This week’s headlines include, flu vaccine updates, new study on Gardasil confirms safety, government funding for cell-based treatment against thermal burns, improved breast cancer drug extends lives, and new coalition poised to improve fight against cancer.
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U.S. health officials are urging more Americans to get vaccinated against influenza for the upcoming flu season, adding that there is plenty of vaccine on hand. More than 85 million doses of the vaccine had been distributed as of Sept. 14, and a total of about 135 million doses will be available, the nonprofit National Foundation for Infectious Diseases said. The flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Howard Koh, assistant health secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, said there was no guarantee that the 2012-13 flu season would be mild, as the last one was.
If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Utilizing Bioreactors to Increase Virus Production in Vaccine Manufacturing”
On Wednesday in Washington DC, Soon-Shiong and his L.A.-based NantHealth will unveil a joint venture with Verizon, Intel, Blue Shield of California and others to create a nationwide system for doctors to share DNA and other data on cancer patients. It will enable doctors to do genetic analysis of a patient’s tumor in less than a minute — a job that now can take from eight to 10 weeks. “It’s unconscionable that cancer patients get the wrong diagnosis 30 percent of the time and that it takes so long to treat them with appropriate drugs for their cancer.”
If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Is Personalized Medicine the Future? How Genetic Sequencing is Enabling New Treatments”
Researchers from Germany and the United Kingdom have improved the methods of predicting which flu virus strains to include in a given year’s seasonal vaccine by determining which strains were most successful, and which least, at expanding into an entire population. The team analyzed the DNA sequences of thousands of 1971 influenza A (H3N2) strains isolated from patients worldwide between 1969 and 2007. Using a new statistical method, researchers found that many more mutations succeed in replicating and surviving than was initially believed. These mutations compete; some make it into the entire population, others die out.
If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Manufacturing Strategies for Improving Viral Yield and Lowering Production Cost in Vaccine Manufacturing”
Genentech dominated the headlines with its “souped-up” breast cancer drug at the big American cancer meeting in the spring. Now it’s making headlines again this fall at a European cancer meeting with some new details about the drug. The South San Francisco-based biotech company said today that its experimental drug trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1) was able to extend lives in a study of 991 women with breast cancer that overexpresses the HER2 protein, and who have previously been treated with the original trastuzumab (Herceptin) and a taxane chemotherapy. People who got the new drug lived a median time of 30.9 months, compared with 25.1 months for those who were randomly assigned to get GlaxoSmithKline’s lapatinib (Tykerb) and Roche’s chemo drug capecitabine (Xeloda). Researchers reported that about 40.8 percent of patients suffered moderate to severe side effects on the new drug, compared with 57 percent in the comparison group.
If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Cultureware – A New Generation of Products Step Up to the Plate”
Shares of Cytori Therapeutics Inc. rose Friday after the company said it will study a cell-based treatment for thermal burns and radiation injury for the U.S. government. Cytori said it will get $4.7 million from its contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. If the agency exercises additional contract options, the San Diego company could get as much as $106 million, and Cytori said it expects the government will start ordering its therapy if development is successful. Cytori shares rose 72 cents, or 18.7 percent, to $4.58 in afternoon trading. They are approaching their 52-week high of $4.85 on Monday.
If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Ten Companies with Innovative Stem Cell Therapies in Clinical Trials – Part I”
Merck & Co. Gardasil, the human papillomavirus vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, was shown to be safe in the second large-scale study in the past year of side effects since the drug was approved six years ago. Fainting and infection were among short-term side effects in a U.S. government-required study of 190,000 females in Kaiser Permanente’s California insurance system who were tracked for 60 days after receiving the HPV vaccine. The study today in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine showed patients were six times more likely to have fainted the day of the shot than in the following weeks and 1.8 times more likely to report a skin and subcutaneous tissue infection in the two weeks after.
If you like this story, please see our blog titled “Improving Media to Increase Virus Yield in Vaccine Production”