Fighting HIV using anti-cancer immunotherapy

February 21, 2019 | 85 views

Researchers at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) have shown that immunotherapy treatments against cancer could reduce the amount of virus that persists in people on triple therapy. The study revealed how these therapies reveal the virus in the cells of people living with HIV – until now hidden in the hollows of infected cells – to the immune system.

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Top 10 biotech IPOs in 2019

Article | September 22, 2022

The big question at the start of 2019 was whether the IPO window would stay open for biotech companies, particularly those seeking to pull off ever-larger IPOs at increasingly earlier stages of development. The short answer is yes—kind of. Here’s the long answer: In the words of Renaissance Capital, the IPO market had “a mostly good year.” The total number of deals fell to 159 from 192 the year before, but technology and healthcare companies were standout performers. The latter—which include biotech, medtech and diagnostics companies—led the pack, making up 43% of all IPOs in 2019. By Renaissance’s count, seven companies went public at valuations exceeding $1 billion, up from five the year before

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MEDICAL

Cell Out? Lysate-Based Expression an Option for Personalized Meds

Article | July 14, 2022

Cell-free expression (CFE) is the practice of making a protein without using a living cell. In contrast with cell line-based methods, production is achieved using a fluid containing biological components extracted from a cell, i.e., a lysate. CFE offers potential advantages for biopharma according to Philip Probert, PhD, a senior scientist at the Centre for Process Innovation in the U.K.

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MEDTECH

Closing bacterial genomes from the human gut microbiome using long-read sequencing

Article | July 11, 2022

In our lab, we focus on the impact of the gut microbiome on human health and disease. To evaluate this relationship, it’s important to understand the particular functions that different bacteria have. As bacteria are able to exchange, duplicate, and rearrange their genes in ways that directly affect their phenotypes, complete bacterial genomes assembled directly from human samples are essential to understand the strain variation and potential functions of the bacteria we host. Advances in the microbiome space have allowed for the de novo assembly of microbial genomes directly from metagenomes via short-read sequencing, assembly of reads into contigs, and binning of contigs into putative genome drafts. This is advantageous because it allows us to discover microbes without culturing them, directly from human samples and without reference databases. In the past year, there have been a number of tour de force efforts to broadly characterize the human gut microbiota through the creation of such metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs)[1–4]. These works have produced hundreds of thousands of microbial genomes that vastly increase our understanding of the human gut. However, challenges in the assembly of short reads has limited our ability to correctly assemble repeated genomic elements and place them into genomic context. Thus, existing MAGs are often fragmented and do not include mobile genetic elements, 16S rRNA sequences, and other elements that are repeated or have high identity within and across bacterial genomes.

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Selexis Cell Line Development Strategies

Article | February 11, 2020

In today’s biotechnology landscape, to be competitive, meet regulations, and achieve market demands, “we must apply Bioprocessing 4.0,” said Igor Fisch, PhD, CEO, Selexis. In fact, in the last decade, “Selexis has evolved from cloning by limiting dilution to automated cell selection to nanofluidic chips and from monoclonality assessment by statistical calculation to proprietary bioinformatic analysis,” he added. Single-use processing systems are an expanding part of the biomanufacturing world; as such, they are a major component of Bioprocessing 4.0. “At Selexis, we use single use throughout our cell line development workflow. Currently, we have incorporated single-use automated bioprocessing systems such as ambr® and the Beacon® optofluidic platform for accelerated cell line development. By using these systems and optimizing our parameters, we were able to achieve high titers in shake flasks. Additionally, the Beacon systems integrate miniaturized cell culture with high-throughput liquid handling automation and cell imaging. This allows us to control, adjust, and monitor programs at the same time,” noted Fisch.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT, MEDICAL

Moderna and Generation Bio Announce Strategic Collaboration to Develop Non-Viral Genetic Medicines

Accesswire | March 24, 2023

Moderna, Inc. a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA therapeutics and vaccines, and Generation Bio Co. a biotechnology company innovating genetic medicines for people living with rare and prevalent diseases, today announced that the two companies have entered into a strategic collaboration to combine Moderna's biological and technical expertise with core technologies of Generation Bio's non-viral genetic medicine platform. The collaboration aims to expand the application of each company's platform by developing novel nucleic acid therapeutics, including those capable of reaching immune cells, to accelerate their respective pipelines of non-viral genetic medicines. "Moderna continues to invest in innovative technology to enable us to develop a breadth of transformative medicines for patients," said Rose Loughlin, Ph.D., Moderna's Senior Vice President for Research and Early Development. "Through this collaboration, which builds on Generation Bio's non-viral genetic medicines platform, we have the potential to target immune cells with diverse nucleic acid cargos and the liver for gene replacement. We are excited to have Generation Bio as our partner as we continue to broaden our therapeutic pipeline and extend the potential benefit of nucleic acid therapeutics to more patients." "Non-viral DNA therapeutics may offer durable, redosable, titratable genetic medicines to patients suffering from rare and prevalent diseases on a global scale," said Phillip Samayoa, Ph.D., Chief Strategy Officer of Generation Bio. "This collaboration represents a foundational investment in our platform science, both deepening our pipeline of rare and prevalent liver disease programs beyond hemophilia A and accelerating our work to reach outside of the liver with nucleic acid therapies. We are thrilled to collaborate with Moderna to extend genetic medicines to new tissues and cell types through the joint development of novel targeting for our stealth ctLNPs to reach immune cells." About the Collaboration Under the terms of the agreement, Moderna may advance two immune cell programs, each of which may use a jointly developed ctLNP to deliver ceDNA. In addition, Moderna may advance two liver programs, each of which may use a liver-targeted ctLNP developed by Generation Bio to deliver ceDNA. Moderna retains an option to license a third program for either immune cells or the liver. Generation Bio will receive a $40 million upfront cash payment and a $36 million equity investment issued at a premium over recent share prices. Moderna will fund all collaboration work, including a research pre-payment. Generation Bio is also eligible for future development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments, as well as royalties on global net sales of liver-targeted and immune cell-targeted products commercialized under the agreement. The agreement additionally provides Moderna with the right, subject to certain terms and conditions, to purchase additional shares of common stock in connection with a future equity financing by Generation Bio. Further, Moderna and Generation Bio will both leverage collaboration research to continue to advance in vivo immune cell targeting as a new class of genetic medicines, with downstream economics on products utilizing such technology. Generation Bio is eligible to receive certain exclusivity fees as well as potential development and regulatory milestones and royalties on products that Moderna advances using ctLNP technology developed under the collaboration. About Moderna In over 10 years since its inception, Moderna has transformed from a research-stage company advancing programs in the field of messenger RNA (mRNA), to an enterprise with a diverse clinical portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics across seven modalities, a broad intellectual property portfolio in areas including mRNA and lipid nanoparticle formulation, and an integrated manufacturing plant that allows for rapid clinical and commercial production at scale. Moderna maintains alliances with a broad range of domestic and overseas government and commercial collaborators, which has allowed for the pursuit of both groundbreaking science and rapid scaling of manufacturing. Most recently, Moderna's capabilities have come together to allow the authorized use and approval of one of the earliest and most effective vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic. Moderna's mRNA platform builds on continuous advances in basic and applied mRNA science, delivery technology and manufacturing, and has allowed the development of therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases and auto-immune diseases. Moderna has been named a top biopharmaceutical employer by Science for the past eight years.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT, DIAGNOSTICS

AbCellera and RQ Bio Partner to Accelerate the Advancement of New Therapies for Infectious Disease

businesswire | March 23, 2023

AbCellera and RQ Bio announced today that they have entered into a strategic collaboration to identify optimal clinical candidates for up to three infectious disease targets selected by RQ Bio, including influenza and cytomegalovirus (CMV). The partnership aims to provide long-lasting infectious diseases medicines to high-risk patients by bringing together RQ Bio’s expertise in infectious diseases and viral evolution with AbCellera’s discovery engine for finding rare, highly potent antibodies. “We believe antibody therapies have an important role to play in protecting the most clinically at-risk populations from infectious diseases,” said Carl Hansen, Ph.D., founder and CEO of AbCellera. “AbCellera’s discovery engine complements RQ Bio’s capabilities and provides a technology advantage that we believe will help bring new medicines for infectious disease to patients faster.” “Both RQ Bio and AbCellera have proven track records in developing infectious disease medicines that have a rapid impact on vulnerable patients,” said Hugo Fry, CEO of RQ Bio. “We look forward to working with AbCellera to quickly advance our pipeline of infectious disease medicines for people who are at risk of severe disease or death from viral infections.” Under the terms of the agreement, RQ Bio has the right to develop and commercialize therapeutic antibodies resulting from the collaboration. AbCellera will receive research payments and is eligible to receive downstream clinical and regulatory milestone payments and royalties on net sales of products. About AbCellera Biologics Inc. AbCellera is breaking the barriers of conventional antibody drug discovery to bring better medicines to patients, sooner. AbCellera’s engine integrates expert teams, technology, and facilities with the data science and automation needed to propel antibody-based medicines from target to clinic in nearly every therapeutic area with precision and speed. AbCellera provides innovative biotechs and leading pharmaceutical companies with a competitive advantage that empowers them to move quickly, reduce cost, and tackle the toughest problems in drug development.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT, DIAGNOSTICS

Vaxxinity Announces First Subjects Dosed in Phase 1 Clinical Trial of VXX-401, Investigational Anti-PCSK9 Vaccine to Treat Hypercholesterolemia

Vaxxinity, Inc. | March 21, 2023

Vaxxinity, Inc. a U.S. company pioneering the development of a new class of immunotherapeutic vaccines, announced that the first subjects have been dosed in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 1 clinical trial of VXX-401, an investigational vaccine designed to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, a known factor contributing to heart disease, by targeting proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 serine protease (PCSK9). Heart disease remains the leading cause of death globally, claiming over 18 million lives per year, despite the existence of approved treatments that lower LDL. “This is an exciting milestone for VXX-401 and Vaxxinity in our pursuit to vaccinate the world against heart disease with a preventative option that is convenient and accessible, addressing an unmet need to combat the leading global cause of death,” said Mei Mei Hu, Chief Executive Officer of Vaxxinity. “PCSK9 antibody therapies are well-tolerated and effective, but huge unmet patient need remains. In order to solve the problem of heart disease, the world needs a scalable, accessible technology that can reach the hundreds of millions, if not billions of people at risk. With an LDL-lowering vaccine we can potentially offer an option that’s cost-effective, safe, convenient, long-acting, and deployable.” The multicenter Phase 1 dose-escalation trial aims to enroll 48 subjects aged 18 to 75 years, with LDL cholesterol between 2.59 and 4.89 mmol/L. The objectives of the trial are to evaluate safety, tolerability and immunogenicity (as measured by serum anti-PCSK9 antibody titers). Pharmacodynamics of the immune response will be measured by LDL cholesterol levels, an established model of PCSK9 inhibition in hypercholesterolemia. “We’re excited to get this first-in-human trial of VXX-401 started. The concept of a vaccine for cholesterol could be a game-changer in cardiovascular health due to its potentially very broad reach and impact on human health,” said Professor Stephen Nicholls of Monash University and Victorian Heart Hospital in Australia. “Targeting PCSK9 with a monoclonal antibody is a proven and effective approach for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Despite the availability of statins and the approval of PCSK9-targeting medicines, there is still a need for new therapies. VXX-401 has the potential to extend the use of PCSK9 inhibition to the full population who could benefit.” Earlier this month, Vaxxinity presented pre-clinical data at the American College of Cardiology/World Congress of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session demonstrating that VXX-401 induced robust anti-PCSK9 antibodies and durable LDL cholesterol lowering without affecting high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, indicating that VXX-401 has the potential to be a safe and effective LDL lowering therapy. Data in non-human primate studies show that VXX-401 was well tolerated and provided durable and significant LDL reduction of 30% to 50% change from baseline. The data also demonstrate VXX-401’s immunogenicity: purified antibodies from immunized animals bound to human PCSK9 with high affinity, and exhibited a dose-dependent functional inhibition of PCSK9 in vitro. Additionally, Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs) collected prior to immunization did not release cytokines upon stimulation with various components of the vaccine, suggesting that VXX-401 may safely overcome immune tolerance. About VXX-401 VXX-401 was designed using Vaxxinity’s proprietary synthetic peptide vaccine platform and is being developed for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. The platform is designed to harness the immune system to convert the body into its own natural “drug factory,” stimulating the production of antibodies. VXX-401 is designed to induce robust, long-acting antibodies against PCSK9 in order to lower LDL cholesterol. About Vaxxinity Vaxxinity, Inc. is a purpose-driven biotechnology company committed to democratizing healthcare across the globe. The company is pioneering a new class of synthetic, peptide-based immunotherapeutic vaccines aimed at disrupting the existing treatment paradigm for chronic disease, increasingly dominated by monoclonal antibodies, which suffer from prohibitive costs and cumbersome administration. The company’s proprietary technology platform has enabled the innovation of novel pipeline candidates designed to bring the efficiency of vaccines to the treatment of chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, migraine, and hypercholesterolemia. The technology is also implemented as part of a COVID-19 vaccine program. Vaxxinity has optimized its pipeline to achieve a potentially historic, global impact on human health.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT, MEDICAL

Moderna and Generation Bio Announce Strategic Collaboration to Develop Non-Viral Genetic Medicines

Accesswire | March 24, 2023

Moderna, Inc. a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA therapeutics and vaccines, and Generation Bio Co. a biotechnology company innovating genetic medicines for people living with rare and prevalent diseases, today announced that the two companies have entered into a strategic collaboration to combine Moderna's biological and technical expertise with core technologies of Generation Bio's non-viral genetic medicine platform. The collaboration aims to expand the application of each company's platform by developing novel nucleic acid therapeutics, including those capable of reaching immune cells, to accelerate their respective pipelines of non-viral genetic medicines. "Moderna continues to invest in innovative technology to enable us to develop a breadth of transformative medicines for patients," said Rose Loughlin, Ph.D., Moderna's Senior Vice President for Research and Early Development. "Through this collaboration, which builds on Generation Bio's non-viral genetic medicines platform, we have the potential to target immune cells with diverse nucleic acid cargos and the liver for gene replacement. We are excited to have Generation Bio as our partner as we continue to broaden our therapeutic pipeline and extend the potential benefit of nucleic acid therapeutics to more patients." "Non-viral DNA therapeutics may offer durable, redosable, titratable genetic medicines to patients suffering from rare and prevalent diseases on a global scale," said Phillip Samayoa, Ph.D., Chief Strategy Officer of Generation Bio. "This collaboration represents a foundational investment in our platform science, both deepening our pipeline of rare and prevalent liver disease programs beyond hemophilia A and accelerating our work to reach outside of the liver with nucleic acid therapies. We are thrilled to collaborate with Moderna to extend genetic medicines to new tissues and cell types through the joint development of novel targeting for our stealth ctLNPs to reach immune cells." About the Collaboration Under the terms of the agreement, Moderna may advance two immune cell programs, each of which may use a jointly developed ctLNP to deliver ceDNA. In addition, Moderna may advance two liver programs, each of which may use a liver-targeted ctLNP developed by Generation Bio to deliver ceDNA. Moderna retains an option to license a third program for either immune cells or the liver. Generation Bio will receive a $40 million upfront cash payment and a $36 million equity investment issued at a premium over recent share prices. Moderna will fund all collaboration work, including a research pre-payment. Generation Bio is also eligible for future development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments, as well as royalties on global net sales of liver-targeted and immune cell-targeted products commercialized under the agreement. The agreement additionally provides Moderna with the right, subject to certain terms and conditions, to purchase additional shares of common stock in connection with a future equity financing by Generation Bio. Further, Moderna and Generation Bio will both leverage collaboration research to continue to advance in vivo immune cell targeting as a new class of genetic medicines, with downstream economics on products utilizing such technology. Generation Bio is eligible to receive certain exclusivity fees as well as potential development and regulatory milestones and royalties on products that Moderna advances using ctLNP technology developed under the collaboration. About Moderna In over 10 years since its inception, Moderna has transformed from a research-stage company advancing programs in the field of messenger RNA (mRNA), to an enterprise with a diverse clinical portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics across seven modalities, a broad intellectual property portfolio in areas including mRNA and lipid nanoparticle formulation, and an integrated manufacturing plant that allows for rapid clinical and commercial production at scale. Moderna maintains alliances with a broad range of domestic and overseas government and commercial collaborators, which has allowed for the pursuit of both groundbreaking science and rapid scaling of manufacturing. Most recently, Moderna's capabilities have come together to allow the authorized use and approval of one of the earliest and most effective vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic. Moderna's mRNA platform builds on continuous advances in basic and applied mRNA science, delivery technology and manufacturing, and has allowed the development of therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases and auto-immune diseases. Moderna has been named a top biopharmaceutical employer by Science for the past eight years.

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INDUSTRIAL IMPACT, DIAGNOSTICS

AbCellera and RQ Bio Partner to Accelerate the Advancement of New Therapies for Infectious Disease

businesswire | March 23, 2023

AbCellera and RQ Bio announced today that they have entered into a strategic collaboration to identify optimal clinical candidates for up to three infectious disease targets selected by RQ Bio, including influenza and cytomegalovirus (CMV). The partnership aims to provide long-lasting infectious diseases medicines to high-risk patients by bringing together RQ Bio’s expertise in infectious diseases and viral evolution with AbCellera’s discovery engine for finding rare, highly potent antibodies. “We believe antibody therapies have an important role to play in protecting the most clinically at-risk populations from infectious diseases,” said Carl Hansen, Ph.D., founder and CEO of AbCellera. “AbCellera’s discovery engine complements RQ Bio’s capabilities and provides a technology advantage that we believe will help bring new medicines for infectious disease to patients faster.” “Both RQ Bio and AbCellera have proven track records in developing infectious disease medicines that have a rapid impact on vulnerable patients,” said Hugo Fry, CEO of RQ Bio. “We look forward to working with AbCellera to quickly advance our pipeline of infectious disease medicines for people who are at risk of severe disease or death from viral infections.” Under the terms of the agreement, RQ Bio has the right to develop and commercialize therapeutic antibodies resulting from the collaboration. AbCellera will receive research payments and is eligible to receive downstream clinical and regulatory milestone payments and royalties on net sales of products. About AbCellera Biologics Inc. AbCellera is breaking the barriers of conventional antibody drug discovery to bring better medicines to patients, sooner. AbCellera’s engine integrates expert teams, technology, and facilities with the data science and automation needed to propel antibody-based medicines from target to clinic in nearly every therapeutic area with precision and speed. AbCellera provides innovative biotechs and leading pharmaceutical companies with a competitive advantage that empowers them to move quickly, reduce cost, and tackle the toughest problems in drug development.

Read More

INDUSTRIAL IMPACT, DIAGNOSTICS

Vaxxinity Announces First Subjects Dosed in Phase 1 Clinical Trial of VXX-401, Investigational Anti-PCSK9 Vaccine to Treat Hypercholesterolemia

Vaxxinity, Inc. | March 21, 2023

Vaxxinity, Inc. a U.S. company pioneering the development of a new class of immunotherapeutic vaccines, announced that the first subjects have been dosed in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 1 clinical trial of VXX-401, an investigational vaccine designed to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, a known factor contributing to heart disease, by targeting proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 serine protease (PCSK9). Heart disease remains the leading cause of death globally, claiming over 18 million lives per year, despite the existence of approved treatments that lower LDL. “This is an exciting milestone for VXX-401 and Vaxxinity in our pursuit to vaccinate the world against heart disease with a preventative option that is convenient and accessible, addressing an unmet need to combat the leading global cause of death,” said Mei Mei Hu, Chief Executive Officer of Vaxxinity. “PCSK9 antibody therapies are well-tolerated and effective, but huge unmet patient need remains. In order to solve the problem of heart disease, the world needs a scalable, accessible technology that can reach the hundreds of millions, if not billions of people at risk. With an LDL-lowering vaccine we can potentially offer an option that’s cost-effective, safe, convenient, long-acting, and deployable.” The multicenter Phase 1 dose-escalation trial aims to enroll 48 subjects aged 18 to 75 years, with LDL cholesterol between 2.59 and 4.89 mmol/L. The objectives of the trial are to evaluate safety, tolerability and immunogenicity (as measured by serum anti-PCSK9 antibody titers). Pharmacodynamics of the immune response will be measured by LDL cholesterol levels, an established model of PCSK9 inhibition in hypercholesterolemia. “We’re excited to get this first-in-human trial of VXX-401 started. The concept of a vaccine for cholesterol could be a game-changer in cardiovascular health due to its potentially very broad reach and impact on human health,” said Professor Stephen Nicholls of Monash University and Victorian Heart Hospital in Australia. “Targeting PCSK9 with a monoclonal antibody is a proven and effective approach for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Despite the availability of statins and the approval of PCSK9-targeting medicines, there is still a need for new therapies. VXX-401 has the potential to extend the use of PCSK9 inhibition to the full population who could benefit.” Earlier this month, Vaxxinity presented pre-clinical data at the American College of Cardiology/World Congress of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session demonstrating that VXX-401 induced robust anti-PCSK9 antibodies and durable LDL cholesterol lowering without affecting high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, indicating that VXX-401 has the potential to be a safe and effective LDL lowering therapy. Data in non-human primate studies show that VXX-401 was well tolerated and provided durable and significant LDL reduction of 30% to 50% change from baseline. The data also demonstrate VXX-401’s immunogenicity: purified antibodies from immunized animals bound to human PCSK9 with high affinity, and exhibited a dose-dependent functional inhibition of PCSK9 in vitro. Additionally, Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs) collected prior to immunization did not release cytokines upon stimulation with various components of the vaccine, suggesting that VXX-401 may safely overcome immune tolerance. About VXX-401 VXX-401 was designed using Vaxxinity’s proprietary synthetic peptide vaccine platform and is being developed for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. The platform is designed to harness the immune system to convert the body into its own natural “drug factory,” stimulating the production of antibodies. VXX-401 is designed to induce robust, long-acting antibodies against PCSK9 in order to lower LDL cholesterol. About Vaxxinity Vaxxinity, Inc. is a purpose-driven biotechnology company committed to democratizing healthcare across the globe. The company is pioneering a new class of synthetic, peptide-based immunotherapeutic vaccines aimed at disrupting the existing treatment paradigm for chronic disease, increasingly dominated by monoclonal antibodies, which suffer from prohibitive costs and cumbersome administration. The company’s proprietary technology platform has enabled the innovation of novel pipeline candidates designed to bring the efficiency of vaccines to the treatment of chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, migraine, and hypercholesterolemia. The technology is also implemented as part of a COVID-19 vaccine program. Vaxxinity has optimized its pipeline to achieve a potentially historic, global impact on human health.

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