30 May 2023 | Simon Frost

SCI's Daily Digest: your one-stop shop for all of the day's news in science based industry

In today's Daily Digest, concerns over the number of wet wipes flushed down UK toilets, research identifying a new compound that can stimulate nerve regeneration, and more.

Innovation and Policy

1 June marks an historic day for patent protection in Europe with the entry into operation of the much-anticipated Unitary Patent system. The launch represents the most significant development in the European patent landscape since the signing of the European Patent Convention 50 years ago. The Unitary Patent system brings a host of substantial improvements for users everywhere, including cost reductions, streamlined procedures, increased transparency, and enhanced legal certainty.

Lord Ahmad is in India for a visit that will accelerate UK-India collaboration on science, technology and health, following a landmark agreement on science, research and innovation signed by the two countries in April. The visit comes as the UK and India continue to make progress towards a mutually beneficial Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Environment and Sustainability

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey has written to wet wipes producers setting out her concerns about the number of wet wipes that are flushed down UK toilets - between 2.1 - 2.9 billion each year – and has asked them to reconsider the use of the word ‘flushable’ on packaging to help prevent sewer blockages and water pollution.

The UK, alongside 52 other members of the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) to End Plastic Pollution, has signed a far-reaching Ministerial Statement, calling for an ambitious global plastic pollution treaty to tackle plastic pollution and protect the marine environment. The HAC is a coalition of over 50 governments that have since agreed to end plastic pollution by 2040.

Health and Wellbeing

Research has identified a new compound that can stimulate nerve regeneration after injury and protect cardiac tissue from the sort of damage seen in heart attack. The study, published in Nature, was led by UCL, in partnership with the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) and AstraZeneca. They identified a chemical compound, named ‘1938’, that activates the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signalling pathway, and is involved in cell growth. It is one of just a few compounds in development that can promote nerve regeneration, for which there are currently no approved medicines.

SKYCovion, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by SK Chemicals, has been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). It becomes the eighth Covid-19 vaccine authorised by the UK’s independent medicines regulator.

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