Now, onto the latest headlines
You may recall Building 8, the secretive unit that Facebook unveiled in 2016 to work on science fiction-esque moonshot projects like machines that can meld with human minds and technology to let people hear through their skin. Now, Business Insider reports that Building 8 has been shuttered, with the projects under its auspices moved to other teams within Facebook.
Bay Area-based companies that haven’t historically hired M.D.s are now recruiting an army of doctors. Apple is tasking its physician hires with developing medical records software and health sensors for the Apple Watch. And the gym brand CrossFit is hosting training sessions for doctors through its affiliates around the world, with the hope that they might prescribe CrossFit or even open their own gym.
Here’s some cool preclinical science out of UC San Francisco: Researchers there used a form of the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR on 4-week-old lab mice with a genetic predisposition to later become obese. The result: The CRISPR’d mice stayed at a normal weight, while the mice in a control group became severely obese.
The two powerful California lawmakers who chair the state legislature’s health committees have each received tens of thousands of dollars in the past two years in campaign contributions from drug companies, according to a new analysis from California Healthline. A key thing to keep in mind about these contributions: California’s state legislature has been a thorn in pharma’s side like no other in recent years, most notably passing a first-in-the-nation drug pricing transparency law.
The San Francisco-based startup accelerator Nex Cubed is turning its sights to San Diego in search of new ideas for medical software. Nex Cubed will accept applications until Jan. 18 for its new San Diego-based digital health accelerator program, which will start in February, the San Diego Business Journal reports.
Change Healthcare, which is majority owned by drug distributor McKesson, is buying key assets from PokitDok, a Bay Area startup known for getting ahead of today’s blockchain-in-health-care mania. Change confirmed the acquisition after CNBC’s Chrissy Farr first reported that the deal was in motion.
If you’re looking for a longread for your holiday travels, I recommend the Tampa Bay Times’s beautifully written eight-part story about a family's quest to get gene therapy for their son with a rare inherited muscular disease. On the business side of things, the story offers a rare window into a tense standoff between San Francisco-based gene therapy developer Audentes Therapeutics and one of its clinical trial sites, stemming from a dispute about whether to change the protocol for the company’s experimental treatment.