Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cancer cells forming blood vessels send their copper to the edge

The level of machinations within a cell amazes me...(perhaps because I do not understand them...)

It's a good thing that there are people on the case...

ARGONNE, Ill. (Feb. 26, 2007) — New information about a link between the growth of blood vessels critical to the spread of cancer and the copper in our bodies has been discovered by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago, using a beamline at the Advanced Photon Source.

Growing new blood vessels from existing ones — a process called angiogenesis — is important in growth, development and wound healing. But it also enables the spread of tumors throughout the body, so researchers have been scrambling for ways to stop angiogenesis in the fight against cancer.

One element critical to blood vessel growth is copper, a vital nutrient that plays important roles in many life processes. Compounds that reduce copper in the body without disrupting the body's normal functions can inhibit the growth of blood vessels — and some of these compounds are even in clinical trials for use in cancer therapy. Yet, the biological basis for this sensitivity of angiogenesis to copper has been an enigma.

In search of an answer, researchers from the Biosciences and X-ray Science divisions at Argonne and the Department of Medicine, Section of Hematology/Oncology, at the University of Chicago, have used X-ray fluorescence microprobe imaging at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne, the Western Hemisphere's most brilliant source of X-rays for research. The X-rays allowed the researchers to look at the distribution of copper in both a cell model of angiogenesis and sections of breast tumor tissue rich in blood vessels.

link to full article

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

$110m to set up Kiryat Shmona “Biotech Valley”

Biotech is truly part of the global economy...

The planners believe that an industrial park will be set up with an initial 20 start-ups.
Gali Weinreb 26 Feb 07 16:51

The Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor together with the United Joint Israel Appeal (UJIA), the United Israel Appeals Federations Canada , Sacta Rashi Foundation, the Jewish Colonization Association, and the Jewish Agency are due to invest $110 million in establishing “Biotech Valley” near Tel Hai College. “Globes” broke the storey about the joint venture between the college, Meytav Technological Enterprises Innovation Center Ltd. in Kiryat Shmona, and the MIGAL - Galilee Technology Center, which is intended to attract top-quality biomedical researchers to live and work in the Upper Galilee.

link to full article

Friday, February 23, 2007

Pharmas to lose $100bn to generics

What does this tell us about the coming market?

22/02/2007 - A report to be published next week predicts that US and EU pharmas will lose up to $100bn in revenues over the next five years as generic products take advantage of major branded products losing patent protection.

The greatest impact will seen be between 2010 and 2012 as the patents covering Pfizer's blockbuster drug Lipitor (astorvastatin calcium) expire, according to the new report "Generic Competition 2007 to 2011 – The impact of patent expiries on sales of major drugs."

The drug achieved worldwide sales of almost $13bn (€9.9bn) in 2006, representing the biggest opportunity ever for the generics industry, according to the report.Patent expiration can cause revenues for the supplier to drop 10-fold over a period of just two years, said report author, Dr Peter Norman.

Eli Lilly experienced this first hand on expiration of Prozac's (fluoxetine) patent, and Bristol-Myers Squibb saw revenues for Plavix (clopidogrel bisulfate) drop 90 per cent within a quarter as generic clopidogrel hit the market following the branded product's patent expiry.

link to full article

Powerful anti-tumor compound created

Hopefully, this will be good news in the search for a cure...

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. cancer researchers say they have synthesized a compound that works in a different way than existing agents to block tumor cell growth.
Kazunori Koide and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh say the new compound is so potent that minute levels of 10 parts per trillion block the growth of tumor cells in laboratory experiments.

The parent compound, FR901464, inhibited the growth of cancer cells implanted into laboratory mice. Because of structural similarity between FR901464 and its analogue, meayamycin, the Koide group is cautiously optimistic meayamycin also will be effective against tumors in mice.
The amount that the Koide employed against cancer cells is equivalent to 10 seconds in 32,000 years or one packet of sugar in a coffee cup the size of 400 Olympic-size pools.

The report, which describes the compound as one of the most potent of all anti-cancer agents, is to appear in the March 7 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

link to article

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Johns Hopkins leads in research spending

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Johns Hopkins University was the fiscal 2005 leader in total research and development spending among all U.S. academic institutions, a report said.
Researchers at the Baltimore, Md.-based, school performed $1.44 billion in science, medical and engineering research during fiscal year 2005, which started Oct. 1, 2005, and ended Sept. 30, 2006.

The National Science Foundation said that makes Johns Hopkins the leading U.S. academic institution in total research and development spending for the 27th consecutive year.
The university also ranked first on the NSF's separate list of federally funded research and development, spending $1.277 billion during fiscal 2005 on research supported by such agencies as the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense.

The University of Michigan was second in total R&D spending at $808 million. The University of Washington ranked second in federally financed R & D at $606 million.

link to full article

The Job Creation Machines Notices Biotech...

City's latest top job ranking recognizes biotech impact...

It's not just real estate that makes the Phoenix area one of the nation's hottest job markets.
This month's Forbes list of the Best U.S. Cities for Jobs also recognizes efforts in attracting technology firms -- biotech in particular -- in ranking the region No. 2 for the second straight year.

Top honors went to Raleigh, N.C., with the magazine noting its stable housing market and the presence of three major universities, which help in attracting an educated work force and technology firms. Detroit landed at the bottom of the pack among the nation's largest 100 metro areas.

Rounding out the top five were Jacksonville, and Orlando, Fla., and Washington, D.C., last year's No. 1. Tucson checked in at No. 20 on the list of Best U.S. Cities for Jobs, up from 41 last year. Las Vegas, a perennial winner on the job front landed at No. 8, down from third place.
To compile the rankings Forbes used five data points, weighted equally: unemployment rate, job growth, income growth, median household income and cost of living. The Phoenix area ranked 16th for unemployment, fifth in job growth, second in income growth, 34th in median household income and 64th in cost of living.

link to full article

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Baxter FOY Presentation

The presentation topic for the ISPE meeting last Thursday night was the winning entry for last Year’s Facility of the Year competition, which was the Baxter project…

It looked like it was going to be a well-attended meeting due to the interest in the modular construction presentation topic…

I arrived early at the Holiday Inn…the traffic in North Jersey is such that if you want to get there at all, you have to get there early…I wandered around, admiring the nice collection of Beaux Arts architectural prints on the walls…everybody else was on their cell phone…

I had a bit of a chat with Mr. Inoue….see link to that post here…Mr. Inoue also noted that modular construction techniques were difficult implement in Japan due to over-the-road restrictions on module sizes, especially height. He indicated that the technique had been successfully used in remote areas that did not have similar restrictions.

I spent some time talking to some people from T+M Engineering…They are currently working on a pre-cast project in Northern NJ. In keeping with the theme of the evening, we all agreed that the construction speed of a pre-cast structure was something to be seen…

Conversations broke up when it was time for dinner to be served…given the crowd, it was difficult to find a seat… I tried to find a table with an open place to sit but it turned out to be like little kids playing musical chairs, and I wound up losing my seat while I was in the buffet line anyway…of course, by then, all of the other seats were taken… I eventually found a seat when they got more tables in place…Obviously, they weren’t keeping track of how many people were coming in the door as compared to how many places were set… other than that, dinner was fine…

When the presentation started, Mr. Signore of IPS made a brief introduction…

Mr. Ulrich Rudow, Vice President of World Wide Engineering & Real Estate for J+J provided a discussion regarding the judging process used in the competition…I think this was the most interesting part of the presentation, particularly if you are interested in submitting a project for consideration in future competitions.

I think he indicated there were 30 applications the first year and 50 this past year…Mr. Rudow joked about how many times he read about “world class”, fast-track”, and “best-in-class”…

He indicated the judges were looking for the “Ah hah” factor, or the “why didn’t I think of that?” type of reaction…

During the judging process, project applications were eliminated due to wrong data or data that was not internally consistent through out the presentation. Projects with only vague information also got the boot, or if the judges felt information was being concealed. Another important criterion was that the facility needed to be “ready to make product” and completely validated. He discussed issues involved in maintaining impartiality during the judging process and efforts to avoid any conflict of interest during the review process…

He indicated that size was not the determining factor in selecting the finalists, and pointed to the spectrum of project sizes among the five finalists as an example of other criteria being more important.

During the final judging, Mr. Rudow indicated that a point system was used to score the various entries and that he found that the judges all arrived at the same conclusions and had developed a solid consensus by the 3rd round of judging….

I thought it interesting that Mr. Rudow noted that we all provide engineering in pretty much the same way and only “tiny little differences” were all that ultimately separated the various entries…

Mr. Rudow concluded his remarks by noting that the judging effort was a lot of work and a lot of fun…

At this point the presentation was tuned over to Mr. Gordon Leichter of the Pharmadule, Inc.

Mr. Leichter presented briefly presented the five finalists and presented the winning entry in more detail…

The FOY Competition evaluates project entries against the following criteria:

- safety,
- significant contribution to industry,
- unique and innovative approaches
- quality
- project management techniques

The Baxter Project combined modular stick-built construction techniques with new construction of an addition and renovation of an existing structure.

Mr. Leichter indicated that a critical part of the project success was that the client had prior experience with modular construction with Pharmadule and understood the process of working within the requirements of this approach…

Mr. Leichter made a very interesting presentation, which included a lot of good pictures of the actual construction of both the module fabrication and field construction activities.…

The modular approach allowed site preparation activities to be undertaken while modules were being fabricated off-site…so far off-site, it was fabricated in another country…that’s off-site…

Modular construction does seem to go very quickly in the field. Mr. Leichter indicated that 6 modules were placed per day with the project being comprised of 62 total modules arranged in a three story layout…Overall module size was 14’-6” x 14’-6” x 45’ long, and this size was determined by over-the-road transportation restrictions…I found it interesting that Pharmadule also validated the facility as part of their project scope.

It appeared that more than one full year of conceptual and preliminary design time was not included in the reported project schedule for the competition… assuming I understood the presentation correctly…I am very surprised the judging committee did not focus on this issue more closely…

A young lady asked an interesting question regarding at what point in the project did the decision to apply to the FOY take place…I was also wondering if you start out the project with this as a goal in mind, or if you wind up realizing you have a candidate project after the fact…I didn’t quite follow Mr. Leichter’s answer…

Various other questions came up around other issues involved in modular approach to project execution and the trend toward this approach…Mr. Leichter indicated that modular execution would be a paradigm shift for most project teams…

It was noted that equipment layout must be coordinated with module layout in this construction technique…particularly for larger equipment like autoclaves or lyophilizers, and spread out equipment like the filling line set-ups …

The obvious question regarding cost premium came up and Mr. Leichter indicated it was quite a common question. He was understandably reluctant to quote an exact figure but indicated that a 10-15% premium could be expected after the completion of a conceptual layout.

Other issues came up regarding risk associated with this approach to project execution… Reaction at my table was that the risks involved in this type of approach were not discussed or addressed as part of the presentation.

In looking at the brochure material handed out as part of the presentation, there were more projects executed in this manner that I would have thought, although I am not sure how many have been successfully completed in the U.S…most seemed to be located in Europe.

Reaction from the audience indicated that most everyone felt it was an interesting presentation…

Clearly more answers to specific questions are needed to completely evaluate the modular approach to capital project execution…more than can be raised at a dinner meeting sales presentation… and more than can be covered here…

An interesting topic, which I am sure will be discussed in much more detail in the future…I am also sure other projects are being considered for execution in this manner and we should follow the progress of these projects carefully for more information.

Obviously, modular construction is a growing trend and is attracting a lot of interest, even if you only judge based on the size of the crowd in attendance…

More information can be found at the Pharmadule website at

Monday, February 19, 2007

Lawmakers propose pathway for approving biosimilars

A group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill has introduced legislation that establishes a clear pathway for the approval of biosimilars. The bill has already attracted the wide support of a diverse group of lobbyists, including the AARP, health plans and pharmacy benefit managers, who would like to see the price of complex biotech drugs go down. BIO has long been on record that it isn't necessarily opposed to biosimilars--cheaper follow-on versions of branded biotech drugs--but insists that the complexity of biologics requires the FDA to insist on a separate set of expensive studies before any follow-on therapy can be approved. In Europe the EMEA has had a regulatory pathway in place for almost three years.

link to full article and related report

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Astra Zeneca Pledges $10M to Cancer Society

Good news...I wish more pharma companies would step up like this...

ATLANTA (AP) -- A drug company is pledging $10 million to The American Cancer Society - one of the largest gifts in the organization's history - to help provide one-on-one support for cancer patients in U.S. hospitals, the organization announced Wednesday.

The unusual gift is from AstraZeneca PLC, an international pharmaceutical company.
It's earmarked for a program that stations specially-trained Cancer Society employees in 60 hospitals and cancer treatment centers. The "navigators" guide patients to social and emotional support, transportation, medical and financial assistance services.

The gift will allow the program to expand to 50 more locations in medically underserved areas, said Nancy Single, the Cancer Society's vice president for mission strategy.

link to full article

AIDS virus weakness detected


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have captured an image of the AIDS virus in a biological handshake with the immune cells it attacks, and said on Wednesday they hope this can help lead to a better vaccine against the incurable disease.

They pinpointed a place on the outside of the human immunodeficiency virus that could be vulnerable to antibodies that could block it from infecting human cells.

U.S. National Institutes of Health researcher Peter Kwong said the study, published in the journal Nature, may reveal HIV's long-sought "site of vulnerability" that can be targeted with a vaccine aimed at preventing initial infection.

"Having that site and knowing that you can make antibodies against it means that a vaccine is possible," Kwong said in a telephone interview.

link to full article

Googling brain proteins with 3-D goggles

Cool new technology...

RICHLAND, Wash. — The Allen Brain Atlas, a genome-wide map of the mouse brain on the Internet, has been hailed as “Google of the brain.” The atlas now has a companion or the brain’s working molecules, a sort of pop-up book of the proteins, or proteome map, that those genes express.

The protein map is “the first to apply quantitative proteomics to imaging,” said Richard D. Smith, Battelle Fellow at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who led the mapping effort with Desmond Smith of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.
“Proteins are the lead actors, the most important part of the picture,” PNNL’s Smith said. “They are the molecules that do the work of the cells.”

Fine-tuning such proteome maps will enable comparisons of healthy brains with others whose protein portraits look different. Contrasts in location and abundance of proteins may display the earliest detectable stages of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases. They hope such diseases might be curbed if caught and treated early enough.

The National Institutes of Health-funded study, performed at DOE’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory on PNNL’s campus, is published in the advance online edition of Genome Research and featured in current Nature online Neuroscience Gateway ( PNNL staff scientists Vladislav A. Petyuk, Wei-Jun Qian and UCLA’s Mark Chin are co-lead authors.

To produce the map, the team characterized center-brain slices as several dozen 1 millimeter cubes, or “voxels,” to “show us where proteins appear in the brain and where they vary in abundance,” PNNL’s Smith said. “We labeled all the proteins so we would have reference points so we know we’re looking at the same protein between different parts of the brain and from one mouse to another.”

link to full article

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What friends have been up to...

It’s always interesting to find out what friends have been up to …I have been in touch with a lot of friends and colleagues lately…

I heard from Mike Dockery the other day…he called in from the other side of the pond…

He has been in the US lately, and he indicated that he has been very involved in the Labs21 effort and in trying to bring a similar effort to Europe called Labs21 UK.

He was also interviewed for an article in the latest issue of Nature magazine in an article titled "Energy efficiency: Super savers: Experimenting with efficiency". The article covers energy savings as one of the most effective means to reduce greenhouse gases…He is quoted as saying “Europe can teach the US a thing or two…” about sustainable lab design.

I haven’t seen the full article…Nature charges a lot to read it’s articles on line…if anyone gets a look at the full article, let me know…

It was good to hear from Mike…I wish him well with his latest efforts…maybe I’ll try to get him to crank out a post or two…

My conversation with Mr. Inoue

While attending the ISPE meeting last Thursday night, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Mikio Inoue. We wound up having a pleasant conversation regarding his involvement with the competition and some other aspects of the pharm/bio industry.

We had both arrived at the meeting early and were waiting for the festivities to begin and I took the opportunity to introduce myself. We were exchanging pleasantries typical of being just introduced at a meeting and discussing the fact that it seemed like it was going to be crowded based on the Baxter FOY presentation.

Look for a review of that presentation coming shortly…

Mr. Inoue mentioned that he had been involved in the FOY competition (website link) and he was attending tonight to provide local representation for the project and his company.

I noticed he had a Facility of the Year sweatshirt on and we began to discuss his involvement with the competition.

It dawned on me that this was going to be a better conversation than the usual “Consultant meets Vendor at an industry function”... you know the type….we’ve all had a million of them…
With his permission I started scrawling some notes…I hope this captures the basics of our conversation, I do not have any actual training as a reporter, so bear with me…

Mr. Inoue had participated in a very successful project for the Daiichi Asubio Pharma Co., Ltd (website link). The project is a multi-product production facility located in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. Descriptions of the five finalist projects are available here at the FOY website (website link).

The project was a finalist in the 2006 Facility of the Year competition, which is how he got the sweatshirt. The competition is sponsored by ISPE, INTERPHEX, and Pharmaceutical Processing magazine.

He was very knowledgeable about the project and had a lot of detailed information regarding building layout, processes, and equipment involved in the project. The facility is capable of multi-product and multi-scale production and launch operations. The major pieces of process equipment were provided from a very geographically diverse set of countries. Mr. Inoue stated that part of the success of the project was having the architect understand the process to be supported by the facility.

Mr. Inoue indicated that the project was reviewed with the FDA in order to align the project with regulatory expectations. We both agreed that a Type C Meeting with the FDA is a very valuable step and allows for valuable input to be provided by the FDA in a more casual setting.

He was very knowledgeable about the project type and had some interesting rules of thumb regarding building size and process valve count. We also discussed the level of automation a project might have based on differences in approach between the level of automation between Japanese and US approaches to plant operation.

Mr. Inoue described the typical Japanese approach of using a high level of automation and centralized DCS systems in order to limit manual interaction of the operators in the production process. This approach also reduces labor costs associated with the plant operators and also addresses the difficulties of staffing a plant with operations personnel.

This approach is in contrast to the equipment specific PLC/ “islands of automation” approach that is often found in plants built here in the US. This results in less centralized control, beyond data gathering, and more manual interactions with the process. We discussed how the US approach may be driven by an operating company’s regulatory history, risk aversion, perceived complexities and costs of validation efforts associated with complex automation and control systems.

Both approaches are driven by the need to respond to the expense and availability of operator labor. While these are not hard and fast approaches, it represents a philosophical difference in each countries typical approach to the industry.

Mr. Inoue holds a PhD and is the General Manager of the Pharmaceutical & Biotechnology Project Division for the Fujikin of America Inc.

Mr. Inoue has recently moved to the US and is living and working in New Jersey. When asked how he found living in NJ, he replied “tough…” When I heard his response, my first thought was “well, it is New Jersey…” home of the Sopranos, the Jersey Turnpike, and the Attitude Capital of the World

Mr. Inoue indicated he is very involved in the ISPE New Jersey Chapter activities. He had attended the Holiday Cruise party and would also be going to the Nets- Spurs game coming up on date.

Mr. Inoue can be contacted by phone at (201) 641-1119 or via e-mail at minoue AT (substitute the "@" symbol for e-mail address...)

I guess I should try to introduce myself to more people more often when I go to ISPE meetings.
A lot of highly qualified and experienced people attend and I would probably be able to have a lot of interesting conversations.

I consider myself lucky to have met Mr. Inoue and to have had such an interesting conversation.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Males more prone to cloning

Prone to cloning???...It's a guy thing...

Cloning researchers who wish to boost their success rates should try using male cells, researchers say. The advice is based on a new study which showed that mouse embryos created from male adult cells were more than three times as likely to develop to term as those created from female adult cells.

Cloning an adult animal usually involves putting the nucleus from an adult cell into an egg that has been stripped of its chromosomes. However, progress has been hindered by the fact that "reprogramming" adult nuclei in this way has very low success rates.

To get around this problem, a team led by Peter Mombaerts and Elaine Fuchs at Rockefeller University in New York, US, tried using adult skin stem cells, which are less differentiated and so should be easier to reprogram.

The success rate was still very low, but they did find that 5.4% of embryos created from male cells developed to term, compared with 1.6% for comparable cells from females.
More tests are now needed to confirm whether this sex bias holds true for other cell types.

link to full article

Monday, February 12, 2007

When India is having trouble finding qualified people, we're all in trouble...

Noted scientist Dr. K Muniyappa has regretted that though the number of colleges offering biotechnology degrees in the country has grown by leaps and bounds during the last some years, the quality of the education imparted in these colleges is a subject for deep concern.

"The Indian biotechnology sector is facing an acute shortage of trained manpower and there is a lack of initiative for development of competent human resources," he said. There is an urgent need for the Union government to earmark a portion of the budget towards quality training of manpower in biotechnology.

The observation by the research institutes and the industry is that the present knowledge among biotech graduates makes them unemployable. In the post-graduate sector, many of the candidates are even unfit for on-the-job training.

"With the growing popularity of biotechnology among the students, there has been a spurt in the number of colleges offering biotechnology degrees, but the quality of training offered is a question," Dr Muniyappa, professor and chairman, department of biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science told Pharmabiz. "

Graduate students contribute the most, if not all to our research output in many disciplines. In India, the emphasis is on training rather than research productivity. This has led pharma-biotech sector to insist for candidates who have either studied or worked abroad only because of the quality of personnel in India are just not employable," Dr Muniyappa, who is also the founding coordinator, National DBT Post-doctoral Programme in Biotechnology and Lifesciences, added.

link to full article

Pharm Country ranks 3rd in bio jobs

A new national study ranked the Philadelphia area third in bioscience employment.
The nine-county region, with 53,036 biosciences jobs, trailed top-ranked New York and Los Angeles -- and finished ahead of Chicago and well-established biotech hubs Boston and San Francisco.

Battelle, a nonprofit independent research firm, conducted the study for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a national trade group based in Washington, D.C. The report issued last week is the latest attempt to identify the leaders among the many regions in the country that have engaged in highly publicized attempts to lure sought-after life science jobs.

"This report illustrates that nearly every large metropolitan area in the United States is actively pursuing bioscience industry development," said Patrick Kelly, vice president of state government relations for BIO. "The biosciences not only have the potential to create high-skill, high-wage jobs, but the industry is also developing technologies that can improve the quality of health care and agriculture and help meet our nation's growing energy needs."

link to full article

Pfizer says to cut jobs and production in Ireland

more on the Pfizer situation...

DUBLIN, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc. (PFE.N: Quote, Profile , Research) said on Thursday it planned to end or reduce manufacturing at three sites in southern Ireland, resulting in the loss of at least 65 jobs.

The U.S. drugs maker, which last month said it would cut 7,800 jobs in a bid to save $1 billion by the end of 2008, said the move was part of a plan to reduce Pfizer's global plant network by more than 50 percent over four years.

Failure to get potential new drugs onto the market, new technology, moving operations to countries where production is cheaper and lower sales due to higher competition had all contributed to the decision to cut capacity in Ireland.

The company's decision last December to end trials of its cholesterol drug, torcetrapib, due to safety concerns had been "by far the most significant factor impacting future capacity demand in Ireland," Terry Lambe, Pfizer's vice president of manufacturing for Ireland and Singapore, said in a statement.

Pfizer said it planned to close part of its Ringaskiddy site in County Cork by the end of 2007, resulting in the likely loss of 65 jobs.

link to full article

Sunday, February 04, 2007

New international guidelines for stem cell science

The first international guidelines on human embryonic stem cell research, released on Thursday, echo public opinion in calling for a ban on human reproductive cloning. But they are already proving controversial in other angles.

Although the guidelines are not legally binding, they carry the weight of leading scientific opinion and are likely to be influential in many countries.
Written by a committee of leading stem cell scientists, the guidelines take a permissive stance on two key issues: paying women to donate eggs for research, and controls on projects involving human/animal chimeras.

Guidelines issued in 2005 by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and laws in other countries, including the UK, prohibit using cash payments to induce women to donate eggs for research. But the new guidelines, issued by the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), suggest that the question of payments should be left to local ethical committees.

link to full article

Altering Virus Coats May Halt Flu Spread


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Making a small change in the outer coating of the lethal 1918 flu virus was enough to stop it from spreading, a discovery that may help scientists monitor today's bird flu and other influenza strains for signs of the next pandemic.

The 1918 pandemic was triggered by a bird virus that mutated into one that could attack humans, going on to kill a staggering 50 million people worldwide in a matter of months.
To learn what caused that catastrophic bird-to-human transformation, scientists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention turned back the clock: They worked with recreated batches of the actual H1N1 flu strain that spawned the 1918 pandemic, but they altered two spots in a key protein to make that virus a little more birdlike again.

Then the researchers dripped the altered virus into the noses of ferrets, who catch and spread influenza like humans do.

The infected ferrets still sickened and died as the flu ravaged their lungs. But remarkably, they didn't infect healthy ferrets caged right next to them, the CDC team reports in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

link to full article

Friday, February 02, 2007

BioHealth Investor- Blog of the Week...

I don't usually focus too much on the financial side of the industry...and I think the biggest reason is there are other people out there doing a good job, way better than I could do...

BioHealth Investor- biotech stocks, news, and commentary

PPB Blog of the Week

check it out...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Small changes stop flu virus spread, study finds

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two little changes in the virus that caused the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic stopped it from spreading from one animal to another, a finding that may help determine what will cause the next pandemic, scientists reported on Thursday.

Researchers who have been studying a reconstructed version of the 1918 virus found it very easy to stop it from spreading from one infected ferret to another -- although the altered viruses still quickly killed the animals.

"Work on the 1918 virus is providing clues that are helping us evaluate other influenza viruses with pandemic potential, such as H5N1, that may emerge," said Dr. Terrence Tumpey, a U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention microbiologist who led the study.

"With this vital research, we are learning more about what may have contributed to the spread and deadliness of the 1918 pandemic," CDC' Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said in a statement.

"By better understanding how this virus spreads, we can be better positioned to slow down or stop the spread of the pandemic virus and hence be better prepared for the next pandemic."

link to full article

GSK invests in new Irish facility

New Construction...overseas, for OTC products...who's looking for work in Ireland?...

01/02/2007 - Major pharmaceutical player GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has begun construction of a €23m facility in County Waterford, Ireland.

The new facility is already under construction at the company’s consumer healthcare manufacturing site in Dungarvan.The new plant will be a 2,700 square metre facility for granulation and compression for the company's over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, such as the firm's leading OTC analgesic, Panadol (paracetamol/acetominophen).

No one from GSK was available to comment on the new investment, but media reports state that the company believes the move highlights the strategic importance of the Dungarvan site to the global supply of the firm's OTC products.

Aside from Panadol, 6 billion tablets of which are produced by the company's factories annually, the company's other OTC products include a range of smoking control products, gastro-intestinal and dermatological products. In 2004, GSK also obtained the marketing rights to orlistat in the US, a prescription product for obesity management approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and currently marketed by Roche as Xenical.

In 2005 OTC medicines generated sales of around £1.4m for the company, almost 50 per cent of the total sales from the firm's consumer healthcare division.

GSK has manufacturing facilities at two sites in Ireland, one in County Cork in addition to the Dungarvan site.

link to full article