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Moderna and the Art of Personalized Medicine: Brainstorm Health

Happy Friday, readers.

In 2018, Moderna Therapeutics filed for a titanic IPO (at that point, the largest biotech public offering in history). It raised $604 million, setting the company up for an initial valuation of about $7.5 billion.

But, as is the story with so many pre-market biotechs, controversy was just around the corner. Moderna's technology was relatively unproven. The firm employed something called "mRNA" therapy—a treatment that literally reprograms a patient's cells into biological drug-making factories that could, theoretically, ward off a number of diseases. And skittish investors flew the coop (shares are down more than 10% following the company's blockbuster debut).

Well, biopharma loves a comeback kid. And Moderna stock rose, modestly, Friday thanks to some early clinical results.

Emphasis on the "early." These are phase one trials. We need a whole lot more data (and data about that data) before we can fully assess these treatments. But the preliminary info suggests mRNA tech could actually be used to create vaccines to prevent birth defects and other infectious conditions.

Read on for the day's news, and have a wonderful weekend.

Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy, [email protected]

DIGITAL HEALTH

A review of the Fitbit Versa 2. My colleague Aaron Pressman has a (typically) impressive overview of a new gadget—in this case, the Fitbit Versa 2. Here’s what he has to say about the new fitness tracking features: “The smartwatch offers a smart sleep-tracking feature that automatically calculates how long you’ve slept and offers several measures of the quality of that rest. While you exercise, the Versa 2’s “PurePulse” heart rate sensor calculates how much time you’re spending in different heart rate zones in realtime, a boon to those who stay in shape using a cardio training program.” (Fortune)

INDICATIONS

FDA says popular heartburn medication Zantac might include a troubling impurity. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday said that the popular heartburn medication Zantac may include an impurity that, technically, is linked with cancer. But, as with most of these warnings, it’s important to keep context in mind. Regulators aren’t yanking the products from shelves or telling users to quit them. “The FDA is not calling for individuals to stop taking ranitidine at this time; however, patients taking prescription ranitidine who wish to discontinue use should talk to their health care professional about other treatment options,” the FDA said in a statement. “People taking OTC ranitidine could consider using other OTC medicines approved for their condition. There are multiple drugs on the market that are approved for the same or similar uses as ranitidine.” (Fortune)

REQUIRED READING

America’s First Privacy Law Is Happeningby Jeff John Roberts

3 Things We Learned from the 3rd Democratic Debate Last Nightby Mythili Sampathkumar

The Insurance CEO Who Gives Customers His Cellphone Numberby Robert Hackett

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