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July 7, 2021

PTF: time for UK plasma to shine

In this issue: Lifting the ban on UK-derived blood plasma, alternatives to shark squalene in vaccines, malaria treatments through the ages, and much more

By Eloise Mclennan

Pharma Technology Focus is now available on all devices. Read it for free here.

For more than 20 years, drugmakers in the UK have been forced to source blood plasma from overseas, thanks to an outbreak of the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the 1990s that saw a ban on the use of UK donated plasma in drug therapies. Consequently, the supply of immunoglobulin therapies has been limited, and the NHS has faced repeated plasma shortages.

As April saw people in the UK once again permitted to donated blood plasma for use in medical treatments. This decision will likely be welcomed by patient groups, but how will the move impact UK pharma? We find out.

While the subject of vaccines has been at the forefront of pharma development over the past year, the sector has been largely dominated by the fight to curb the spread of Covid-19. But outside of this bubble, work has been going on behind the scenes to develop a new drug that targets a different health threat: malaria. To learn more about this development, we explore the history of malaria treatments.

Plus, we examine alternatives to using shark squalene in vaccines, learn about a pharmaceutical solution to reduce the appearance of surgical scarring, and much more.

All this and more in this latest issue of Pharma Technology Focus.


In this issue

Malaria vaccines through the ages A novel malaria vaccine developed by researchers at the University of Oxford has proven 77% effective in early trials and could be a major breakthrough against the disease, which kills more than 400,000 people a year. Chloe Kent takes a look back at the history of malaria vaccine development. Read the article here.


Are competition authorities tightening the rules on pharma M&A?  The US Federal Trade Commission has initiated a multilateral working group to update standards and ensure that mergers and acquisitions in the pharma sector are properly regulated. The group will work to identify “concrete and actionable steps” to review and update the analysis of pharma mergers. Abi Millar profiles the implications of stricter enforcement in this area. Read the article here.


The fishy business of shark squalene Squalene, a fatty compound derived from the liver oil of sharks is commonly used to increase the efficacy of vaccines. But criticism is growing as activists are concerned about the use of shark liver oil in some Covid-19 jabs. Is it time to step up the search for alternatives? Darcy Jimenez finds out. Read the article here.


Without a trace: can pharma reduce scarring? Researchers at Stanford University might have solved the mystery of why we form scars and even found a drug that can prevent it. Natalie Healey speaks to Stanford’s Michael Longaker about his decades-long quest to understand this quirk of skin healing. Read the article here.


Blood plasma production: OK for the UK? Ever since the outbreak of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the UK in the 1990s, the country has banned drugmakers from using UK-sourced blood plasma in their therapies. This ban has now been lifted, following an extensive review of the safety evidence. Abi Millar looks into the risk-benefit analysis of freeing up the UK life sciences sector to produce blood plasma domestically once more. Read the article here.


When the drugs don’t work: can pharma keep up with mental health? From novel diagnoses to psychedelic drug treatments, Chloe Kent explores the pharmaceutical industry’s attempts to keep up with our understanding of mental health and neurodiversity. Read the article here.


Next issue preview

With Covid-19 vaccine programmes racing full steam ahead, we turn our attention to another vaccine debate, this time surrounding chickenpox. Although a safe and effective vaccine against the condition has been available since 1988 and is a common part of routine childhood vaccinations in the US, the UK Government has opted to forgo the treatment. But why is this? In the next issue of Pharma Technology Focus, we find out.

Also, we unpack the research behind Swiss pharma firm Ferring Pharmaceuticals’ potential microbiome breakthrough, explore the history of ALS treatments and examine the potential consequences facing manufacturers if a proposed vaccine patent waiver becomes a reality.

Plus, we learn more about the fight to combat black fungus in India as manufacturers in the country race to develop anti-fungal drugs amid growing case numbers, find out how light-sensing algae proteins are being used in a standout therapy for sight impairment and get the latest insight and analysis from GlobalData.

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