Could an ‘extreme’ hibernating ground squirrel unlock new obesity treatments?

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In late 2023, Eli Lilly, whose stock is now up close to 80% over the past year, inked a deal with the Emeryville, California–based Fauna Bio potentially worth $494 million that focuses on the discovery of novel drug targets for treating obesity. In 2020, Fauna entered into an obesity-focused collaboration with Novo Nordisk, Lilly’s primary rival in the obesity treatment market. Coincidentally, Novo Nordisk’s stock is up more than 50% over the past year, thanks in large part to strong sales of the GLP-1 drugs Ozempic and Wegovy.

In the hunt for the next obesity blockbuster, both Lilly and Novo Nordisk are turning to Fauna Bio’s expertise in extreme mammal genomics. Among Fauna Bio’s focus areas is the 13-lined ground squirrel, an example of the company’s emphasis on “extreme mammals.” The squirrels are known for their remarkable metabolic transformations during hibernation that make them…

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Draper develop gum tissue model with Colgate-Palmolive that could pave way for biomedical research advances

Draper’s MOUTH model

In collaboration with Colgate-Palmolive, organ-on-a-chip developer Draper has unveiled a gum tissue model that can sustain gum tissue viability for up to 28 days. The timeline far exceeded that of previous models. The research was featured in Communications Biology, an imprint of Nature.

Else Vedula, a senior researcher at Draper, described the gum tissue model as a significant improvement over conventional models, given its ability to mimic in vivo conditions. The platform opens new horizons for testing the efficacy of treatments for oral diseases, according to Vedula. “The MOUTH model contains 96 microtissues on one plate with a month-long culture window, enabling many conditions to be evaluated while studying tissue response to products and therapies,” she explained.

The MOUTH model’s ability to offer real-time sensing provides high-resolution, non-invas…

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A timeline of data integrity scandals and other controversies in biomedical research

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While scientific progress hinges on data integrity, plagiarism, data fabrication and image manipulation and other biomedical research scandals are ongoing concerns. An article in Science recently made waves by revealing startling conclusions from the research of the German neuropsychologist Bernhard Sabel, who developed a fake-paper detector. Publishing his findings in a preprint, Sabel concluded that there were likely high proportions of falsified or plagiarized papers in neuroscience and medicine in 2020 (34% and 24% respectively). That figure is substantially higher than the findings of a 2009 study in PLOS One reporting that 2% of scientists acknowledged having fabricated, falsified or modified data or results at least one time in their career. The findings seem to indicate a troubling rise in data integrity scandals in medical research.

To arrive at the conclusion tha…

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Massachusetts is competing for ARPA-H biomedical research center

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The U.S. government is planning to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) to accelerate biomedical research.

The new federal research agency will not be based alongside its NIH parent in Bethesda, Maryland.

After winning authorization to create the agency, Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and several colleagues in Massachusetts are asking the Biden administration to locate the agency there.

The ARPA-H headquarters would also likely serve as a magnet for the broader life sciences industry.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Markey argues that Massachusetts is a premier biomedical research hub, given its talented workforce and network of elite universities, hospitals and research institutions.

“As ARPA-H seeks to accelerate medical breakthroughs and invest in high-risk, high-reward proj…

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