Hello and happy Monday, readers! I hope you had a wonderful weekend.
Last year, Feng Zhang, one of the pioneering minds behind CRISPR gene-editing technology, and a number of colleagues launched yet another startup in the space called Beam Therapeutics. Less than a year and a half later, the company is already plotting an IPO.
Beam has filed initial paperwork for a public offering aiming to raise $100 million, according to a new SEC filing, making it the latest genomic specialist to join the cascade of IPOs in the space. Previously, companies like (the aptly named) CRISPR Therapeutics, Editas Medicine, Intellia Therapeutics, and others—all involved in the CRISPR space, albeit with various academic partners—had already hopped on the IPO bandwagon.
The Beam Therapeutics founders believe their technology can go one step beyond what “traditional” CRISPR already does (there is, of course, nothing quite traditional about slicing and dicing DNA). Beam’s “base-editing” system aims to make even more precise tweaks to our genetic building blocks—think of it as molecular scalpels rather than shears.
This is all fascinating science. But it’s worth noting that none of these companies, public or otherwise, have proven that CRISPR’s potential actually works in real human beings in a clinical trial setting. Those studies are just getting started. The money, it seems, isn’t waiting for the science.
Read on for the day’s news.
Why Best Buy’s CEO is betting on health care tech. Best Buy chief executive Corie Barry is joining fellow retailers and getting into the health care game. In Barry’s case, my colleague Phil Wahba explains, the major target is health tech and its use by older consumers. “Barry, a key architect of Best Buy’s stunning turnaround in recent years under her predecessor Hubert Joly, told Wall Street analysts she wants people to think of the company as ‘the chief technology officer for your home’ for everything from troubleshooting a faulty home WiFi system to sending alerts if, say, a senior hasn’t opened the refrigerator in some time, and therefore eating sufficiently,” Phil reports. (Fortune)
CVS pulls popular heart burn drug over cancer concerns. The popular heartburn drug Zantac has lost another major retailer. This time, it’s CVS, which is pulling the medication (as well as its generic store-brand variants) from its shelves over potential cancer concerns prompted by the Food and Drug Administration. “CVS Pharmacy has suspended the sale of all Zantac brand and CVS Health brand ranitidine products until further notice,” the company said in a statement. “This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution due to a recent Product Alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that ranitidine products may contain a low level of nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which is a probable human carcinogen.” Other chains such as Walgreens and Walmart have taken similar action. (Fortune)
AstraZeneca, Merck cheer results for cancer drug Lynparza. The cancer drug treatment Lynparza, from AstraZeneca and partner Merck, showed significant promise in treating prostate cancer in new study results presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) annual meeting. The companies announced data showing that Lynparza—a “PARP inhibitor” currently approved to treat forms of advanced ovarian cancer—could be effective in halting prostate cancer’s progression in some of the hardest-to-treat patients.
THE BIG PICTURE
Trump administration pushes to expand wellness programs. The Trump administration is slated to bring one of the Affordable Care Act’s more controversial provisions—wellness programs to incentivize health—to the individual insurance market. Under the proposal, 10 states could apply to bring pilot wellness projects to their individual insurance exchanges with the goal of providing “plans that provide people with direct incentives to make healthier choices and achieve better health outcomes.” Why might this prove controversial to some experts? Well, there’s just not a whole lot of evidence (to date, at least) that these sorts of wellness programs have been all that effective, despite a bipartisan drive to promote them.
Verizon Acquires Jaunt XR’s Augmented Reality Technology, by Aric Jenkins
How Starbucks Got Its Buzz Back, by Beth Kowitt
Google and Copyright ‘Blackmail’, by Jeff John Roberts
Big Tobacco 2.0: The Legal Fight Against Vaping Is Just Beginning, by Sy Mukherjee
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