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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

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.