Quick hits on clinical trials and what we mean by collaboration

March 31, 2020
We missed National Doctors Day yesterday, so we want to give a special shoutout to the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle, putting themselves and their families in danger to save patients’ lives. We’re working hard…

We missed National Doctors Day yesterday, so we want to give a special shoutout to the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle, putting themselves and their families in danger to save patients’ lives. We’re working hard to bring you the diagnostics, treatments, vaccines, and supplies you and your patients need, as quickly as possible.

Today, we’re taking a quick look at the impact of COVID-19 on clinical trials, as well as an example of collaboration across the industry on the coronavirus, in about 700 words, or 3-and-a-half minutes.

COVID-19 and clinical trials: a snapshot

So much information, so little time. If you missed our recent survey with BioCentury on how COVID-19 is affecting clinical trials, we’re here to help! David Thomas, BIO’s VP of Industry Analysis, has a snappy 2-minute video with the key points on where we’re seeing the most disruption—and what we can do about it.

To recap: Conducted between March 16-19, 2020, the survey asked 99 pharmaceutical and biotech companies about how COVID-19 is affecting their ongoing and planned clinical trials; 87% of companies surveyed are U.S. companies. 

81% of companies are experiencing issues running clinical trials, he says, with problems ranging from accessing trial sites to recruiting patients.   

Companies in the United States and Europe are most concerned—both with active trials, and with initiating new trials. 

What’s the solution? Companies are trying things like shifting to remote monitoring and telemedicine, explains Dave, but over the longer term, they’d like to see regulators provide guidance and greater flexibility with respect to data and how to coordinate trials. 

To help you deal with the information overload while you’re working from home, we’ll be using digital tools to bring you news and analysis you need—so stay tuned to bio.org/coronavirus and our YouTube channel

Read the BioCentury article on the survey.


More Health Care News: 

Morning Consult (Opinion): How Medicare Is Limiting Cancer Care for Seniors 
“Ensuring the widespread availability of innovative cancer care will require a coordinated effort between providers, advocates and policymakers alike.”

Biopharma Dive: J&J picks top coronavirus vaccine candidate; human tests to start in September
BIO member Johnson & Johnson has selected a lead vaccine candidate and expects to start clinical trials by September.

Bloomberg: How top scientists are racing to beat the coronavirus
“From Asia to Europe, North America, and Africa, infectious disease experts are trialing vaccines, developing new tests for the virus or devising innovative public health strategies to control the outbreak.” 

CNN (Opinion): What we at the FDA are doing to fight COVID-19
FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn discusses how the agency is providing “flexibility to those in the private sector who are stepping up by manufacturing critical medical products and distributing food supplies.” 


This is what we mean by industry collaboration

What do we mean when we talk about collaboration? Today, we want to highlight another BIO member, Twist Bioscience, which is using synbio to support companies in the health care space as we all do our part to battle the coronavirus.

Meet Twist Bioscience, the synthetic DNA company working to make tools to help researchers studying the novel coronavirus.

By manufacturing synthetic DNA, they eliminate the need for researchers to use the live virus, which is much safer all around. 

They’ve launched a number of new tools, like positive synthetic RNA controls to develop diagnostics and verify that they work, and an NGS target enrichment panel to amplify the viral material in samples of COVID-19-positive patients, allowing researchers to see how the virus is mutating and spreading around the world. 

They’re also working on a larger respiratory viral panel to test for many related viruses—SARS, COVID-19, MERS, influenza—which will be particularly useful once we are on the other side of the pandemic. 

This is what we mean by collaboration. As one example, they’re working with Inovio Pharmaceuticals, another BIO member, by contributing genetic material to support the company’s DNA medicine platform, as Twist explains.

And this is why we continue to facilitate collaboration—providing opportunities for the industry to meet virtually and share resources, so we can make these connections happen and get closer to treatments, vaccines, and diagnostics as quickly and safely as possible.

For more on biotech industry collaborations and how you can get involved, visit hub.bio.org.

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Tuesday: Today he’ll talk with network service providers. The Coronavirus Task Force is scheduled to hold a press briefing at 5pm ET.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: Social distancing in the districts continues—but it looks like a fourth stimulus package is already in the works. Meanwhile, U.S. Senators are urging a delay to the start date of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

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