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Christina Smolke is brewing the key ingredients that go into medicines by the vatful. These vats hold 120,000 liters (roughly 31,700 gallons). During five days of fermentation, “the yeast are producing enough drug ingredients to produce over 100 million doses of medication,” Smolke, cofounder and CEO of synthetic biology startup Antheia, said today at the Forbes Sustainability Summit. It would take around 10 square miles of growing medicinal plants to reap the same amount, she said – not to mention significantly shrinking the amount of time from years to days. Antheia’s first products are thebaine and oripavine, both of them key components in pain management and addiction management medications such as codeine, hydrocodone and naloxone.

“One of the problems we have with the way that our pharmaceutical supply chains have evolved is that they’re globally distributed, but there’s also very little resiliency and redundancy in the manufacturing sources,” said Smolke. Look no further than current shortages of certain ADHD and cancer drugs. Climate change, floods, fires, regulatory issues. “It’s the single source failures that really disrupt our supply chains.” Read Alex’s story about Antheia and Smolke, the scientist brewing prescription drug ingredients like they were beer, here.

Bankrupt Digital Health Company Babylon Sells U.K. Assets For Just $620,000

New U.K. bankruptcy filings show Babylon sold its U.K. telemedicine assets to eMed for just $620,000. Babylon owes its main lender AlbaCore a combined $380.5 million in loans, according to the filing. Only $34.5 million of that is secured against collateral. The bankruptcy filing notes AlbaCore “will receive a distribution, however, it will suffer a shortfall.”

Read more here.

Pipeline & Deal Updates

Workflow Software: Awell, a Belgium-based digital health startup, has raised a $5 million seed round led by Octopus Ventures. The company is targeting U.S. expansion of its clinical workflow software, which aims to automate triage, patient onboarding and care plans. It’s already used by Commons Clinic, Parsley Health and Patina.

Birth Control App: Natural Cycles, which combines temperature tracking with an algorithm to help track fertility, has received 510(k) clearance from the FDA for an integration with the Apple Watch. App users can manually input temperature data from a thermometer or use a wearable device. The Apple Watch is the second wearable to get FDA clearance following the Oura smart ring in 2021.

Protein Therapeutics: Generate:Biomedicines, which uses machine learning to develop novel protein-based drugs, announced it has raised a $273 million series C round.

Robosurgery: Surgical robotics company Vicarious Surgical announced it has signed a strategic agreement with Intermountain Health to research and develop expanded treatment options for robotic surgery that aim to improve clinical outcomes and cost-effectiveness.

AI: Denmark-based Corti has raised a $60 million Series B co-led by Prosus Ventures and Atomico for what it’s calling an “AI co-pilot for healthcare interactions.”

Digestive Health: Vivante Health has raised a $31 million Series B funding led by Mercato Partners for its virtual care program that helps patients manage chronic digestive conditions.

Home Health: Inbound Health has raised a $30 million Series B led by HealthQuest Capital for its technology that helps health systems and health plans offer in-home care.

2024 Breakthrough Prizes Announced: Cystic Fibrosis Pioneers Awarded $3 Million

Researchers at Vertex Pharmaceuticals were honored for their revolutionary work in the treatment of the genetic disorder, along with other researchers in biology, physics and mathematics.

Read more here.

Other Healthcare News

Planned Parenthood clinics in Wisconsin started providing abortions for the first time in over a year following a state court ruling.

Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface company Neuralink is recruiting participants for its first human clinical trial.

Health officials in India are trying to track and contain an outbreak of the zoonotic Nipah virus, which can spread between animals and humans.

Artificial sweeteners could increase the risk of developing depression, according to a new study.

Drugmaker Danaher has agreed to lower the cost of its tuberculosis tests after a public pressure campaign from a group of health nonprofits.

The FDA rejected ARS Pharmaceutical’s nasal spray alternative to injectors like EpiPen for treating severe allergic reactions.

Across Forbes

Do You Speak Droidish? The Pentagon Is Spending Millions On A Language For Drones

Musk’s Cybertruck Is Almost Here. But Will Anyone Buy The ‘Ludicrous’ Vehicle?

How AI Is Supercharging Financial Fraud–And Making It Harder To Spot

What Else We are Reading

How Do You Spell Relief? (The American Prospect)

TikTok’s hidden ‘Ozempic economy’ where weight loss influencers trade referrals for drug discounts and cash (Fortune)

Social Security Overpays Billions to People, Many on Disability. Then It Demands the Money Back. (KFF Health News)


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