Biotech – The Cutting Edge: superconductors, mansion house et al

In a week when some are discussing the accuracy of the film version of Oppenheimer’s atomic bomb, we have been distracted by something equally as explosive (we are aware we may be being spoofed here. . .), which is the potential discovery of a room temperature superconductor. Conducting electricity with zero energy loss would be a truly revolutionary breakthrough and we suspect many labs will be scrambling around to try and make the relatively straightforward material (LK-99 or Pb10-xCux[PO4]6O), to check it out. We also discuss Wegovy/Ozempic, the new Mansion House Compact, why your plastic bag may end up lasting as long as a banana skin, and how some people are capable of remembering the music being played whilst they receive CPR.


The new Mansion House Compact. Readers will likely know of our perspective on these welcome policy changes (directing c.5% of all DC pension to private or illiquid assets by 2030). This week we were pleased to talk to the BIA about how we can help move this policy into practice. We have certainly got some ideas (that we will expand upon in the coming months) and there has been a great deal of effort going on behind the scenes. Please do give us a call if you would like to talk through this policy or its implications as we would love the feedback.

Super cool news. Well, actually it is more like ‘room temperature news’. We know it’s not strictly Biotech but the implications could be huge for this one. Three scientists in South Korea claim to have developed a superconductor material that works at room temperature and ambient pressure, which is genuinely extraordinary if true. See the video of the compound LK-99 here showing it levitating (due to the Meissner effect) off a normal magnet at room temperature. We know this has been suggested before – prior to being disproved/retracted, but all previous claims came alongside very complicated and time-consuming protocols to replicate the material. This one does not seem to, being relatively easy to make in most Physics labs. If it is shown to work the applications could be really quite disruptive – from energy storage to power plants, to electric motors to communications and medical applications. The authors are not being modest either, describing that they, “believe that our new development will be a brand-new historical event that opens a new era for humankind”. . . No pressure.

Banana-bag. Hate bringing a ‘bag for life’ along to the supermarket (or being ‘taxed’ for another six new ones every visit), well scientists may now be able to help you feel better about your ‘plastic use’. This new biodegradable plastic (made from spirulina) has mechanical properties comparable to regular plastic but it degrades as quickly as a banana. We cannot help but wonder if the bags turn brown by the time you get them home. . .

Pardon? We are sure many will share the experience of trying to persuade a relative to “put your hearing aids in”, only to then spend the next two hours repeating the conversation over and over again. Now, however, a study has shown that those at risk of dementia should use them in order to stave off cognitive decline.


Sedatives before CPR. . .no thanks, just get on with it. A study across 25 hospitals in the UK an US has revealed that c.39% of patients that survived a CPR event had some memory of events (including the music being played) whilst they were undergoing CPR after cardiac arrest. This has led some clinicians to suggest sedative drugs should be given in advance.

Here Wegovy again. Last month, we described how the UK Government had announced a pilot scheme for the weight loss ‘wonder’ pill Wegovy/Ozempic (semaglutide), and that we were pleased to see more being done to tackle obesity. Whilst we did raise some concerns at the time (weight loss plateau), the pills have now hit the headlines again, but now with more concerns around side effects and longer term use. This includes c.150 reports of suicidal thoughts, which has now triggered a review by the EMA. Furthermore, we read in The Times how once the medication is stopped, the weight lost will often be gained back; suggesting users of this medication may require longer term chronic treatment, which we did raise at the time.