READY FOR SHOWTIME.
Novo Nordisk announced on Tuesday that a large late-stage study revealed that its obesity drug Wegovy had significant medical benefits beyond weight loss, enhancing its reputation beyond a mere lifestyle drug. The study, called SELECT, involving 17,500 patients over five years, showed the weekly injection reduced major cardiovascular event risks like stroke by 20% in overweight or obese individuals with heart disease history, outperforming the 15-17% expected by analysts. The news led to a 13% surge in Novo Nordisk’s shares, which have already soared almost 150% over the past two years. The positive results may convince insurers in the U.S. and European health authorities to expand coverage for Wegovy, potentially prompting a reassessment of its classification as a lifestyle drug. Novo Nordisk plans to file for regulatory approvals for label indication expansion in the U.S. and EU this year. The injection, leading to an average weight loss of around 15%, has transformed the weight-loss market since its U.S. launch in June 2021. Experts believe these results will impact how doctors prescribe anti-obesity drugs and may lead to increased uptake of Wegovy by a quarter by 2030, although Novo Nordisk is already struggling to meet the rising U.S. demand. (Reuters)
WHAT’S THE WAIT?
Singapore set out in 2000 to become a biotech hub by investing billions of dollars into life sciences research and attracting global pharma companies. However, after 20 years it has yet to produce a major success story like Moderna. Small wins like S*BIO’s cancer drug Vonjo being approved in the U.S. have not moved the needle. Promising local biotechs like Aslan and Tessa have recently faced setbacks. Investors are losing interest without big exits. Singapore lacks experienced late-stage drug developers and commercialization experts compared to major biotech hubs like Boston. Government agencies are working to fill the talent gap and support companies through the development process. Singapore aims to leverage its location between East and West, as U.S.-China tensions drive more pharma investment into the country. But Singapore needs a critical mass of successful biotech companies to establish itself globally. The next 5 years will be critical to show its strategy is working. (Fierce Biotech)
CHINA SUPPLANTS JAPAN IN AUTOS.
In the first half of the year, China surpassed Japan in automobile exports for the first time, exporting 2.34 million vehicles, mainly due to the “explosive growth” of electric vehicle (EV) export. Young Chinese EV makers like Xpeng and Nio have begun international expansion in Europe, while giants like BYD and Geely’s subsidiary Zeekr are establishing footprints in major economies, with signs of entering the U.S. market. This surge aligns with China’s ambition to become a global leader in EVs, supported by dominance over the battery supply chain, government subsidies, and policy support. Chinese EVs offer competitive pricing and quality, which could enable them to challenge existing brands, especially in the competitive Western markets. This has led some to identify the global EV industry as comprising only “Tesla, or Chinese EV makers.” (Techcrunch)
U.S. MILITARY RESPONSIBLE FOR CARCINOGENS.
The U.S. Air Force has detected unsafe levels of PCBs, a likely carcinogen, at underground launch control centers at Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base, where a significant number of men and women have reported cancer diagnoses, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This discovery, part of a broader investigation into cancer reports within the missile community, revealed two facilities with PCB levels above EPA-recommended thresholds. A new cleanup effort has been directed by Gen. Thomas Bussiere, with immediate measures to mitigate exposure. According to the Torchlight Initiative, at least 268 troops or family members who served at nuclear missile sites have self-reported illnesses, with 217 being cancer cases. The Minuteman III silos and control centers are over 60 years old, and health concerns regarding potential toxins have been raised repeatedly by missileers, who are responsible for monitoring and possibly launching nuclear weapons. (Associated Press)
CLIMATE CHANGE LESSON IN ALASKA.
Over the weekend, a glacial dam burst in Alaska’s capital, causing the Mendenhall River to swell to unprecedented levels and leading to significant destruction. The phenomenon, known as a jökuhlaup, resulted in the loss of two homes and partial loss of a third, with eight buildings condemned and some others damaged. While the rapid release of water from the Mendenhall Glacier basin is common, Saturday’s event was astonishing in its speed, with river flows about 1.5 times the previous record. The loose glacial deposits along the Mendenhall River make the area particularly prone to erosion. While climate change’s relationship to such floods is complex, the retreat of glaciers like the Suicide Glacier contributes to the formation of such ice dams. These glacial floods threaten around 15 million people globally, especially in India, Pakistan, Peru, and China. No injuries or fatalities were reported in this instance. (Associated Press)
HORSES DIE FROM HEAT.
Organizers of the Soma Nomaoi festival, an annual horse festival in Fukushima prefecture, Japan, where riders dressed as samurai re-enact battles, are considering changing the event’s dates next year after sunstroke affected 111 horses, resulting in the deaths of two. Japan has experienced its hottest average July temperatures in over a century, and heatstroke alerts were issued in 26 out of 47 prefectures. During the festival from July 29 to 31, temperatures reached 35 degrees Celsius, the hottest in five years. Both horses and dozens of people required treatment for sunstroke. The three-day event, featuring over 400 participants and attracting more than 120,000 spectators, has drawn concerns for the welfare of the horses. Organizers attempted to mitigate the heat by sprinkling water on the track using three water-sprinkler cars, but the water dried up quickly. A member of the festival’s executive committee, Yoshichika Hirata, stated that moving the date to a cooler period would be discussed. A similar incident occurred during last year’s festival when one horse died, and a subsequent survey in December found that a majority of riders supported changing the date of the event to prevent such tragedies. (Japan Today)
Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.
WORDS: The Biology Guy.