Monday, February 27, 2006

Calif. Stem Cell Agency Fights for Life

People actually fighting against the job delivery machine...

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The future of embryonic stem cell research could be shaped in a suburban courtroom where two taxpayer groups are challenging the legality of California's new agency dedicated to the controversial field.

Opening statements were scheduled for Monday in a pair of lawsuits seeking to invalidate the law that created the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which is authorized to hand out $3 billion in research grants. The lawsuits allege - among other things - that it violates a state constitutional mandate that the spending of taxpayer dollars be under state control.

"The act delegates the disbursal of huge sums of public money to the unfettered discretion of an institution whose governing board and working groups are unaccountable to the public," one of the lawsuits said.

When voters created the institute in November 2004, stem cell scientists saw it as giving new traction to a field hamstrung by federal limitations on funding.

link to full AP article

Thursday, February 16, 2006

New weight-loss drug backed in study

We all have high blood pressure
We all have high chloresteral

The next blockbuster...

We're all FAT!!!...

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An anti-obesity drug that turns off the same brain circuits which trigger the marijuana-induced munchies appears to produce sustained weight loss among patients who took it in a two-year study, researchers said on Tuesday.

The report by New York's Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons also said the drug -- Sanofi-Aventis SA's Acomplia, or rimonabant -- needs additional study for its long-term effects and said the research was limited by a high dropout rate. The drug company funded the study.

The drug is awaiting an approval decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However there has been speculation that it could become the world's first blockbuster anti-obesity medicine, with analysts estimating sales topping $3 billion a year.

link to full reuters article

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Glaxo buys Pliva's R&D drug unit in $50 mln deal

I think we're going to see a lot of this kind of deal...the big companies will be spending money to buy other companies in order to get something in the pipeline...

LONDON/ZAGREB Feb 14 (Reuters) - Europe's biggest drugmaker, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, said on Tuesday it had bought the research institute of Croatian drug maker Pliva in a deal worth up to $50 million.

Pliva will receive an upfront sum of $35 million with possible further payments of up to $15 million depending on the entry of certain early stage projects into clinical development.

Pliva will also receive royalties on certain experimental drugs if they reach the market.

link to full Reuters artcile

Monday, February 13, 2006

N.J. Buoys Efforts of Biotech Entrepreneurs

Feb. 12--The scores of biotechnology companies that dot the New Jersey landscape do everything from extract enzymes from pig hearts and electric eels to "re-engineer" human cells.

But they all seem to have one thing in common -- a motivating entrepreneurial spirit that allows the staff to overlook the risks inherent to the burgeoning industry and work toward a common goal.

"You have to have a lot of faith to do this," said Dr. Andrew Pecora, the chairman and executive director of Hackensack University Medical Center's Cancer Center, who for nearly a decade has run a small biotech company in the growing field of cell therapy.

In many instances, biotech companies gamble on a single product, a treatment that with regulatory approval might one day generate millions of dollars in profits or be sold for millions to a large pharmaceutical company.

But, according to Debbie Hart, president of the Biotechnology Council of New Jersey, it often takes a decade or more and $1 billion in investments before that product reaches its intended patients, if it reaches them at all.

New Jersey's efforts to create an environment where entrepreneurs will believe the risks are worth it include tax credits, grants and loans to biotech start-ups, research funding, and even office rent subsidies.

And two years ago New Jersey established a $10 million venture capital fund to provide seed money for new companies.

For its efforts, the state was recently named one of the top five biotech regions in the world by FierceBiotech, an influential industry trade publication.

Hart said a new survey to be released in the spring is likely to reveal that the number of biotechs has risen to more than 150 from 80 in 1998.

link to full article

Friday, February 10, 2006

Pitt Critical of Stem Cell Researcher

My oldest is considering Pitt for college...

PITTSBURGH - A U.S. stem-cell expert committed "research misbehavior" in his work with a now-disgraced South Korean scientist, but his actions don't constitute scientific wrongdoing, university investigators said Friday.

The University of Pittsburgh Research Integrity panel concluded that Dr. Gerald Schatten "likely did not intentionally falsify or fabricate experimental data" and said there was no evidence he knew of misconduct in Dr. Hwang Woo-suk's work in South Korea.

However, it found that Schatten, as co-author with Hwang on a 2005 article, "did not exercise a sufficiently critical perspective as a scientist."

The article purported to show the creation of stem cells from the world's first cloned human embryos.

link to full AP article

Thursday, February 09, 2006


In U.S. Cancer Deaths, A Minus May Be a Plus

No one is declaring victory, but the number of Americans dying from cancer has dropped for the first time, according to a report being released today.

The most recent federal data show that deaths from cancer fell from 557,271 in 2002 to 556,902 in 2003. While it was a decline of only 369, it marked the first documented drop since the government started collecting statistics in 1930.

"This represents a real milestone," said Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society, which analyzed the data.

The death rate from cancer has been dropping since the early 1990s, but the total number of Americans dying continued to increase because the population is growing and getting older.

Link to full artcile from the Washington Post

Friday, February 03, 2006

Apocalypse now: fears of gene doping are realised

Unleashing the power of the human genome...will make unleashing the unleashing of the power of the atom look like child's play...

who said that?

A new substance has emerged that suggests the next stage in the drugs battle has started

THE grim new world of gene doping, for so long viewed as the apocalyptic future of illegal performance-enhancement in sport, has dawned in Germany. Experts had been concerned that advances in gene therapy would start to impact on sport by the time of the Beijing Olympics in 2008. However, evidence from a court case in Magdeburg, Germany, suggests that a new brand of cheats could be injecting in time for the Turin Winter Games, which start next week.

Gene doping is the big fear among those fighting for clean sport. It involves manipulation of the human genetic code and thus evades standard detection methods. And a German court has identified the distribution among coaches of a substance called Repoxygen, which works in this way to produce erythropoietin (EPO) indigenously.

“You would have to be blind not to see that the next generation of doping will be genetic,” Dick Pound, the chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, told scientists only two months ago. It seems that this next generation has arrived.

link to full article