Week of Sept. 25, 2023

This week we explore the development of a drug to grow teeth and the start of clinical trials for rabies vaccines. We also look at the labor shortage in biopharma manufacturing and Medicare’s solvency concerns. In addition, we highlight a survey which shows that artificial intelligence is the top area for investment for life sciences firms.

Each week we highlight five things affecting the life sciences industry. Here’s the latest.

A Japanese pharmaceutical startup has been working on a drug that would allow individuals to grow new teeth from tooth buds already in their mouths. While tooth buds typically disappear from one’s mouth, these buds have the potential to grow into a new tooth. The drug produced successful results in 2018 when injected into the tooth buds of mice and ferrets. According to Japan Times, the drug is expected to begin clinical trials on healthy adults in July 2024 to confirm the drug’s safety. If successful, phase two of the clinical trials will begin in 2025 with a primary focus on children between the ages of two to six who suffer from anodontia.

In a news release, YS Biopharma said that it had begun preparation for Phase 3 of its rabies vaccine trial by acquiring the first of its projected 4,500 testing subjects. Rabies is a viral disease that is particularly rampant in Asia and Africa. Untreated exposures result in an approximately 100% mortality rate, 40% of which occur in children under 15. YS Biopharma disclosed that this third phase will try to strengthen and accelerate the immunogenicity of its vaccine with its PIKA technology. As it stands, YS Biopharma’s vaccine carries a seven-day response time, making it the fastest-acting rabies vaccine on the market. At its current progression, YS Biopharma has the potential to meet the World Health Organization’s goal of creating an equally effective one-week rabies vaccine to replace three-week and four-week vaccines.

While the U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturing business grows approximately 6% annually, staffing has become a primary concern. Labiotech reports projections that by 2028, the life sciences sector’s job market will grow approximately 7% expanding the already present 60,000 placement vacancy. To reduce the gap, pharmaceutical companies have expanded recruitment beyond traditional biopharma hubs and partnered with schools in untraditional cities to create a pipeline program for specific employers. While cities like Charlotte, N.C., are popular for banking and commercial enterprises, they remain an untapped market of potential for new biopharma laborers. According to Labiotech, the pipeline programs will focus on developing necessary sector skills like good manufacturing practices, aseptic manufacturing, robotics expertise and automation expertise.

After the board of trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds’ analysis projected that the Medicare Fund could become insolvent by 2031, the Senate Budget Committee held a hearing to come up with a plan to ensure Medicare’s survival. While both Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Budget Committee shared opposing views on how to ensure solvency, both sides have declared that cuts to Social Security and Medicare were off the table. According to this Fierce Healthcare article, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ view that if the Medicare and Social Security Fair Share Act were to pass, Medicare would be solvent for 75 years.

Per Med-Tech News, the Pistoia Alliance, in collaboration with Open Pharma Research, has released the findings of a global survey that studied lab technology investment, its challenges and advantages. The survey, which involved 200 experts from Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific, revealed that 60% of respondents believe AI and machine learning will be the primary tech investments in the coming two years. Over half of the labs (54%) are already using AI/ML. However, the main challenges to AI implementation include low-quality datasets (58%), noncompliance with data science principles (36%), and concerns about data privacy and security (34%). The study also highlighted the potential of wearables, virtual reality and augmented reality in future labs, with 40% of participants expecting to use such technologies within two years.

For more insights in life sciences, check out RSM’s industry outlook.

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