Can CAR-T Therapies Be Made More Affordable and Accessible?

Category Biotechnology

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25 seconds

CAR-T therapies, which are typically reserved for patients who have exhausted other treatment options, can cost up to half a million dollars. Efforts are being made in countries like Brazil and India to make them more affordable through local manufacturing, and companies are developing new technologies to potentially make them more effective and cost-efficient. As demand continues to grow, finding ways to make CAR-T therapies more accessible is crucial.

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2 minutes, 18 seconds

CAR-T therapies have been hailed as a breakthrough in cancer treatment, with the ability to engineer a patient's own cells to fight the disease. However, these therapies come with a high price tag and are typically reserved for patients who have exhausted other options. Last week, the FDA approved Carvykti, a CAR-T product for multiple myeloma, as a second-line therapy, making it available to more patients. But for the vast majority of patients around the globe, CAR-T remains out of reach.

CAR-T therapies are typically reserved for patients who have exhausted other treatment options.

The reason for the high cost of CAR-T therapies is the lengthy and complex manufacturing process. T cells must be harvested from the patient and then engineered outside the body using a viral vector. This process, along with the patient undergoing chemotherapy to rid their body of existing T cells, can cost up to half a million dollars. However, some estimates put the true cost of CAR-T therapies at over a million dollars, when factoring in hospital time and care for adverse reactions.

The FDA recently approved a CAR-T product for multiple myeloma as a second-line therapy.

Efforts are being made to make CAR-T therapies more affordable and accessible. In countries like India, where the therapy was developed and tested, the lower cost of labor has helped to reduce the cost of CAR-T. In Brazil, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation has partnered with a US-based nonprofit to develop local manufacturing capabilities, with a potential cost of only $30,000. Additionally, companies are developing technologies such as in vivo strategies and fusion proteins, which could potentially make CAR-T therapies more effective and cost-efficient.

Creating CAR-T therapies is a multistep process that involves harvesting T cells from the patient and engineering them outside the body.

Despite these efforts, demand for CAR-T therapies often outweighs supply, leading to long wait times for patients. As pediatric oncologist Crystal Mackall pointed out, allowing doctors to make CAR-T therapies for their own patients may be a tempting solution. Companies such as Umoja Biopharma and Capstan Therapeutica are also exploring new approaches to CAR-T manufacturing, using techniques such as viral vectors and fusion proteins. InviCRO, a medical imaging company, is also offering services to companies looking to develop cell and gene therapies, potentially making the process more streamlined and cost-effective.

The cost of CAR-T therapies in the US can reach up to $600,000, but the true cost may be even higher.

As the demand for CAR-T therapies continues to grow, it is crucial to find ways to make these life-saving treatments more accessible and affordable for patients around the world.



Unseen Life: How Environmental DNA Is Revolutionizing Biology

Category Biotechnology

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24 seconds

Environmental DNA, or eDNA, is a revolutionary tool in biology that allows for the detection of all organisms present in an environment, not just the ones that can be grown in a lab. It has wide applications in ecology, public health, and forensic science, and has even been used to detect elusive or endangered species. However, it is not a foolproof method and still requires verification through traditional means.

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Plant-Powered Mining: How Renewable Energy Transition May Rely on Phytoextraction

Category Biotechnology

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29 seconds

The renewable energy transition is straining the supply chains for critical metals needed in green technologies. The US government is exploring the use of plants to mine for these metals through their root systems in a process called phytomining. The project, named PHYTOMINES, is initially focusing on nickel and aims to optimize the amount of metal these plants can absorb while also considering economic and environmental factors. This could secure a more diverse and sustainable source of materials for the renewable energy transition.

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A Glimmer of Hope: CAR T Cell Therapy Shows Promise in Battling Glioblastoma

Category Biotechnology

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Recently, two studies have shown potential for CAR T cell therapy in treating glioblastoma, a deadly and untreatable form of brain cancer. CAR T cell therapy has been successful in treating blood cancers since 2017 and works by genetically engineering T cells to better target cancer cells. While not a cure, the recent trials have shown promising results and give hope for future treatments.

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The Fatty Enigma: Investigating a New Culprit in Alzheimer's Disease

Category Biotechnology

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A recent study has uncovered a potential new culprit in Alzheimer's disease: fatty bubbles inside immune cells in the brain. These bubbles, which accumulate in those with a specific gene variant, may be linked to the development of the disease. This could open up new avenues for therapeutic development in the fight against Alzheimer's.

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Bringing Back Woolly Mammoths: The Potential Impact on Climate Change and Cancer Research

Category Biotechnology

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Bringing back Woolly Mammoths, and other extinct species, could have a real impact on slowing climate change and advancing cancer research. Their large size and weight would potentially prevent the release of millions of tons of CO2 each year, and studying their unique qualities could lead to improved cancer treatments. However, there are also ethical considerations and potential risks to consider in this field of science.

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Bringing Back the Mammoth: The Advancements in Using Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells to Resurrect Extinct Species

Category Biotechnology

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Despite the challenges of obtaining cells from endangered Asian elephants, biotechnology company Colossal has made a major breakthrough by successfully transforming elephant skin cells into stem cells. These induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) will be crucial in the project to bring back the woolly mammoth through gene editing and embryo implantation. The technology was first developed nearly two decades ago and has revolutionized biology, but has been especially difficult to apply to elephants.

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Revolutionary Science: Organoids Grown from Fetal Cells Could Change Prenatal Diagnoses

Category Biotechnology

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A groundbreaking discovery has been made in the field of organoids, with researchers successfully growing organoids from fetal cells found in amniotic fluid. This could revolutionize prenatal diagnoses by providing information about how fetal organs are developing. Lung organoids grown from fetal cells showed promising results, but more research is needed. Organoids grown from fetal cells could potentially improve prenatal diagnoses for conditions that affect organ function in the womb.

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Unintended Consequences: How Our Waste is Leading to the Evolution of Beneficial Bacteria

Category Biotechnology

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The popular diabetes medication metformin is also being studied for its potential to reduce inflammation, curb cancer, and slow the aging process. However, its widespread use has led to an unintended consequence – it's ending up in our wastewater and potentially affecting aquatic organisms. Researchers have identified the bacteria responsible for metabolizing metformin and are exploring ways to better remove micropollutants from wastewater using bacteria-based technologies.

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Hybrid Rice: The Future of Sustainable Protein

Category Biotechnology

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A team of Korean scientists has developed hybrid rice that is grown using beef muscle cells and fatty tissue. It has a light pink hue and a rich beefy umami flavor, and is packed with more carbohydrates, protein, and fat than normal rice. The hybrid rice is relatively easy to grow and surprisingly affordable, making it a potential solution to the urgent need for sustainable protein sources.

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Unlocking the World of Sound: A Breakthrough Gene Therapy Brings Hope to the Deaf Community

Category Biotechnology

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A groundbreaking gene therapy has successfully restored the hearing of an 11-year-old deaf boy, changing his world and offering hope to the deaf community. This therapy involves delivering a healthy copy of a mutated gene back into the body, and has shown promising results in its first clinical trial. With an estimated 466 million people worldwide suffering from disabling hearing loss, this breakthrough offers new possibilities for gene therapy and research.

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The Protein Revolution: Designing and Securing Custom Proteins with the Power of AI

Category Biotechnology

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AI has revolutionized custom protein design, unlocking countless new possibilities in medicine and biotechnology. However, with great power comes great responsibility, and the use of barcodes and biosecurity measures may be necessary to prevent misuse or potential risks to public health. Researchers in the field urge for careful consideration of ethical and safety issues as this technology continues to advance.

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Sustainable Cultivated Meat: The Future of Protein Production

Category Biotechnology

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Lab-grown meat, or cultivated meat, is a more sustainable and ethical alternative to traditional livestock farming. Researchers at Tufts University have found a way to reduce production costs by engineering cow muscle cells to produce growth factors themselves. While there are still some hurdles to overcome, this breakthrough could lead to affordable cultivated meat in supermarkets in the near future.

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The Ethics and Expanding Uses of Brain-Dead Bodies in Medical Research and Organ Donation

Category Biotechnology

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Brain-dead bodies are used for both organ donation and medical research experiments, particularly in the field of organ transplants using gene-edited pigs. Organizations like Gift of Life Donor Program play a crucial role in matching organs to recipients. Recent requests for brain-dead bodies have increased due to advancements in gene-editing technology. Contrary to popular belief, not all deaths are suitable for organ donation and it can only occur in the case of brain death while under medical care.

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The Brain-Fat Connection: How Neurons Control Body Fat and Aging

Category Biotechnology

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Body fat is not just a storage container for energy - it also produces hormones that play a role in aging. The brain has a significant impact on body fat and aging, with a study in mice showing a direct communication network between fat cells and neurons in the hypothalamus. By manipulating a protein in these neurons, researchers were able to extend the lifespan of aged mice and improve their physical activity levels. Maintaining the connection between the brain and body is crucial for healthy aging, and factors such as calorie restriction and exercise can help promote this connection.

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"Friger-liver": New Transplant Technology Saves Lives

Category Biotechnology

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The new "friger-liver" technology allows for the use of pig livers to temporarily support patients with acute liver failure, giving them time to recover until a human liver transplant becomes available.

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The First Gene-Editing Cure: CRISPR's Revolutionary Impact on Sickle-Cell Disease

Category Biotechnology

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CRISPR technology has brought the first gene-editing cure for sickle-cell disease, but high costs and complexity limit widespread access. Scientists are working on simpler and more affordable methods of delivery for this revolutionary therapy.

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The Ethical Challenges of Human-Animal Chimeras, Embryo Models, and In Vitro Brains

Category Biotechnology

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In September, scientists at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health announced they had successfully grown "humanized" kidneys inside pig embryos. The breakthrough suggests it may soon be possible to generate human organs inside part-human "chimeric" animals, but it also raises ethically fraught questions that require a new ethical framework. This requires us to go beyond simplistic categories and ask tough questions about what makes something "naturally" human, and when ethical considerations should come into play.

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Understanding the Real Risks of Head Injuries Through Technology

Category Biotechnology

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New measuring devices and sensors are being developed to detect head impacts and help protect soldiers and athletes from brain damage. The Impact Monitoring Mouthguard (IMM), developed by Prevent Biometrics, is being used to study Parachute Landing Falls (PLFs), finding that over 5% of jumps result in significant head impacts, about 30 times the published level of concussion in paratroopers.

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