Friday, June 30, 2006

Killer tomatoes attack human diseases

Those crazy Russians are at it again...

here's hoping it works...

GENETICALLY modified tomatoes containing edible vaccine are to be used to challenge two of the world's most lethal viruses.

The aim is to create affordable vaccines for HIV and the hepatitis B virus (HBV) that could be easily grown and processed in the countries where they are most needed. So far, none of the 90 or so potential vaccines against HIV have proved successful and, though a vaccine already exists for HBV, it is too expensive to be used by poorer countries.

Rurik Salyaev at the Siberian Institute of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry in Irkutsk, Russia, and his colleagues used the soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens to shuttle a synthetic combination of HIV and HBV DNA fragments into tomato plants. These include fragments of genes for various HIV proteins and the gene for an HBV protein called HBV surface antigen.

The tomato plants then manufacture the proteins and, like the oral polio vaccine, when the tomatoes are eaten, these proteins prompt the body to create antibodies against the viruses.

link to full article

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Disgraced SKorean cloning expert plans to resume research

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea's disgraced cloning expert Hwang Woo-Suk, on trial over charges of fraud and embezzlement, will resume research work as early as next month, his laywer has said.

"Dr. Hwang will resume his research next month. He will set up a private lab somewhere in Seoul," his defence lawyer Lee Geon-Haeng told AFP. "Some donors will provide funds for him to restart his study."

About 30 of his former assistants will join the new lab but Hwang's top two lieutenants, including Lee Byeong-Chun who is credited with creating the world's first cloned dog last year, will not join the team.

Hwang will focus on animal cloning experiments because he was deprived of a government license for human stem cell research in March, a month after experts concluded that his landmark research papers were bogus.

link to full article

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bill Gates To End Regular Duties At Microsoft By July 2008

Did you ever think the computer/ tech industry would impact the pharmaceutical market like this?

Devote Full-Time Efforts To Gates Foundation

Update: Warren Buffett gives away his fortune

Bill Gates on Thursday announced plans to relinquish over the next two years all daily work duties at Microsoft, the company he founded, and work fulltime for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which to date has spent more than $10 billion on programs to fight HIV/AIDS and other global health concerns and reform education, the Los Angeles Times reports (Gaither/Yue Jones, Los Angeles Times, 6/16). Melinda and Bill Gates and Irish musician Bono in December 2005 were named TIME magazine's "Persons of the Year" for their efforts to improve global health and eradicate poverty. The Gates Foundation has an endowment of $29 billion (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/19/05). According to the Times, the foundation's spending "rivals" that of the World Health Organization (Los Angeles Times, 6/16). The Gates Foundation accounts for more than half of worldwide spending, about $159 million, on research and treatment for diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. "With success, I have been given great wealth," Bill Gates said, adding, "And with great wealth comes great responsibility to give back to society, to see that those resources are put to work in the best possible way to help those in need" (Kehaulani Goo, Washington Post, 6/16). Bill Gates will remain chair of Microsoft and have the title of "senior technical adviser" after the transition is complete (Keefe, Cox/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/16).

link to full article

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Gene called "Nanog" could be key to master cells

LONDON (Reuters) - A gene named after the mythical Celtic land of the ever young could help explain how to reprogram adult cells into embryonic stem cells to treat diseases, researchers said on Wednesday.

They discovered that the gene called Nanog helped to transform adult mouse cells into embryonic stem cells after cell fusion -- when two cells are combined to form a hybrid.

"The effect of Nanog is remarkable. All the hybrid cells became fully converted to embryonic stem cells," said Dr Jose Silva of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, who reported the findings in the journal Nature.

Stem cells are master cells in the body. Scientists believe they could act as type of human repair system to provide new therapies for illnesses ranging from diabetes to Parkinson's.

Embryonic stem cells found in early embryos have the potential to make any type of cell or tissue. Adult stem cells have a more limited range.

link to full article

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sandoz approval could open the floodgates for biosimilars in US

let's get some floodgates open...even if it takes using the word "biosimilar"...

06/06/2006 - German biopharma firm Sandoz has won a landmark first-of its-kind biosimilar drug approval in the US after a long battle with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The decision could open the floodgates for generics manufacturers in this lucrative market.

Following the green light for Sandoz's copycat biologic growth hormone drug, Omnitrope, the company is now ramping up manufacturing at its fermentation plant in Kundl, Austria and expects to have the drug on the US market by the end of the year.
Omnitrope was approved in Europe in April by the European Commission and is already on the market in Germany, with launches planned in further European countries later this year. The drug was also launched in Australia in November last year.

According to the FDA Omnitrope is not officially called a generic because it is not rated as therapeutically equivalent to any of the other approved human growth hormone (hGH) products. It is however “sufficiently similar” to a product already approved and is thus given the term "follow-on protein product." In Europe the preferred term is ‘biosimilar'.

link to full article

Friday, June 02, 2006

Harvard makes ambitious life sciences gamble

some more people who see biotech as the new economic engine...

Harvard, no less...

CAMBRIDGE, Mass (Reuters) - As Harvard University searches for a new leader, questions loom over its last president's most ambitious project: turning America's oldest university into the nation's hub for life sciences.

During his 5-year tenure as the university's president, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers worked to put Harvard at the forefront of research on how the human cell works, a question the school's founders and the Massachusetts Bay Colony's Puritan leaders would have kept in the province of religion alone.

Nearly four centuries later, Harvard's plans -- which include building a new campus of buildings -- fit well with Massachusetts' desire to rejuvenate its economy by encouraging biotechnology firms to replace the region's long-fading manufacturing base.

"For Boston to survive (it) is by being on the cutting edge of new ideas and technology," said Harvard economics professor Edward Glaeser, who is also director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, a research group. "And the vision Larry Summers has for Harvard is that it would play a major role in the life sciences and not sit this one out."

link to full article

United States seen lagging on stem cell research

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States is lagging behind Britain and other leading nations on stem cell research, a visiting U.S. Congressional delegation said on Thursday.

Scientists believe that stem cells, master cells in the body that can develop into any cell type, could be used to treat diseases ranging from diabetes to Parkinson's.

But their use is controversial because the most promising stem cells for treating human diseases are derived from very early human embryos.

The United has restricted federal funding of stem cell research which Colorado Democrat Rep. Diana DeGette said has forced some American scientists to relocate to countries which have more lenient policies.

"In addition, leadership in this area of research has shifted to the United Kingdom, which sees this scientific area as a cornerstone of its biotech industry," she said in a statement.

link to full article