This week’s headlines include, Nobel Prize winners, unprecedented transparency pledge by Glaxo, new stem Cell Therapy developments, and protection needed for genome sequencing patients.
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The 2012 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded Monday to Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka for work that revolutionized the understanding of how cells and organisms develop. Gurdon, 79, of Dippenhall, England, and Yamanaka, 50, of Osaka, Japan, share the prize jointly for their discovery that “mature, specialized cells can be reprogrammed to become immature cells capable of developing into all tissues of the body,” according to the Nobel Assembly, which consists of 50 professors at the Karolinska Institute.
If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Tumor Cell Panels Help Researchers Develop New Cancer Treatments”
In an unprecedented move that could signal dramatic changes in the drug industry, GlaxoSmithKline is promising to make detailed data from its clinical trials available to independent researchers so that scientists can draw their own conclusions about the safety and effectiveness of its new drugs. The change, which has yet to be implemented, is being announced at a speech in London at the Wellcome Trust, where Glaxo chief executive Andrew Witty is also detailing how the British drug giant has made its chemical libraries available to researchers working on drugs against tuberculosis and malaria. It could be a dramatic change for a company that has been dogged by scandal over lack of disclosure.
If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Key Considerations for Improved Quality in Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing”
A government panel issued a report Thursday calling for consistent policies and laws to protect the privacy of patients who submit to whole genome sequencing and to ensure the data security. The tests provide a blueprint of each person’s genes and offer insights into health and disease processes that could bring about new treatments and cures.
As the costs of sequencing have become affordable, dropping from millions of dollars to a thousand dollars, the tests are expected to become routine among physicians and researchers. The panel recommends officials create laws at the state and federal level to prevent the data from falling into the hands of insurance companies, employers and others who could use it as a form of discrimination, to ensure patients are told when being tested, and to hold collectors, storers and users of the information accountable for any breaches of data.
If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Is Personalized Medicine the Future? How Genetic Sequencing is Enabling New Treatments”
Takeda Pharmaceutical is to buy biopharma LigoCyte for $60 million in cash, plus future milestone-dependent payments. LigoCyte is developing a pipeline of virus-like particle (VLP)-based vaccines for gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. The firm’s pipeline is headed by a norovirus vaccine candidate that is in Phase I/II clinical development, and preclinical-stage candidates against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), pandemic and seasonal influenza, and rotavirus.
If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Manufacturing Strategies for Improving Viral Yield and Lowering Production Cost in Vaccine Manufacturing”
Athersys said its adult stem therapy for multiple sclerosis has produced lasting neurological improvements in recent animal studies and stopped the disease from progressing. The Cleveland, OH-based biotech touted the preclinical results at the Second Midwest Conference on Stem Cell Biology & Therapy at Oakland University in Rochester, MI. Athersys researchers teamed with colleagues at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Fast Forward subsidiary.
The results are promising for a drug that Athersys is testing for maximum benefit. The company continues to partner with Pfizer to develop MultiStem to treat inflammatory bowel disease. It is also teaming with RTI Biologics to use MultiStem with a bone allograft product for orthopedic indication.
If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Ten Companies with Innovative Stem Cell Therapies in Clinical Trials – Part I”
Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka warned patients on Tuesday about unproven “stem cell therapies” offered at clinics and hospitals in a growing number of countries, saying they were highly risky. The Internet is full of advertisements touting stem cell cures for just about any disease — from diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, eye problems, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to spinal cord injuries — in countries such as China, Mexico, India, Turkey and Russia. Yamanaka, who shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine on Monday with John Gurdon of the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, Britain, called for caution. “This type of practice is an enormous problem, it is a threat. Many so-called stem cell therapies are being conducted without any data using animals, preclinical safety checks,” said Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan.
If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Technologies for Downstream Processing in Clinical Stem Cell Manufacturing”
Two Americans shared this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry for deciphering the communication system that the human body uses to sense the outside world and send messages to cells — for example, speeding the heart when danger approaches. The understanding is aiding the development of new drugs. The winners, Dr. Robert J. Lefkowitz, 69, a professor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher, and Dr. Brian K. Kobilka, 57, a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, will split eight million Swedish kronor, or about $1.2 million.
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