The Dish’s Weekly News Wrap Up – February 1, 2013

This week’s headlines include, new biomanufacturing technologies, expanded programs from SBIR, vaccine news, biosimilar fight takes to the states, predictions for the future of pharmaceutical R&D, and stem Cell Therapy in development is effective at treating stroke in rats.

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Cell Culture Events:

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“Biotech Firms in Race for Manufacturing Breakthrough,” MIT Technology Review

“Two leading biotechnology companies are competing to be the first to implement cheaper, faster processes for producing drugs inside living cells, making it easier to manufacture human proteins, antibodies, and other medications.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “In Celebration of Chinese Hamster Ovary CHO Cells – a Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Powerhouse


“SBIR Thinks Smaller,” Genetic Engineering News

“Monday, January 28, marks a new era for the U.S. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, as new rules take effect that are designed to draw more small businesses in biopharma and other technologies to SBIR and its companion Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR). The changes were written more than a year ago into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, part of which reauthorized SBIR and STTR for six years through the 2017 fiscal year. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which fought for the changes, predicted in a statement that SBIR “now will be an aggressively competitive program that fulfills federal research and development goals of bringing breakthrough public health discoveries to the public.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “How Stem Cells Can Play a Major Role in Developing New Therapeutics


“Biotech Firms, Billions at Risk, Lobby States to Limit Generics,” The New York Times

“In statehouses around the country, some of the nation’s biggest biotechnology companies are lobbying intensively to limit generic competition to their blockbuster drugs, potentially cutting into the billions of dollars in savings on drug costs contemplated in the federal health care overhaul law. The complex drugs, made in living cells instead of chemical factories, account for roughly one-quarter of the nation’s $320 billion in spending on drugs, according to IMS Health. And that percentage is growing. They include some of the world’s best-selling drugs, like the rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis drugs Humira and Enbrel and the cancer treatments Herceptin, Avastin and Rituxan. The drugs now cost patients — or their insurers — tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled Comments on Biosimilar Guidance Indicate Discontent on Both Sides of the Issues”


“A Coming Renaissance in Pharmaceutical Research and Development?” Forbes

“Recent news suggests we could be on the verge of a renaissance in pharmaceutical R&D – which would be terrific news for patients and health care systems here and around the world. A report just released by the Analysis Group says: More than 5,000 potential new medicines are being evaluated in human testing – an all-time record.  More than 800 are in Phase 3 – the last stage of human testing.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Can Stable Expression Levels be Achieved in a Transient Expression System – Expi293


“Life Establishes International Flu Network,” Fierce Vaccines

“An unusually widespread flu season–complete with vaccine shortages and high demand–has scientists and vaccine makers working to develop a quickly produced and long-lasting shot. Life Technologies ($LIFE) took a step in this direction with the establishment of the Global Influenza Network. The network is a partnership of scientists, leading government public health organizations, veterinary agencies and research institutes working to develop a speedy and efficient flu monitoring system and a better vaccine. Participants share data, tools and experience to move toward a common goal.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled Severe Flu Season Puts Spotlight on New Vaccine Developments and Existing Challenges


“Stem Cell “First Aid” for Rat Stroke,” BBC News

“Stem cells given in the vital period immediately after a stroke may aid recovery, suggest researchers. Rats injected with stem cells 30 minutes after a stroke had almost normal brain function restored within a fortnight. The Bolivian research team say the method has potential in human trials. Current best practice is to treat many patients with “clot-busting” drugs in the “golden hour” after a stroke has taken place. The research, published in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy, adds to others which have found that stem cells could aid stroke patients by boosting the body’s ability to repair tissue damage.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Identifying Options for Stem Cell Based Therapy Scale-Up


“Bloomberg View: Engage Big Pharma to Help Fight the Flu,” Bloomberg Businessweek

“Influenza vaccines are the best weapons we’ve got against a disease that each year kills as many as a half-million people, including 3,000 to 49,000 Americans. Yet this season’s worse-than-usual flu in the U.S. underscores the limitations of the existing vaccines. Shortcomings include the inability to rapidly expand vaccine supply in the event of an especially bad flu and the need to vaccinate people with a new formulation almost every year as the virus mutates. These are problems enough when coping with regular seasonal flu. They spell potential disaster in the case of pandemic flu, which occurs sporadically (most recently in 2009) when an animal strain of the virus jumps to humans.”

If you like this story, please see our blog titled “A First – Cell Culture Based Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Approved by the FDA”

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