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Healthcare Reform to Bolster Research

The passage of the healthcare reform bill this week signifies more than affordable insurance for many Americans. Tucked within the bill's 2,400 pages are "lesser-known provisions that will significantly affect biomedical researchers, teaching hospitals and the biotechnology industry," Nature News reports. The bill calls for the initiation of a new competitive grant program at the National Institutes of Health, the Cures Acceleration Network, which will garner up to $500 million annually to ramp-up the translation of basic research into treatments. Individual awards are expected to be up to $15 million per year. Nature reports that the CAN will be distinct from the Clinical and Translational Science Awards, a program already in place at the NIH.

Science Insider reports that the bill also contains language outlining the creation of a "new, independent, non-profit institute for comparative effectiveness research — evidence-based studies that compare the value of medical treatments, such as two different drugs or a specific drug versus surgery."

According to Nature, companies that produce biologics also benefit from the bill. New regulation would guarantee 12 years of market exclusivity for makers of brand-name biologics before biosimilars can be produced.

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.