Archive by date | February 2013

Competition intensifies over market for DNA-based prenatal tests

Noninvasive Prenatal Genetic Test Compared

Prenatal DNA testing has been a fiercely contested market of late. Yet another competitor entered the fray last week when Natera, a startup based in San Carlos, California, announced the 1 March launch date of a commercial test that can detect chromosomal abnormalities in the developing fetus from just a drop of an expectant mother’s blood—and with a sensitivity on par of that of more invasive techniques such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, both of which carry an elevated risk of miscarriage.  Read more

Anemia drug recalled amid safety concerns in dialysis patients

Vials of Omontys

After less than a year on the market, a long-acting anemia drug called Omontys (peginesatide), a once-monthly injection used by people with chronic kidney disease, was recalled over the weekend, after US regulators received 19 reports of severe allergic reactions, including some deaths. Shares of Affymax, the Palo Alto, California–based company behind the product, were down 85% today on the news.  Read more

Antibody–drug combo approved for fighting breast cancer

Antibody–drug combo approved for fighting breast cancer

Drug regulators in the US have already approved a handful of drugs for the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease in which a cell surface protein known as human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2, or HER2, is elevated. Although most women with this type of cancer respond well to at least one of the existing anti-HER2 therapies, some individuals with HER2-positive breast tumors develop drug resistance and remain unresponsive to further treatment. For these women, a new drug combination approved earlier today offers hope.  Read more

Under scrutiny, India’s premier medical research council faces review

Under scrutiny, India’s premier medical research council faces review

BANGALORE — A high-powered panel set up at the request of India’s Ministry of Finance is reviewing the work of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country’s primary funding and coordinating body for biomedical research, based in New Delhi.  Read more

Mutations that drive early-onset prostate cancer identified, pointing way to specific treatments

Mutations that drive early-onset prostate cancer identified, pointing way to specific treatments

Prostate cancer affects an estimated one in every six males who live past the age of 70, making it the most common type of cancer among men worldwide. The majority of prostate cancer cases occur in men 65 years of age or older, but about 2% of cases occur in those under the age of 50—and these early tumors are particularly aggressive. Until now, scientists didn’t know whether the mechanisms that give rise to prostate cancer in the younger men were different from those in seniors.  Read more