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American Chemical Society: Federal shutdown undermines US innovation and critical services PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 12 October 2013 22:02

American Chemical Society President Marinda Li Wu, Ph.D., said the budget impasse is effectively choking America's science innovation pipeline, strangling new discoveries, future economic growth and job creation.

As a result of the shutdown, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will issue no new grants or cooperative agreements for innovative scientific research, and no continuing grant increments for existing projects will be provided, effectively suspending or completely halting critical research efforts. NSF recalled scientists from the U.S. Antarctic Research Stations on Tuesday; they will lose an entire season of research, which stands to impact hundreds of research projects in which we have already invested millions of dollars.

JAMA commentary contends vitamin therapy can still reduce stroke PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 December 2011 07:06

A commentary by Dr. David Spence of The University of Western Ontario and Dr. Meir Stampfer of the Harvard School of Public Health in today's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) argues that vitamin therapy still has a role to play in reducing stroke.

AZ, GSK ask carmakers for directions amid pharma breakdown PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 December 2011 05:18

As the pharmaceutical companies roll into the commercial equivalent of the breakdown lane, drugmakers are seeking advice from members of the auto industry that have tuned up their strategies multiple times to stay on the road to profitability. Reuters reports that AstraZeneca and most recently GlaxoSmithKline have tapped their counterparts in the auto industry for fixes to the companies' operations in the face of generic competition, R&D challenges and the lower profit margins.

Biomarkers provide route to personalized medicine PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 December 2011 04:54 medicine--the ability to target drugs to specific patients as well as to specific diseases--is a major goal for drug development, from a number of different perspectives. For patients, personalizing medicine would mean that they can get the drugs that are the most likely to treat or cure their disease, with the best possible toxicity profile, and the broadening number of biomarker-based tests could also speed up diagnosis and reduce misdiagnosis. For drug companies, personalizing medicine means that they can stratify patients for clinical trials, increasing the chance of drugs reaching the market, cutting R&D costs and reducing the current extremely high attrition rate. And for payers, providing high-cost biologic drugs to only the patients that will respond will cut their costs.
Who is Biotech's Steve Jobs? PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 24 October 2011 00:44

Think of technology, and images of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and a handful of others pop into your head.


Social media? Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Larry Page or Sergey Brin.

Should Teens Be Banned From Indoor Tanning? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 17 October 2011 17:20

As our colleagues at the WSJ’s Law Blog report, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bunch of new laws into effect over the weekend, including one banning the use of tanning beds by minors.

Previously Golden State teens were able to use commercial tanning beds with a parent’s consent; now they’re out of luck, even if Mom and Dad approve, Reuters reports. (That puts tanning in the same bucket as purchasing cigarettes and getting a tattoo.)

The Vocal Cord Injury Affecting Adele PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 17 October 2011 17:16

The Grammy-winning singer Adele has canceled a series of U.S. tour dates due to a vocal-cord hemorrhage.

As she wrote on her blog this week, she was first diagnosed with a hemorrhage in May, then rested and recovered. But recently, she was diagnosed with another hemorrhage. “My voice yet again went … it just switched off,” she wrote.

That sort of “instantaneous hoarseness” is typical of hemorrhages of the vocal cords, which are also called vocal folds, says Kenneth Altman, an associate professor of otolaryngology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

U.K. Pledges $31 Million to Help Wipe Out Guinea Worm Disease PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 15 October 2011 07:46

The British government has pledged about $31 million to help eradicate guinea worm disease, a donation that public-health experts say will bring them close to finishing the job.

A quarter century ago, the crippling parasitic infection afflicted 3.5 million people a year in more than 20 countries. This year, there are expected to be just over 1,000 cases in four African countries. More than 98% of those cases are in South Sudan, with a few dozen in Ethiopia, Mali, and Chad.

A.M. Vitals: Cloning Technique Used to Create Human Embryos PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 15 October 2011 07:42

Cloning Technique Success: Researchers reported in Nature that they created 13 early-stage human embryos that were partial clones of diabetic patients, albeit abnormal ones, with three sets of chromosomes instead of the usual two, the WSJ reports. That extra set would have to be eliminated if the cloning technique were ever to be used to develop stem-cell based treatments for patients with diseases, the paper says.

Should a Candidate’s Weight Be Part of the Conversation? PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 18:25

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says jokes about his girth are par for the course. But the notion that the extra pounds he carries are a legitimate election issue is absurd, he says.

As the New York Times reports, when Christie bowed out of the 2012 presidential race yesterday, he criticized those who said his weight somehow reflects on his ability to lead a state or country. (He didn’t single out any critics, but the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson last week wrote a column called “Chris Christie’s Big Problem.”)

A new way of looking at drug discovery PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 17 February 2013 11:07

Garret Fitzgerald, Professor of Medicine and PharmacologyPHILADELPHIA - Garret FitzGerald, MD, FRS, chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Director of the Institute for Translational Medicine & Therapeutics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has long said the current drug-development system in the United States is in need of change, "representing an unsustainable model."

President's Bioethics Commission releases report on human subjects protection PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 December 2011 05:48

Current regulations are robust, but should be improved

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues today issued its report concerning federally-sponsored research involving human volunteers, concluding that current rules and regulations provide adequate safeguards to mitigate risk. In its report, "Moral Science: Protecting Participants in Human Subjects Research," the Commission also recommended 14 changes to current practices to better protect research subjects, and called on the federal government to improve its tracking of research programs supported with taxpayer dollars.

Roche chief warns of perfect pharma storm PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 15 December 2011 05:03 CEO Severin Schwan thinks the drug business will hollow out over the next few years, with low-rent generics makers on one side and innovative companies on the other--and very little in between. Thanks to demanding regulators, penny-pinching governments and greedy investors, pharma is in a "perfect storm" that will sweep the middle ground away, he told the FT Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology conference.

The Cancer Drug Dark Ages Are Coming to an End PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 01 November 2011 05:45
Only a couple stories in the past decade have given advocates of personalized cancer medicines much to brag about. There was Genentech’s Herceptin for a form of breast cancer in 1998, and Novartis’ Gleevec for chronic myeloid leukemia in 2001.

But just a few short weeks ago, in August, we saw a flurry of FDA approvals that I believe will go down as a turning point in the history of personalized medicine. Industry has paid lip service to this idea for years, but I’m starting to believe that many in pharma and biotech are getting real about changing their ways, and making drugs that are superbly effective in small niches of patients, rather than settling for mediocre advances for the masses.

A.M. Vitals: Study Casts Doubt on Supplement Benefits PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 17 October 2011 17:22

Supplement Findings: Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds older women who took multivitamins and most other dietary supplements were slightly more likely to die than those who didn’t, the WSJ reports. Calcium supplements, however, were linked to a slightly lower risk of death among the nearly 39,000 women who participated in the study, the paper says. One outside expert notes that the study didn’t look at debilitating conditions that supplements might ameliorate, and that if a physician recommends specific vitamins or minerals for a medical reason it’s a good idea to listen.

A.M. Vitals: Pfizer Waits for Approval to Conduct Embryonic Stem-Cell Trial PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 17 October 2011 17:18

Moving Forward: Pfizer and a group of researchers are waiting for permission to initiate a human study in the U.K. of a possible treatment for age-related macular degeneration that is derived from human embryonic stem cells, the WSJ reports. It’s a sign that research on the controversial cells is moving forward into actual clinical studies.

Off Limits: A new California law says that if you’re a teenager, tanning beds will be off limits starting Jan. 1 — even if you have permission from your parents, Reuters reports. Gov. Jerry Brown yesterday signed a law banning minors from using the beds.

A.M. Vitals: Task Force Ready to Recommend Against Prostate-Cancer Screening PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 15 October 2011 07:48

New Recommendation Coming: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will recommend against screening healthy men for prostate cancer using the PSA blood test, giving the test a rating indicating its harms outweigh its benefits, the WSJ reports, citing a person familiar with the draft document. Prostate-cancer screening for men without symptoms has long been controversial given the high rate of false positive findings and the identification of tumors that never would have been a threat to a man’s health, though advocates of testing say it can find cancers early, when they’re more treatable. CNN first reported the USPSTF’s decision.

Jobs’s Death Focuses Attention on Rare Form of Pancreatic Cancer PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 15 October 2011 07:43

Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously kept quiet about his illness and while a rare form of pancreatic cancer was at the root of his struggles, the company’s announcement of his death yesterday didn’t include information about the precise cause.

But if you ever question what someone can accomplish after being diagnosed with cancer, consider this. In the seven years since Jobs underwent surgery to remove what doctors call a neuroendocrine pancreatic tumor and — except for one medical leave — remained at the helm of Apple, the company:

How Quality Indicators Can Hurt the Elderly PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 18:27

Quality indicators are supposed to encourage better health care.

But in the case of the elderly, they may lead to “unintended harms,” according to a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In general, these indicators encourage physicians to provide more care deemed appropriate, not to pare back on care that is inappropriate, says Sei Lee, an author of the piece and an assistant professor of medicine in the geriatrics division at the University of California, San Francisco. (His co-author is Louise Walter, also at UCSF.)

Public-Health Services Get Crunched by Budget Woes PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 18:22

Immunizations, emergency preparations for hurricanes, and restaurant inspections are among local public-health services being cut back or eliminated amid budget constraints.

Some 55% of the nation’s county and city health departments reduced or eliminated at least one program between July 2010 and June 2011, and the public-health workforce continued to shrink, according to a new survey by the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

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