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FDA panel backs drug for early-stage breast cancer

September 12, 2013 2:52 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Government cancer experts say a drug from Roche has shown effectiveness as a new option to treat breast cancer before tumor-removing surgery. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel voted 13-0, with one abstention, that the benefits of Perjeta as an initial treatment for breast cancer outweigh its risks.

Cancer vaccine begins Phase 1 clinical trails

September 10, 2013 8:10 am | News | Comments

A cross-disciplinary team of scientists, engineers and clinicians announced that they have begun a Phase 1 clinical trial of an implantable vaccine to treat melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer. The effort is the fruit of a new model of translational research being pursued at Harvard Univ. that integrates the latest cancer research with bio-inspired technology development.

FDA approves Celgene drug for pancreatic cancer

September 6, 2013 7:07 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal regulators have approved Celgene Inc.'s drug Abraxane to treat late-stage pancreatic cancer. In experimental trials, the drug extended the lives of patients by a little less than two months more than those treated with the current standard drug.

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J&J tries new cap to curb fatal Tylenol overdoses

August 29, 2013 1:44 pm | by MATTHEW PERRONE - AP Health Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Bottles of Tylenol sold in the U.S. will soon bear red warnings alerting users to the potentially fatal risks of taking too much of the popular pain reliever. The unusual step, disclosed by the company that makes Tylenol, comes amid a growing number of lawsuits and pressure from the federal government that could have widespread ramifications for a medicine taken by millions of people every day.

FDA grants priority review to Pharmacyclics drug

August 29, 2013 7:54 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Pharmacyclics is getting a priority review of its blood cancer treatment by federal regulators. A priority review shortens a drug evaluation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from 10 months to six. The acceptance of the application triggers a $75 million milestone payment to Pharmacyclics from Johnson & Johnson's Janssen unit.

Small chip to advance the art of drug testing

August 27, 2013 2:43 pm | by Kurt Pfitzer, Lehigh Univ. | News | Comments

Standard drug-testing methods have shortcomings. Animal testing is expensive and unreliable, and the static environment of cells and cultures don’t mimic the behavior of the entire organism. An interdisciplinary research team at Lehigh Univ. is using microscopy and optical tweezers to develop a new finger-sized chip that can study the activities of cells at the nanoscale, possibly offering an alternative to traditional drug testing.

Onyx, Bayer expect new Nexavar decision by Dec. 25

August 27, 2013 11:17 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Onyx Pharmaceuticals and Bayer said Tuesday that regulators will conduct a faster review of their pill Nexavar as a treatment for thyroid cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing Nexavar as a treatment for locally advanced or metastatic thyroid cancer that doesn't respond to treatment with radioactive iodine. The companies said the FDA expects to complete its review by Dec. 25. to.

Dropout rates for oncology Phase I trials remain under 10%

August 26, 2013 8:12 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

The overall dropout rate for oncology Phase I trials is very low at only 8%, a study by Cutting Edge Information found. However dropout rates tend to rise as the number of required visits increases. The study discovered that the average number of patients enrolled for these trials across all therapeutic areas is 47.2.

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Nanosensors could aid drug manufacturing

August 19, 2013 7:49 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemical engineers have discovered that arrays of billions of nanoscale sensors have unique properties that could help pharmaceutical companies produce drugs more safely and efficiently. Using these sensors, the researchers were able to characterize variations in the binding strength of antibody drugs, which hold promise for treating cancer and other diseases.

Immunomedics reports positive study of cancer drug

August 14, 2013 12:23 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Shares of Immunomedics jumped Wednesday after announcing that its treatment for a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma helped to extend the lives of patients that used it in combination with another drug. The company said patients with newly diagnosed follicular lymphoma responded well to a combination of its epratuzumab and Roche's drug, Rituxan.

“Smart” nanoparticles to improve drug delivery, DNA self-assembly

August 12, 2013 3:39 pm | by Rob Enslin, Syracuse Univ. | News | Comments

A team of chemists at Syracuse Univ. has used a temperature-sensitive polymer to regulate DNA interactions in both a DNA-mediated assembly system and a DNA-encoded drug-delivery system. Their findings may improve how nanomaterials self-assemble into functional devices and how anticancer drugs, including doxorubicin, are delivered into the body.

Univ. Of Maryland, Baltimore's licensing deals fuel local life sciences community

August 6, 2013 8:30 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Univ. of Maryland Ventures announced agreements between Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore and five different life sciences companies across the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan region. The companies include Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, Plasmonix, IGI Technologies, A&G Pharmaceuticals and BioAssay Works.

Protein surface defects act as drug targets

July 30, 2013 11:49 am | News | Comments

Drug designers now have a new way of designing drug candidates suitable for dislodging unstable water molecules. Previous research treated water as a continuum medium even at interfaces. Researchers in Argentina have built a discrete model that describes water molecules’ partial confinement on the protein’s surface. The area where water is most easily dislodged could be a candidate for drug target research.

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Pfizer sells key vaccine cheaply to poor countries

July 29, 2013 6:34 am | by LINDA A. JOHNSON - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. has agreed to provide hundreds of millions of doses of its lucrative vaccine against pneumonia and meningitis at a fraction of the usual price for young children in poor countries. The deal to provide 260 million shots of its Prevnar 13 vaccine for a few dollars each is Pfizer's third agreement under an innovative program.

Injectable “smart sponge” holds promise for controlled drug delivery

July 22, 2013 10:16 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a drug delivery technique for diabetes treatment in which a sponge-like material surrounds an insulin core. The sponge expands and contracts in response to blood sugar levels to release insulin as needed. The technique could also be used for targeted drug delivery to cancer cells.

Sigma-Aldrich, Scripps partner to accelerate reagent commercialization

July 18, 2013 9:33 am | News | Comments

On Thursday, Sigma-Aldrich Corp.announced a partnership with The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) to fund research and provide immediate, day-of-publication access to TSRI researchers’ discoveries for the synthesis and analysis of potential drugs. The partnership promises to eliminate months from the translation of cutting-edge chemistry into widespread applications for drug discovery.

Injectable “smart sponge” hold promise for controlled drug delivery

July 17, 2013 10:18 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a drug delivery technique for diabetes treatment in which a sponge-like material surrounds an insulin core. The sponge expands and contracts in response to blood sugar levels to release insulin as needed. The technique could also be used for targeted drug delivery to cancer cells.

Nanoparticles, “pH phoresis” could improve cancer drug delivery

July 9, 2013 7:45 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a concept to potentially improve delivery of drugs for cancer treatment using nanoparticles that concentrate and expand in the presence of higher acidity found in tumor cells. The concept involves using nanoparticles made of "weak polybases," compounds that expand when transported into environments mimicking tumor cells, which have a higher acidity than surrounding tissues.

FDA starts review of Roche leukemia drug

July 3, 2013 10:40 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Swiss drugmaker Roche said Wednesday the Food and Drug Administration will make a decision on its leukemia drug obinutuzumab by Dec. 20. Roche's Genentech unit is developing obinutuzumab as a treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Genentech said the FDA will conduct a priority review, meaning it will make a decision in six months instead of the usual 10 months.

Novel chemistry for new class of antibiotic

July 3, 2013 10:28 am | News | Comments

Univ. of Adelaide research has produced a potential new antibiotic which could help in the battle against bacterial resistance to antibiotics. The potential new antibiotic targets a bacterial enzyme critical to metabolic processes. The compound is a protein inhibitor which binds to the enzyme (called biotin protein ligase), stopping its action and interrupting the lifecycle of the bacteria.

Leaf cutter ants inspire new anti-cancer drugs

July 3, 2013 9:08 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the Univ. of East Anglia are developing a new class of anti-cancer drugs that are not only powerful but also circumvent a primary cause of resistance to chemotherapy. The work is inspired by nature’s fungus farmer, the leaf cutter ant.

Activists warn trade pact will keep out generics

July 3, 2013 4:42 am | by EILEEN NG - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A free trade pact being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 Asia-Pacific nations will impose aggressive intellectual property rules that will restrict access to affordable medicines in developing nations, health activists warned Wednesday. The 12 countries will start an 18th round of talks in Malaysia on July 15 and hope to complete negotiations by October.

Scientists identify promising antiviral compounds

July 2, 2013 2:39 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have identified two promising candidates for the development of drugs against human adenovirus, a cause of ailments ranging from colds to gastrointestinal disorders to pink eye. A recently published paper describes how the researchers sifted through thousands of compounds to determine which might block the effects of a key viral enzyme they had previously studied in atomic-level detail.

Researchers design variant of main painkiller receptor

June 18, 2013 1:04 pm | News | Comments

Opioids are still the most effective class of painkillers, but they come with unwanted side effects. Designing new drugs of this type involves testing them on their corresponding receptors, but access to meaningful quantities of these receptors that work in experimental conditions has been a limiting factor. Now, researchers have developed a variant of the mu opioid receptor that has several advantages when it comes to experimentation.

Court: 'Pay-to-delay' generic drugs can be illegal

June 17, 2013 4:31 pm | by JESSE J. HOLLAND - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Deals between pharmaceutical corporations and their generic drug competitors, which government officials say keep cheaper forms of medicine off the market, can sometimes be illegal and therefore can be challenged in court, the Supreme Court said Monday. The justices voted 5-3 to allow the government to inspect and challenge what it calls "pay-for-delay" deals or "reverse payment settlements."

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