This week in drug discovery (28 February – 4 March) 

News round-up by DDW’s Megan Thomas for 28 February – 4 March, 2022 

DDW has rounded up five news stories that showcase the international breakthroughs, approvals, alliances and research findings that pave the way for life-saving treatments in the future.

1. First live biotherapeutic approved to treat Parkinson’s disease 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared investigational new drug (IND) applications for MRx0005 and MRx0029, two 4D Pharma Live Biotherapeutics (LBPs). The company expects to initiate a first-in-human Phase I clinical trial in people with Parkinson’s disease in mid-2022. 

2. European Clinical Research Alliance for Infectious Diseases created 

In January 2022, European Clinical Research Alliance for Infectious Diseases (Ecraid) became a legal entity and is now fully operational to advance knowledge in the field of infectious diseases. This is Ecraid’s initial step as it evolves into a self-sustaining, not-for-profit organisation conducting clinical research for both public and private sponsors. 

3. Is this plant-based therapy a Covid cure? 

The startup company Novel Concepts Medical has announced breakthroughs in its research of Covid-19, which include stopping Covid-19, the Omicron Variant, and long Covid-19 symptoms, including memory loss.   

4. Middle Eastern cancer genetic analysis offers inherited cancer findings 

A new study by Qatar Foundation researchers from the Qatar Genome Research Consortium and Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar has reported the first landscape of cancer germline variation – known as inherited cancer – in the Middle East. 

5. Collaborators leverage AI to enable improved pivotal clinical trials 

Unlearn has entered into a multi-year collaboration with Merck to accelerate late-stage clinical trials with novel trial designs that include Digital Twins. Initially, the collaboration will focus on advancing the regulatory approval of candidates in Merck’s immunology pipeline, with the potential to expand into other therapeutic areas. 


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