And the winner is…

All of us. Thanks to James Allison and Tasuku Honjo, winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine, we now have a much better understanding of cancer, and how to treat it. Allison and Honjo characterized two very important and potent pathways – called “immune checkpoints” – that can shut down the immune response (CTLA-4 and PD-1). Anyone heard of “monoclonal antibodies?” Of course you have, and well, that’s thanks to these two smart people. For a really good article on their discovery and what it has led to go here. Dr. Allison is currently working at MD Anderson and you can see a short video of him here. MD Anderson has a very nice 3-minute video on “What is immunotherapy” that is worth a watch. Everyone together now, say “thanks guys”

Not just for smokin’

Maybe tobacco can redeem itself for its bad reputation as being an addictive, cancer-causing vice. It turns out, a tobacco plant-based platform for biomanufacturing may be able to make monoclonal antibodies at just 10% of the cost it takes using mammalian cell line systems. PlantPraxis, a joint venture between the Brazilian company Axis Biotech Brasil and the Canadian biotech PlantForm Corporation, is breaking ground on a pilot production facility in Rio de Janeiro to aid in the development of a biosimilar for AbbVie’s Humira (adalimumab) in addition to other biologics in their pipeline. What is even better than saving tons of money? Saving time; and the plant-based platform can do that too, along with unlimited scale-up capabilities. Don’t sell the tobacco farm just yet…