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To Fund the Valley

A new financial tool aims to help early-stage research make the jump across the "valley of death" to advanced clinical trials, the New York Times reports.

It writes that Karen Petrou, the co-founder and managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics, developed the idea of BioBonds based on her experience as both a financial services consultant and someone with retinal degeneration. According to the Times, Petrou came across the issue of the gap in funding between research studies and clinical trials while trying to raise money to speed the development of retinal degeneration treatments.

Petrou's BioBonds idea, the Times writes, would create low-interest, government-backed loans for translational research that are then packaged and sold as bonds. Researchers, though, must repay the loans, it adds. Attila Seyhan, director of translational oncology operations at Brown University and a former Pfizer researcher, tells the Times that universities would have to get creative. "There will be losses," he notes. "But if 1 percent succeeds, you pay off the losses. This is how drug development works."

The Times adds that new legislation introduced in May would provide $30 billion for such loans over three years, if passed.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.