A clinical researcher at NIH Credit: Promotional photo for First In Human

Discovery Channel, NIH unveil new docuseries featuring rare disease research center

Medical researchers, patients and a couple of congressmen gathered Tuesday evening in Washington, D.C., for a preview screening of Discovery Channel’s new docuseries First In Human, which chronicles life inside the National Institutes of Health’s Building 10, also known as the Clinical Center. The building on the Bethesda campus is home to cutting-edge research and is where doctors test new treatments on debilitating diseases for the first time.

NIH gave access to documentary director John Hoffman for the three-part series, allowing him to bring cameras into the secretive building for the first time. Hoffman followed patients throughout their entire clinical trial at the building, which is where the first gene therapy and HIV/AIDS treatments were developed. Hoffman was given access after previously partnering with NIH on award-winning documentary films such as The Alzheimer’s Project and The Weight of the Nation.

At the event Tuesday night, Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole and Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, who chair the House and Senate appropriation committees respectively, spoke about bipartisan support for NIH, according to Huffington Post. The Trump administration had proposed more than $5 billion in cuts to the agency in his budget outline in March, but the funding bill being considered by Congress this week includes $2 billion in additional funding for the Bethesda-based medical research center.

The docuseries, narrated by The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons is scheduled to premiere on Discovery Channel in August.

 

GlaxoSmithKline to invest $139 million into Rockville biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility

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The British biopharmaceutical giant announced Monday it will spend the money to expand its Benlysta manufacturing facility to support growing demand for the drug that treats systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)—a disease that causes the immune system to attack its own tissues, creating symptoms such as rashes.

The $139 million investment is expected to increase the manufacturing capacity of the medicine by nearly 50 percent at the Rockville facility, according to a press release.

GlaxoSmithKline first entered Rockville after acquiring Human Genome Sciences in a $3 billion deal in 2012 and in 2016 opened a new $50 million research and development center at the Rockville campus at 9911 Belward Campus Drive.

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United Therapeutics signs deal with 3D printing company to aid organ creation efforts

Silver Spring-based United Therapeutics is continuing its push into organ manufacturing. The cutting-edge biopharmaceutical company announced April 26 it signed a deal with 3D Systems to begin developing 3D printing systems to bioengineer human lungs. The company said it will use the 3D printings with “patient-specific biological material” including stem cells to develop organs that one day could be used for human transplant.

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“Our partnership with 3D Systems is a major step forward in creating an unlimited supply of tolerable transplanted organs,” Martine Rothblatt, chairman and CEO of United Therapeutics, said in a statement. “By cellularizing scaffolds created with 3D Systems printers with a patient’s own cells, there will no longer be a need for immunosuppression and a vastly greater number of patients can extend their enjoyment of life through organ transplantation.”

United Therapeutics has focused on bioengineering lungs for several years and last year began testing genetically modified lungs grown in pigs to determine if they can be transplanted into humans.