A banner year for pharma

December 5, 2018, American Chemical Society
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

As 2018 draws to a close, the pharmaceutical industry is celebrating a prosperous year of new investments and therapeutic breakthroughs. These successes were driven by cutting-edge science and progress in finally translating long-standing technology into actual products, according to a cover story in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

The biotech industry benefited from a wave of investment in 2018 from venture capital firms, writes Senior Correspondent Lisa M. Jarvis. In addition, biotech initial public offerings hit a new record. Promising developments during the year include the approval of the first RNA interference drug, advancements for the gene-editing tool CRISPR and the first crop of cannabis-based therapeutics.

In August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Alnylam Pharmaceuticals' Onpattro, the first RNA interference therapeutic to reach the market. In development for 16 years, Onpattro treats a called hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis. Interest in other RNA therapeutics, such as antisense oligonucleotides and mRNA vaccines, is also flourishing. Meanwhile, although CRISPR has suffered recent setbacks related to possible safety issues, companies are forging ahead with planned in 2019 for sickle cell disease, a rare genetic form of blindness and liver disorders. 2018 also witnessed the first FDA approval of a cannabis-based drug: Epidiolex, made by GW Pharmaceuticals, treats rare seizure disorders in children and young adults. Other companies are following suit with clinical development programs targeting cannabinoid receptors.

Explore further: Approval of first RNA interference drug – why the excitement?

More information: "C&EN's Year in Pharma 2018," cen.acs.org/pharmaceuticals/dr … r-Pharma-2018/96/i48

Related Stories

Cannabidiol: Hope or hype?

July 25, 2018

Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the major phytochemicals in marijuana, has become a popular ingredient in dietary supplements, beauty products and beverages, with claims that the compound improves health and treats ailments ranging ...

Company-sponsored CRISPR clinical trials set to start in 2018

January 10, 2018

This year could be a defining one for CRISPR, the gene editing technique, which has been hailed as an important breakthrough in laboratory research. That's because the first company-sponsored clinical studies will be conducted ...

CRISPR's growing pains

July 11, 2018

In the six years since its inception, CRISPR gene editing has experienced ups and downs, from giddy excitement over the technology's potential to cure genetic diseases to patent disputes, ethical considerations and cancer ...

Moving forward with mRNA medicines

September 5, 2018

In cells, ribosomes translate messenger RNA (mRNA) into proteins. And in the nascent field of mRNA therapeutics, researchers and investors are hoping to translate mRNA drugs from the lab to the medicine cabinet. Until now, ...

A new class of drugs aims to exploit cancer cells' weaknesses

October 11, 2017

In recent years, new cancer treatments have brought hope to people who once had limited options. But for others, the wait for an effective drug continues. Now on the horizon is a new generation of drugs based on a concept ...

Recommended for you

Seeing small-molecule interactions inside cells

December 12, 2018

Like people in a large company, proteins in cells constantly interact with each other to perform various jobs. To develop new disease therapies, researchers are trying to control these interactions with small-molecule drugs ...

The stiffest porous lightweight materials ever

December 12, 2018

Researchers at ETH have developed and manufactured a family of architectures that maximises the stiffness of porous lightweight materials. It's practically impossible to develop stiffer designs.

Field-responsive mechanical metamaterials (FRMMs)

December 11, 2018

In a recent study published in Science Advances, materials scientists Julie A. Jackson and colleagues presented a new class of materials architecture called field-responsive mechanical metamaterials (FRMM). The FRMMs exhibit ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.