In this week's Dx Digest, Myriad Genetics struck a pair of companion diagnostics deals with pharma heavyweights Merck and AbbVie, Ambry Genetics cut the ribbon on a new genetic testing lab, and two Texas hospitals said that they are working on rapid diagnostics for the Zika virus.
While it doesn't yet market any products, Inovio continues to be the Zika vaccine front-runner, reporting that its experimental jab induced a "robust and durable" immune response in mice.
The mosquito-spread disease Zika could affect as many as 4 million people by the end of the year, according to the latest forecasts--a dire prediction that has the global animal health organization HealthforAnimals calling for a new approach to tackling diseases that cross species.
Seoul-based GeneOne Life Sciences is working with Inovio Pharmaceuticals on preclinical efforts to develop a vaccine to the Zika virus in a second collaboration between the firms that also joined hands on a Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, vaccine effort last year.
Zika developments continued at an accelerated pace this week with the WHO saying that India's Bharat Biotech and the U.S. National Institutes of Health are farthest along in vaccine development.
In this week's Dx Digest, Illumina inked a sequencing deal with California's 10x Genomics, Cofactor Genomics snatched up San Francisco's Narus Biotechnologies to get its hands on the company's RNA diagnostic tests for neurological diseases, and the Obama administration asked Congress for funds to improve diagnostics for the Zika epidemic.
As the Zika virus continues to spread, more biotechs are announcing their Zika vaccine programs. Meriden, CT-based Protein Sciences, Atlanta-based GeoVax Labs and Redwood City, CA-based PaxVax are the latest. PaxVax plans to bring its candidate to animal trials during the first half of this year, CEO Nima Farzan told FierceVaccines.
As the Zika epidemic rages on, health experts are calling for the development of blood tests that can quickly and accurately pinpoint the virus and shed light on an associated condition in infants.
Sanofi says it intends to apply its decades of vaccine development work and manufacturing expertise in dengue fever to try to create a vaccine for Zika virus, the mosquito-borne disease that the World Health Organization this week called a global health emergency.
The Zika virus currently on a rampage in the Americas could easily spread to Asia where other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria are already endemic and drugmakers in the region, and elsewhere, are racing to come up with a vaccine.