheduled to speak with VP Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force today. Meanwhile, the Senate is looking to pass billions more in relief for small businesses, possibly tomorrow.

 
 
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