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Ah, Market Forces

Biotech firms are popping up in developing nations to create affordable drugs and vaccines for the poor, but market forces could push them to make drugs for developed countries instead, reports New Scientist's Debora MacKenzie. Two researchers at the University of Toronto looked at 78 small biotechs in India, China, Brazil, and South Africa, and found that they have 69 affordable drugs and vaccines for TB and tropical diseases already on the market, plus another 54 in the pipeline. But because they're so expensive to test and develop, these biotechs are increasingly partnering with pharmaceutical companies to bring these vaccines to market — and pharmaceutical companies, MacKenzie says, have traditionally been uninterested in vaccines for tropical diseases because they don't bring in much money. "As a result, [the Canadian researchers] warn, they may shift to making the products to treat the diseases of the rich world that big pharma prefers," MacKenzie says, like the biotech in India working with a Danish firm on a diabetes drug, or the Chinese biotech working with an American company on developing an IBS treatment.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.