Cuomo Revamps Marijuana Legalization Proposal

Cuomo will include a research initiative in new marijuana legalization proposal.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2019 proposal for legalizing adult-use cannabis failed, but he is revamping his plan by adding a research initiative. In his speech pushing for recreational marijuana legalization, the governor focused on a potential state-run research center for studying cannabinoid use-related risks. The SUNY Global Cannabis Center for Science, Research, and Education would be legally allowed to grow marijuana in order to study potential adverse effects of the medicinal use of cannabidiol and CBD, the non-psychoactive portion of the plant.

Currently, CBD products are unregulated and no clear answers exist as to their true medicinal benefits or potential hazards. The research center would focus on answering these questions, Cuomo said in a statement. “The federal government failed Americans with opioids, and we cannot allow that to happen with cannabinoids. Government must protect its citizens by taking an active role in running safety studies, in interpreting the data and communicating with its citizens. Until now, the cannabinoid industry has gone unregulated and unchecked, and there is a dearth of independent research on the science, the safety risks, and the dangers/benefits associated with its potential use.”

Cuomo’s briefing book revealed a plan for the SUNY research center that would start with studies on toxicity, bioavailability, and dosing mechanisms of medicinal cannabis products. A study will also attempt to reveal how these products interact with prescription medications, for which no data currently exists. This plan includes an open source database for drug interactions, accessible to anyone considering the use of cannabinoids. The rest of the 2020 marijuana legalization proposal included plans for recreational legalization above the age of 21, decriminalization of marijuana possession, taxation, and other hot topics of concern surrounding the legal marijuana industry.

BioMed X and Boehringer Start Schizophrenia Study

Boehringer Ingelheim will collaborate with BioMed X at its Innovation Center in Heidelberg to study a specific avenue in how schizophrenia develops as the adolescent brain matures. Current science tells us that as the brain matures, it goes through processes of reorganization. Schizophrenia research provides evidence that genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors negatively affect these balanced maturation processes during adolescence and cumulatively increase the risk for developing symptoms. This research collaboration will focus on deficits in the myelination maturation process, which have been observed in the brains of schizophrenia patients.

The pharma leaders hope to identify factors affecting myelination as potential new targets for schizophrenia prevention. “We are excited to further extend our collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim,” said Christian Tidona, Founder and Managing Director of BioMed X, in a statement. “This is already our fourth joint research group with Boehringer Ingelheim and our second in the field of psychiatric diseases. The new project will significantly extend our expertise and capabilities in the field of neurosciences.”

Digitas Health Named a “2020 Best Place to Work”

Advertising Ad dubbed the global connected-health company a “2020 Best Place to Work,” ranking 8th out of the top 25 companies with more than 200 employees. “At Digitas Health, we believe in possible futures. We believe we can create, design, and will futures not yet imagined that improve outcomes both for our clients and for people worldwide who need to make informed, confident decisions about their health,” said Eric Muller, President, Digitas Health, in a statement. “Being recognized as one of Ad Age’s Best Places to Work is a testament to our agency team, who are the very heart of that belief. They deserve all the credit for moving us forward with purpose.” The award considers Digitas’ commitment to making employee benefits, engagement, and development—as well as company culture and environment—integral parts of its DNA.

Janssen and Kaleido Set to Study Gut Microbiome and Childhood Disease

Janssen’s World Without Disease Accelerator and Kaleido Biosciences announced a research collaboration to explore the possibility of preventing the onset of childhood allergies and other atopic, immune, and metabolic conditions. The team aims to discover how to activate specific microbiome features which support an appropriate maturation of the infant immune system without such conditions.

Kaleido Biosciences will contribute its proprietary ex vivo screening platform to identify candidates for its Microbiome Metabolic Therapies (MMT™), which support the growth of specific beneficial microbes. These MMTs will then be further evaluated for their ability to prevent atopic conditions such as infant allergy. The idea is to drive the function and distribution of the microbiome organ’s existing microbes in order to decrease or increase the production of metabolites. This creates an environmental advantage or disadvantage for certain bacteria in the microbiome community.

“Research has shown the microbiome has the potential to impact a broad range of diseases, so the ability of our MMTs to drive the composition and function of the gut resident microbes could hold significant promise for improving health,” said Johan van Hylckama Vlieg, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Kaleido, in a statement. “We are excited to apply our platform and extend our research in microbiome-driven immune modulation into infant health together with Janssen. This program will build on and deepen our understanding of how MMTs promote the growth of beneficial microbes driving the gut ecosystem to support immune homeostasis and reduce the risk of onset for allergies, and other health conditions.”

7th Creative Floor Healthcare Awards Announced

The Creative Floor Healthcare Awards enters its seventh year celebrating the world’s best health and wellness creative, clients, and agency talent. This year, an online initiative that includes a mini-documentary called Diversity in Healthcare Advertising aims to promote and inspire more diversity within agencies. The awards continue to be the only health and wellness award show in the world to donate a percentage of profits towards a Talent & Diversity Fund.

To date, the fund has raised over $10,000 and continues to help usher underprivileged talent into healthcare communication agencies. Creative leaders such as the United Nations Foundation, Spotify, AMV BBDO, McCann Health, and Area 23 are joining The Creative Floor Healthcare Awards 2020. The judging panel represents the highest standard of creative talent in the industry, including George Lois, Nicholas Capanear of GSW, Debra Polkes of CDM, and other big influencers in healthcare marketing.

Veracyte and Acerta Enter Oncology Collaboration

Acerta Pharma, the hematology research and development arm of AstraZeneca, entered a multi-year agreement with Veracyte in order to receive genomic information that will support oncology therapeutics development. “We are excited to partner with Acerta Pharma and AstraZeneca, global leaders whose innovative medicines are benefitting millions of patients worldwide,” said Bonnie H. Anderson, Veracyte’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, in a statement. “This collaboration reflects the significant value we can bring to biopharmaceutical companies through our expanding global footprint, as well as our ability to potentially inform diagnosis and treatment decisions in new oncology indications.” Veracyte’s genomic data has recently become more valuable as it transitioned into a global company with the acquisition of the exclusive diagnostics rights to the NanoString nCounter. The global platform provides a comprehensive menu of advanced genomic tests in breast cancer and lymphoma.

AXIM Acquires Oncology R&D

A global leader in cannabinoid research and development, AXIM, has announced its acquisition of oncology research and development company Sapphire Biotech, Inc. Sapphire focuses on developing pioneering therapeutics for inhibiting cancer growth and metastasis, having discovered a novel compound that inhibits and suppresses invasion in vitro and metastasis in vivo. AXIM and Sapphire researchers have been collaborating on the development of new synthetic cannabinoid-like molecules with potential to treat symptoms of a wide range of diseases, including cancer.

With preclinical data emerging that indicates cannabinoids can affect the growth and progression of tumors, AXIM focuses on the discovery and development of therapeutic molecules that are similar to cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG). The aim is to create therapeutics with the chemical efficacy of cannabinoid molecules that will be more potent, more bioavailable, safer, and more effective.

“Sapphire is honored to have the opportunity to continue our flagship research on oncology therapeutics and diagnostics while also expanding into the world of cannabinoids under the leadership of AXIM Biotech,” Catalina Valencia, Chief Executive Officer of Sapphire Biotech, said in a statement. “Ninety percent of cancer deaths are due to metastasis, but few, if any, drugs target any steps in the metastatic process. Our scientists at Sapphire are aiming to slow down this death rate through their specific emphasis on metastasis and positive early findings.”

With Sapphire’s expertise in therapeutics for cancer inhibition, the team hopes to develop proprietary molecules and potential treatments for numerous diseases.

Oklahoma Pursues Opioid Case Against Distributors

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter filed a lawsuit against three major opioid distributors—Cardinal Health Inc., AmerisourceBergen Corp., McKesson Corp. and related entities—for oversupplying the state with painkillers that have contributed to the opioid abuse epidemic.

Hunter is bringing his case back to the Cleveland County District Court where he won a $465 million verdict last year against opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries. The attorney general’s success in the opioid justice arena also includes a $270 million settlement reached by Purdue Pharma, an $85 million settlement by Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., and an $8.75 million settlement by Endo Pharmaceuticals. While the lawsuits Hunter brought against manufacturers aimed to earn money for abating the opioid crisis, the lawsuit filed against these three distributors will seek money to pay for past damages.

The Attorney General points out that while the three companies settled at $215 million last October to two Ohio counties with about 1.7 million people, the damages must be adjusted to the population of four million in Oklahoma. More than 6,000 Oklahomans have died due to opioid overdoses since 2000.


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