RoboPills & Sunscreen Smoothies
So, I’ve been on the road for the past two weeks: Dana Point, CA, Austin, TX, San Diego, CA.
It’s nice to be back home but it’s been a blast to be out and about. A few highlights just in case you don’t follow our LinkedIn.
You wish your booth looked this good. Chelsea Isaac, Laura Wilson, Isabella Schmitt, Grace Carrell, and Sean Bittner.
Me and Laura “left eye” Wilson at hotel prepping for bid defense in San Diego, CA. You should have seen the other CRO!
No Photoshop! Note: All three of them are supervisors and managers of people!!
Business Development Strategist Chelsea Isaac’s unbridled enthusiasm as I surprised the audience with our new employee spotlight video. If only you could have seen her face from my perspective on stage.
Chelsea, thank you making this video and for being the absolute best sport ever!!!
You’re one of the hardest working teams I’ve ever been around, and I love every minute I get to spend with you.
It was a blast to hang out with ALL of you over the last two weeks. Thanks for taking time away from your friends and family to help grow this organization!
And for the new folks that have joined our team recently, you’ve joined an extraordinary group of people! Take time to get to know them personally. It’ll be worth it.
...and always be smiling as you may end up in the newsletter.
And now the news-
The Ukrainian conflict and record-setting inflation have brought startup investors back to reality after last year. Global venture funding fell by $10B MoM.
Startup funding is still up YoY by $10B which is a 24% increase from last February. The Fed has scheduled six interest rate hikes this year already.
Ending Endoscopies Via Remote-Controlled PillBot
How far would you go to ensure your product works? Failure is a hard pill to swallow. (You knew we had to go there right? I mean, it’s almost obligatory.)
The folks over at Endiatx have created a remote-controlled, self-propelled, robotic pill with the ability to perform noninvasive endoscopies.
Controlled by an Xbox controller, the tiny robotic pill— which we are dubbing Doctor’s Little Helper— can swim through the stomach liquids without the need for anesthesia, sedation, or inflating the gut with air.
Having the CEO of your company sample your product isn’t the most conventional clinical trial, but Torrey Smith isn’t a conventional CEO.
However, his goals are.
Endiatx isn’t competing with passive pill cams. They’re competing with endoscopies. Smith and the rest of the team at Endiatx want to provide access— cheap, noninvasive access— to doctors, allowing them to peek at what’s going on inside a patient.
Torrey and the co-founders have downed 20 robotic pills and currently have their eyes set on FDA Class II device clearance— via 510(k)— and the next iteration of their robotic pills—robotic surgeon pills.
Getting funding has been difficult for Torrey. Not everyone is ready to hedge their bets on someone with a “maverick spirit.”
With high hopes for the global endoscopy market in the near and distant future, let’s see if Torrey and Ediatx can ride the wave into the green.
Drinkable Sunscreen Scorched By AG
A few newsletters ago we looked at promising research in the area of mRNa vaccines and skin cancer, but what if you could avoid the worries of skin cancer proactively by drinking your sunscreen…
Yeah, not happening.
An Irvine-based company is coughing up $42,500 after state prosecutors decided their “drinkable sunscreen” was misleading consumers with unproven medical claims. In my opinion, they should have added more based on the advertising alone. I mean seriously!!
UVO, created by Bobby Awadalla and Dermatology Industry Inc., was going for $5 a pop.
This article from 2015 showcases Awadalla and UVO. In the article, Awadalla claimed three months of clinical trials showed that one bottle of UVO provided three to five hours of protection.
It’s unclear how many bottles were sold, but the agreement with state prosecutors has caused UVO to stop all sales to avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation.
Seven years later and UVO’s luck has finally run out, leaving little to no protection from the sun and a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
Thanks to our Head of Communications and OC resident Jennifer Horspool for feeding this story!
LAG-3 Innovation In Immunotherapy
A new type of checkpoint inhibitor developed by Bristol Myers Squibb, known as relatlimab, is the first-of-its-kind to get OK from the Feds.
Relatlimab specifically blocks LAG-3 antibodies on T-cells, and it’s the first LAG-3 drug ever developed.
Like other checkpoint inhibitors, relatlimab will prevent the “off” signals that prevent T-cells from actively attacking cancer cells.
Administrated as a single intravenous infusion, the antibody treatment will be marketed as Opdualag— consisting of a fixed-dose combination of nivolumab and relatlimab— and will cost $27,389 per infusion.
The treatment is intended for patients with metastatic melanoma or melanoma where surgery is not an option.
Pharma Fallout With Russia
It’s been over a month since Russia invaded Ukraine, and while countless countries have imposed sanctions against Russia, Big Pharma’s also altered their approach in dealings with Russia.
However, when it comes to medicine and treatments, the answer to end drug distribution isn’t so cut and dry. Withholding from a country punishes the population that need essential drugs and treatments. There is a moral obligation here.
Here’s how Big Pharma’s handling it:
Pfizer - Stopping future investments in Russia and stopping any planned investments with businesses looking to build manufacturing capabilities there. Not running any clinical trials in Russia and stopping recruiting for any existing trials there, hoping to move existing trials to alternate sites. Pfizer provided $1 million in humanitarian grants for Ukraine and has pledged to donate all profits from its Russian subsidiary.
Sanofi – Suspending all advertising and media activities in Russia and ending any new spending not related to essential medicines and vaccines. Sanofi has donated more than $5 million in humanitarian grants.
Bayer – Stopping all "non-essential" business in Russia. Suspending advertising and investment in Russia but continuing to deliver essential goods. Bayer has donated more than $3 million to disaster relief. Bayer has also created a webpage, in which they call for an end to the war.
Other companies that have altered policy in light of the war have been: AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis and many others.
Some drugmakers are still business as usual in Russia.
Abbott Laboratories and J&J have corporate offices in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities. Both have condemned the war. Abbott donated $2 million to humanitarian efforts, and J&J donated $5 million to help provide humanitarian support for refugees in neighboring countries.
Click here if you’d like to donate to programs for children impacted by the war. A fellow Proximite challenged me to give, and so I did. How about you?
Looking forward to seeing you all at BioHouston Chili Cookoff this Friday!
RIP David Schubert. Will have some chili and a beverage for you!
Very truly yours,
P.S. – that awesome shirt I was wearing above with the twin turbos – one for each arm – can be picked up online or dropping in at Houston’s best performance tuning shop SZRpro, Dane Miller makes things go fast!
Upcoming Event - BioFest Invest
Presented by BioMedSA, Proxima CRO will be at BioFest Invest on March 30th, 2022, to talk to emerging MedTech and biotech companies. See you there!
Tune In To The Latest Episode of Inventing Tomorrow
Host Isabella Schmitt, RAC sits down with Ron Solar, CEO of ThermopeutiX, and Blythe Karow, Co-Founder and former CEO of Evren, to discuss the the importance of protecting your ideas.