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Picking Up the Biotech Tab

Drugs like Genentech's Herceptin show what biotech can do when it comes to innovating blockbuster treatments, says Robert Langreth on the Forbes Treatments blog. Indeed by 2014, analysts predict that the top five bestselling drugs will have come from biotech. The problem is, no one wants to pay for the next generation of treatments, like those derived from stem cells, that could be hitting the market around 2020, Langreth says. The "biotech revolution," he says, was brought about by academic innovation and a stock market eager to invest in new ideas. Some biotechs worked out great, but a majority of small companies touting some product or other fizzled. "A chastened stock market doesn't want to gamble on biotech IPOs that could hit the jackpot but are far more likely to end up as clunkers," Langreth says. One answer, analysts say, may be to eliminate capital gains taxes for investors who buy and hold stock from young, untried biotech companies to give them an incentive to invest.

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.