biotechnology biotechnology
NPR, Kaiser Health News/Evaluate Pharma analysis for Kaiser Health News on Sept. 21, 2016

Drugs For Rare Diseases Have Become Uncommonly Rich Monopolies

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Virginijus Siksnys' large research team at the Vilnius University Institute of Biotechnology in Lithuania. Arunas Silanskas/Vilnius University Institute of Biotechnology hide caption

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Arunas Silanskas/Vilnius University Institute of Biotechnology

Science Rewards Eureka Moments, Except When It Doesn't

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A multi-million dollar effort to produce a test to guide treatment for a potentially lethal skin cancer recently fell apart after the scientific investigator discovered that the commercial antibodies he was using were unreliable. Cultura RM Exclusive/Peter Mulle/Getty Images hide caption

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Cultura RM Exclusive/Peter Mulle/Getty Images

In 2015, the Sandoz unit of drugmaker Novartis won Food and Drug Administration approval of a drug called Zarxio, which is similar to Amgen's Neupogen, a medicine that boosts the production of white blood cells. Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, speaks at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco on Nov. 2, 2015. Jeff Chiu/AP hide caption

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Jeff Chiu/AP

Biotech's Theranos Offers A Cautionary Tale For Silicon Valley

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Multiple sclerosis pill Tecfidera is on the top 10 list of most costly specialty drugs, as measured by overall spending, for California's health benefit system for public workers and retirees. John/Flickr hide caption

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John/Flickr

This genetically modified yeast can convert sugar into powerful opioid drugs. Scientists working with the modified yeast strains are required to register them with the Drug Enforcement Administration and keep the yeast under lock and key. Courtesy of Christina Smolke/Stanford University hide caption

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Courtesy of Christina Smolke/Stanford University

Engineers Make Narcotics With Yeast. Is Home-Brewed Heroin Next?

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In the study, muscle cells were injected into the cell-free "scaffolding" of a rat limb, which provided shape and structure onto which regenerated tissue could grow. Bernhard Jank, MD/Ott Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine hide caption

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Bernhard Jank, MD/Ott Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine

In Massachusetts Lab, Scientists Grow An Artificial Rat Limb

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Families harvest poppy bulbs in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. To collect the opium, they score the bulbs and let the milky substance ooze out. The dried residue contains about 10 percent morphine. David Guttenfelder/AP/National Geographic hide caption

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David Guttenfelder/AP/National Geographic
Ikon Images/Corbis

Scientists Urge Temporary Moratorium On Human Genome Edits

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A nurse in 1938 checks the amount of insulin in a needle. For many decades, the only insulin available to people with diabetes came from the pancreases of cattle or pigs. Insulin from animals is still available outside the U.S. — and cheaper than a recombinant DNA version. Bettmann/Corbis hide caption

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Bettmann/Corbis

Why Is Insulin So Expensive In The U.S.?

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The research team used yeast chromosome No. 3 as the model for their biochemical stitchery. Pins and white diamonds in the illustration represent "designer changes" not found in the usual No. 3; yellow stretches represent deletions. Lucy Reading-Ikkanda hide caption

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Lucy Reading-Ikkanda

Custom Chromo: First Yeast Chromosome Built From Scratch

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This riboflavin-rich material can be used to print intricate, microscopic structures in three dimensions. Courtesy of North Carolina State University hide caption

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Courtesy of North Carolina State University

A miniature ninja throwing star or a surgical device? The microgripper, shown here coming out of a catheter tube, is activated by body heat. The sharp appendages fold up when the device warms up. Evin Gultepe, Gracias Lab, Johns Hopkins University. hide caption

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Evin Gultepe, Gracias Lab, Johns Hopkins University.

Medical geneticist Dr. Harry Ostrer (center) talks to the press outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. The court heard oral arguments on the highly charged question of whether human genes can be patented. Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

Justices Appear Skeptical Of Patenting Human Genes

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