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Morning Read: First malaria vaccine gets green light from European regulators, Anthem seals the $48.4B deal with Cigna

European regulators have approved the first malaria vaccine that has the potential to save thousands of infants from contracting the killer disease, Anthem formally agreed to buy Cigna for $48.4 billion now there’s just the potential antitrust issues to sweat through.



European regulators approved the first vaccine for malaria. Developed by GlaxoSmithKline, Mosquirix was approved for use in infants at risk for contracting malaria. If it clears remaining regulatory hurdles, including the governments in Africa where it would be used and the World Health Organization, it will be the first licensed human vaccine against a parasitic disease. Every year 200 million people are infected with malaria and about half a million die from it — most of them infants in Sub-Saharan Africa. — Reuters

Yesterday’s news tip is today’s official news. Anthem has agreed to acquire Cigna for $48.4 billion. Given that this is the second mega merger proposed by insurance companies after Aetna-Humana, I wonder how busy the merger arbitrageurs will be considering the very real chance that the Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission antitrust concerns could scupper the whole shebang.  — The Wall Street Journal


Medrobotics won FDA clearance for its Flex Robotic System. The device is designed for performing transoral surgeries on the mouth and throat that require work on difficult to reach areas. — Medgadget

The developer of a drug to treat a rare blood disorder, Cambridge-based Ra Pharmaceuticals, has secured $58.5 million in Series B financing, funding that the company said will help it progress human proof of concept data.

The funding will support Ra’s lead molecule, RA101495, which helps treat a blood disorder known as paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), which is not inherited but develops over time. The disease is caused by a defect in the formation of surface proteins on red blood cells, which causes the body’s own immune system to attack and destroy the cells.

Boston Business Journal

A new study shows that even for stronger cancer patients, chemotherapy might not be optimal for those receiving end-of-life care, despite general treatment guidelines.

“It worsened quality of life for those that are relatively healthy, and those are the ones that the guidelines support treating,” said Dr. Charles Blanke, a medical oncologist at Oregon Health and Science University, who was not involved in the study. “Chemotherapy is supposed to either help people live better or help them live longer, and this study showed that chemotherapy did neither.” — The New York Times

Canadian startup Perimeter Medical Imaging has raised a $5 million Series A financing that it expects will be sufficient to complete an ongoing clinical trial, as well as to secure regulatory clearance for its first tissue imaging product.

Fierce Medical Devices


Birmingham’s The Sanders Trust has purchased the Tower Pointe Medical Center in Greenwood, S.C. for $8.4 million. — Birmingham Business Journal


Mana Health’s patient portal secured ambulatory and EHR certification from ICSA Labs. — PR Newswire


The Senate HELP committee met to learn more about information blocking. Some of the opening statements and testimony have been released. Here’s one of the comments from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the committee:

“Information blocking is one obstacle to interoperability, and I’m interested in hearing today from the witnesses the extent to which this is a problem — and the extent to which the government may share in the blame.” — Politico Morning eHealth

Small-business owners are descending on Washington this week to lobby Congress to roll back an Obamacare rule that could hit companies with thousands of dollars’ worth of penalties.

The Hill


Looks like we might need to find a different source of potassium. Bananas could soon be extinct due to the spread of a certain fungus.

The latest banana to stock your shelves is a particularly bland variety known to banana geeks by its proper name: The Cavendish. But to everybody else it’s known more simply as the only banana readily available. Fifty years ago, though, that spot was held by a different top banana: The Gros Michel (by all accounts a significantly less bland variety than our current), which was completely wiped out by a fungal infection that slowly spread worldwide, clearing the way for the Cavendish.

Now it looks like that same process is happening again. io9