Archive by date | June 2010

Pharmacogenetics raises new legal questions

Posted on behalf of Stu Hutson A mother in Freiburg, Germany finds her three-year-old son comatose in a pool of his own vomit. She immediately begins CPR as his twin brother looks on. The ailing boy is rushed to the local university hospital where he is stabilized — his life ultimately saved by quick thinking. However, two and half hours later, his father returns home to find the twin brother dead. Both boys’ bodies had dangerously high levels of codeine — the unintended consequence of a treatment for lingering colds. But what had caused the overdose? Had the boys been  … Read more

The genome of Ozz

The genome of Ozz

First there was Craig Venter. Then came James Watson. And now: Ozzy Osbourne. The Black Sabbath singer, reality television star and Sunday Times of London health columnist is reportedly paying to have his genome sequenced, according to the MIT Tech Review. The Prince of Darkness is one of the first paying customers planning to have his genome decoded by Knome, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup that charges around $19,000 for full exome sequencing and close to $70,000 for the whole kit and caboodle. Knome’s director of research Nathaniel Pearson said that Osbourne’s sequence could offer new insights into the rocker’s notoriously  … Read more

HHS reports on pharma’s world tour

HHS reports on pharma's world tour

You might be leaving for vacation soon, but your medication’s probably already well-traveled. A report on the prevalence of new drugs being tested outside the US by the Inspector General of the US Department of Health and Human Services is scheduled to be released today. The New York Times obtained an advance copy, and the results underscore the sheer scope of pharmaceutical globalization. 80% of all drugs that were approved for sale in 2008 were tested outside the US, and 78% of all clinical trial patients were enrolled in studies that took place abroad. Ten medicines approved by the US  … Read more

The Daily Dose – The stem cell vetting continues

US National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins yesterday announced the addition of eight new human embryonic stem cells lines to the NIH’s registry, bringing up the total number of stem cell lines available for use in federally funded research to 75. The new lines were developed at the University of Connecticut, the University of New South Wales in Australia, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Advanced Cell Technology, a Santa Monica biotech company.  Read more

Doctors still love a free lunch

Doctors still love a free lunch

Posted on behalf of Daniel Cressey A new survey suggests that despite widespread and often-voiced concerns about conflicts of interest, most doctors still think gifts from the pharmaceutical industry are acceptable. While regulators, ethicists and politicians have waged an ever more aggressive war on such gifts, the link between doctors and big pharma has proven surprisingly durable. Often missing from discussions about the potential for this link to unduly influence medicine is any real understanding of how most doctors actually feel about their free pharma-company pens, lunches, holidays, and the like. A team from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in  … Read more

ISSCR 2010: Reprogramming without the plutipotent middle man

Researchers have transformed skin cells into beating heart tissue without going through an intermediate pluripotent stage. Reporting today at the International Society for Stem Cell Research meeting in San Francisco, Deepak Srivastava of the Gladstone Institute announced he had taken mouse skin cells, or fibroblasts, added a cocktail of heart-specific reprogramming factors and successfully created cardiac muscle, or cadiomyocytes, without first forming induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.  Read more

A Daily Dose from ISSCR 2010: Tales from the crypt

Three years ago, Hans Clevers at his colleagues at the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands discovered that a unique molecular marker called Lgr5 singled out stem cells in the mammalian intestine. Reporting yesterday at the International Society for Stem Cell Research meeting in San Francisco, Clevers claimed he can now expand these stem cells to grow as much intestinal tissue as needed for transplantation — and all without genetically altering the cells. “This would open a very classical way of regenerative medicine,” he said at a press conference.  Read more

ISSCR 2010: Will reprogrammed cells improve drug discovery?

The pharmaceutical industry has had a notoriously abysmal success rate at turning promising compounds into approved medicines. The usual number that gets tossed around is that only one in ten drug candidates will prove safe and effective. But the true success rate might be closer to one in 35, according to Corey Goodman, former president of Pfizer’s Biotherapeutics and Bioinnovation Center and now chairman of the board at iPierian, a South San Francisco-based biotech focused on using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in drug discovery.  Read more