Altesa BioSciences has raised a $35 million Series A from undisclosed investors, according to an SEC filing from July. The company develops antiviral drugs for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from viruses that cause the common cold.
The College Park, GA-based startup is led by Brett Giroir, the former assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump administration, acting FDA commissioner and admiral.
The company’s filings and website indicate that its board of directors includes Moncef Slaoui, the former head of the US government’s Covid-19 Operation Warp Speed, and a former vaccine executive at GSK. The appointment may be his first post at a drug company in over two years. Last year, he joined the advisory board of health tech company ixlayer.
Slaoui was fired from his position as board chair at Galvani Bioelectronics, a joint venture between GSK and Verily, in March 2021 after an investigation revealed sexual harassment accusations from his time at GSK. Slaoui was quick to publicly apologize but was also ousted from his positions as CSO at Centessa Pharmaceuticals and chairman of Vaxcyte.
Endpoints News attempted to reach Slaoui by phone, but he did not respond. Giroir declined requests for an interview and said in an email that the company would “prefer to stay hunkered down in executing our clinical and preclinical programs.”
In response to follow-up questions, Giroir defended his decision to recruit Slaoui to the company, writing that he “literally saved the world through his leadership of Operation Warp Speed.”
“When I discussed Altesa with Moncef, he immediately understood its potential transformational importance to those with COPD and other chronic diseases,” Giroir said, who worked with Slaoui at HHS and on the White House Coronavirus Task Force. “Since joining the board, Moncef has been an extraordinary asset to the company and mentor to our staff.”
The startup launched in February 2022 with $4 million in seed funding from Pitango Venture Capital and the GRA Venture Fund. At the time, Giroir told FierceBiotech that he was in talks to raise a $50 million to $60 million round.
Giroir told Endpoints in an email that Altesa changed the fundraising objective to $30 million to reflect a “more optimized clinical development program, which shortens the time to a significant value inflection point.” The total raise was slightly oversubscribed by $5 million, he added.
Altesa plans to start its first clinical trial “within weeks,” Giroir said. The company is testing an antiviral drug called vapendavir in a Phase IIb COPD trial, starting with a rhinovirus challenge study, followed by a non-interventional trial that Giroir expects to begin in July 2024.
The company’s website describes the pill as a broad-spectrum antiviral with “potent activity” against rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold and can be especially harmful to people with lung diseases like COPD.
Aviragen Therapeutics previously tested vapendavir in asthma patients with rhinovirus infections, but it failed in a Phase II study in 2017. Soon after, Aviragen merged with vaccine developer Vaxart, which licensed the pill to Altesa in 2021 in a deal worth up to $130 million in milestone payments.
Altesa also has an agreement to license up to six antiviral compounds from Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE), a nonprofit formed by Emory University. Altesa is developing one of those compounds, a preclinical candidate dubbed ALT-2023, as a potential hepatitis C treatment.
The startup’s scientific co-founders include Emory scientists George Painter, the inventor of molnupiravir, the Covid antiviral commercialized by Merck as Lagevrio; and Dennis Liotta, who invented the HIV antivirals emtricitabine and lamivudine.
In this specific predicament, U.S. officials have to choose a strategy to deliver the aid without the perception of benefiting Hamas, a group the U.S. and Israel both classify as a terrorist organization.
When aiding people in war zones, you can’t just send money, a development strategy called “cash transfers” that has become increasingly popular due to its efficiency. Sending money can boost the supply of locally produced goods and services and help people on the ground pay for what they need most. But injecting cash into an economy so completely cut off from the world would only stoke inflation.
So the aid must consist of goods that have to be brought into Gaza, and services provided by people working as part of an aid mission. Humanitarian aid can include food and water; health, sanitation and hygiene supplies and services; and tents and other materials for shelter and settlement.
Due to the closure of the border with Israel, aid can arrive in Gaza only via the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, will likely turn to its longtime partner on the ground, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, to serve as supply depots and distribute goods. That agency, originally founded in 1949 as a temporary measure until a two-state solution could be found, serves in effect as a parallel yet unelected government for Palestinian refugees.
USAID will likely want to tap into UNRWA’s network of 284 schools – many of which are now transformed into humanitarian shelters housing two-thirds of the estimated 1 million people displaced by Israeli airstrikes – and 22 hospitals to expedite distribution.
Since Biden took office, total yearly U.S. assistance for the Palestinian territories has totaled around $150 million, restored from just $8 million in 2020 under the Trump administration. During the Obama administration, however, the U.S. was providing more aid to the territories than it is now, with $1 billion disbursed in the 2013 fiscal year.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is a U.N. organization. It’s not run by Hamas, unlike, for instance, the Gaza Ministry of Health. However, Hamas has frequently undermined UNRWA’s efforts and diverted international aid for military purposes.
Humanitarian aid professionals regularly have to contend with these trade-offs when deciding to what extent they can work with governments and local authorities that commit violent acts. They need to do so in exchange for the access required to help civilians under their control.
Similarly, Biden has had to make concessions to Israel while brokering for the freedom to send humanitarian aid to Gaza. For example, he has assured Israel that if any of the aid is diverted by Hamas, the operation will cease.
This promise may have been politically necessary. But if Biden already believes Hamas to be uncaring about civilian welfare, he may not expect the group to refrain from taking what they can.
Security best practices
What can be done to protect the security of humanitarian aid operations that take place in the midst of dangerous conflicts?
Under International Humanitarian Law, local authorities have the primary responsibility for ensuring the delivery of aid – even when they aren’t carrying out that task. To increase the chances that the local authorities will not attack them, aid groups can give “humanitarian notification” and voluntarily alert the local government as to where they will be operating.
Under the current agreement between the U.S., Israel and Egypt, the convoy will raise the U.N. flag. International inspectors will make sure no weapons are on board the vehicles before crossing over from Arish, Egypt, to Rafah, a city located on the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt.
The aid convoy will likely cross without militarized security. This puts it at some danger of diversion once inside Gaza. But whether the aid convoy is attacked, seized or left alone, the Biden administration will have demonstrated its willingness to attempt a humanitarian relief operation. In this sense, a relatively small first convoy bearing water, medical supplies and food, among other items, serves as a test balloon for a sustained operation to follow soon after.
In that case, the presence of U.S. armed forces might provoke attacks on Gaza-bound aid convoys by Hamas and Islamic jihad fighters that otherwise would not have occurred. Combined with the mobilization of two U.S. Navy carrier groups in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, I’d be concerned that such a move might also stoke regional anger. It would undermine the Biden administration’s attempts to cool the situation.
On U.N.-approved missions, aid delivery may be secured by third-party peacekeepers – meaning, in this case, personnel who are neither Israeli nor Palestinian – with the U.N. Security Council’s blessing. In this case, tragically, it’s unlikely that such a resolution could conceivably pass such a vote, much less quickly enough to make a difference.
Topher L. McDougal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
“The majority of wound infections often manifest themselves immediately postoperatively, so close followup should take place […]”
Credit: 2023 Barbarewicz et al.
“The majority of wound infections often manifest themselves immediately postoperatively, so close followup should take place […]”
BUFFALO, NY- October 20, 2023 – A new research perspective was published in Oncoscience (Volume 10) on October 4, 2023, entitled, “Diagnosis and management of postoperative wound infections in the head and neck region.”
In everyday clinical practice at a department for oral and maxillofacial surgery, a large number of surgical procedures in the head and neck region take place under both outpatient and inpatient conditions. The basis of every surgical intervention is the patient’s consent to the respective procedure. Particular attention is drawn to the general and operation-specific risks.
Particularly in the case of soft tissue procedures in the facial region, bleeding, secondary bleeding, scarring and infection of the surgical area are among the most common complications/risks, depending on the respective procedure. In their new perspective, researchers Filip Barbarewicz, Kai-Olaf Henkel and Florian Dudde from Army Hospital Hamburg in Germany discuss the diagnosis and management of postoperative infections in the head and neck region.
“In order to minimize the wound infections/surgical site infections, aseptic operating conditions with maximum sterility are required.”
Furthermore, depending on the extent of the surgical procedure and the patient‘s previous illnesses, peri- and/or postoperative antibiotics should be considered in order to avoid postoperative surgical site infection. Abscesses, cellulitis, phlegmone and (depending on the location of the procedure) empyema are among the most common postoperative infections in the respective surgical area. The main pathogens of these infections are staphylococci, although mixed (germ) patterns are also possible.
“Risk factors for the development of a postoperative surgical site infection include, in particular, increased age, smoking, multiple comorbidities and/or systemic diseases (e.g., diabetes mellitus type II) as well as congenital and/ or acquired immune deficiency [10, 11].”
Continue reading the paper: DOI:https://doi.org/10.18632/oncoscience.589
Correspondence to: Florian Dudde
Keywords: surgical site infection, head and neck surgery
Oncoscience is a peer-reviewed, open-access, traditional journal covering the rapidly growing field of cancer research, especially emergent topics not currently covered by other journals. This journal has a special mission: Freeing oncology from publication cost. It is free for the readers and the authors.
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A year after the Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, he presented a new scheme to the Department of Education on Tuesday. While it is less aggressive than the prior plan, this proposal would cost hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, doing more harm than good.
As the legendary economist Milton Friedman noted, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”
Higher education in America is costly, and this “forgiveness” would make it worse.
Signing up for potentially life-long student loans at a young age is too normalized. At the same time, not enough borrowers can secure jobs that offer adequate financial support to pay off these massive loans upon graduation or leaving college. These issues demand serious attention. But “erasing” student loans, as well-intentioned as it may be, is not the panacea Americans have been led to believe.
Upon closer examination, the President’s forgiveness plan creates winners and losers, ultimately benefiting higher-income earners the most. In reality, this plan amounts to wealth redistribution. To quote another top economist, Thomas Sowell described this clearly: “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.”
Forgiving student loans is not the end of the road but the beginning of a trade-off for a rising federal fiscal crisis and soaring college tuition.
When the federal government uses taxpayer funds to give student loans, it charges an interest rate to account for the cost of the loan. To say that all borrowers no longer have to pay would mean taxpayers lose along with those who pay for it and those who have been paying or have paid off their student loans.
Let’s consider that there will be 168 million tax returns filed this year. A simple calculation suggests that student loan forgiveness could add around $2,000 yearly in taxes per taxpayer, based on the CRFB’s central estimate.
Clearly, nothing is free, and the burden of student loan forgiveness will be shifted to taxpayers.
One notable feature of this plan is that forgiveness is unavailable to individuals earning over $125,000 annually. In practice, this means that six-figure earners could have their debts partially paid off by lower-income tax filers who might not have even pursued higher education. This skewed allocation of resources is a sharp departure from progressive policy.
Inflation remains high, affordable housing is a distant dream, and wages fail to keep up with soaring inflation. Introducing the potential of an additional $2,000 annual tax burden at least for those already struggling, mainly to subsidize high-income earners, adds insult to injury.
Furthermore, it’s vital to recognize that the burden of unpaid student loans should not fall on low-income earners or Americans who did not attend college. Incentives play a crucial role in influencing markets.
By removing the incentive for student loan borrowers to repay their debts, we may encourage more individuals to pursue higher education and accumulate debt without the intention of paying it back. After all, why would they when it can be written off through higher taxes for everyone?
The ripple effect of this plan could be far-reaching.
It may make college more accessible for some, opening the floodgates for students and the need for universities to expand and hire more staff, leading to even higher college tuition. This perverse incentive will set a precedent that will create a cycle of soaring tuition, which would counteract the original goal of making higher education more affordable.
While the intention behind President Biden’s student loan forgiveness may appear noble (in likelihood, it is a rent-seeking move), the results may prove detrimental to our nation’s economic stability and fairness. And if the debt is monetized, more inflation will result.
Forgiving student loans will exacerbate existing problems, with the brunt of the burden falling on lower-income Americans. Instead of improving the situation, it will likely create an intricate web of financial consequences, indirectly affecting the very people it aims to help. But that is the result of most government programs with good intentions.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D., is president of Ginn Economic Consulting, chief economist or senior fellow at multiple state thinks across the country, host of the Let People Prosper Show, and previously the associate director for economic policy of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, 2019-20. Follow him on X.com @VanceGinn.