California expands newborn test for genetic abnormalities

California now moves to the forefront as it will test for 75 conditions through the standard infant heel prick. That more than doubles the disorders the old test covered. "This is a wonderful day, a great day, where we're not leaving any babies behind," said David Swift, who credits expanded testing with saving his daughter's life. The mandatory screening program will apply to all the 500,000-plus babies born in the state each year, though parents can opt out for religious reasons. Since the state began piloting the program May 2, the tests have identified 15 babies with serious conditions that previously would have gone undetected | 07/27/2005 | State expands newborn test for genetic abnormalities

US Senate leader Frist backs stem cell research

"The federal government should fund embryonic stem cell research" that uses leftover embryos from fertility clinics, said the Tennessee Republican, a surgeon who may run for president in 2008, in backing legislation already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that would overturn the limits imposed on the research by Bush in 2001.

Health News Article |

BioBOOM Op/Ed: Huge win and possible momentum for stem cell research advocates. Funny how 2008 aspirations loom large on somethings now. There are probrably some interesting talks behind this move.

Genetic Regulator Of Lifespan Identified

The finding implies that lifespan is not simply dependent on accumulated wear and tear or metabolism, as some researchers have suggested, but is at least partly controlled by an active genetic program in cells--one that could theoretically be boosted. One of the immediate implications of the work is that it emphasizes the functional difference between nicotinamide and nicotinic acid. Nicotinic acid (niacin) is a known anticholesterol treatment, while nicotinamide (or niacinimide) is sometimes touted for anti-aging abilities and is in clinical trials as a therapy for diabetes and cancer. However, the two substances are sometimes sold interchangeably as supplements under the name vitamin B3. "Our study raises the concern of taking high doses of nicotinamide," Sinclair said, because nicotinamide puts a damper on Sir2's actions in the cell

Genetic Regulator Of Lifespan Identified

BioBOOM op/Ed: Time to look at the ingredient listings on my vitamins. Hopefully the B3, if there is any, reads nicotinic and not nicotinamide.

Government Is Investigating 3rd Possible Case of Mad Cow

The department would not say where the farm was, other than to say it was remote. The veterinarian, Dr. John Clifford, said that the 12-year-old cow died in April but that its brain tissue was not tested until last week. Because the initial results were ambiguous, scientists at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, are conducting more tests to determine whether the cow was infected.

Government Is Investigating 3rd Possible Case of Mad Cow - New York Times

Gene engineered stem cells heal rat spines

Genetically engineered stem cells can help rats' severed spinal cords grow back together, according to a study published on Tuesday. Rats given the treatment, using stem cells taken from rat embryos, could move their legs again after their spines were severed in the lab, said the researchers' report in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Reuters AlertNet - Gene engineered stem cells heal rat spines -study

Sirna Therapeutics, Inc. (RNAI, breakthrough - a 95% knockdown of hepatitis B virus (HBV

This is the first demonstration of systemic siRNA efficacy at therapeutically relevant doses and establishes a strong scientific foundation for broad human application of RNAi-based therapeutics.

ClearStation : News Articles : RNAI

BioBOOM Op/Ed: This should stimulate the "value" of companies with IP in the siRNA area, as some of us have predicted. Will be interesting to watch these developments = keep your powder dry.

Invitrogen to Acquire BioSource for $130M

Invitrogen said it has agreed to acquire BioSource International Inc. for $130 million in cash.

Invitrogen to Acquire BioSource for $130M

BioBOOM Op/Ed: Well that's one less booth at Neroscience and Cell biology meetings we guess. Plus, BioRad seems to have been out bid by Invitrogen's hunger to spend it's cash holdings.

Possible herpes virus Achilles' heel found

U of Michigan researchers are reporting the discovery of a receptor that appears to function as one “lock” that HSV opens to allow it to enter human cells. They've also found the gene that controls the production of that receptor, deciphered some aspects of the receptor's structure, and developed a pig-cell system that could be used to test new anti-herpes drugs."We can use the receptor molecule to try to understand the process and perhaps combat infection at this vulnerable site,” says A. Oveta Fuller, Ph.D. the leader of the U-M team, senior author on the two papers.

UMHS Press Release: Possible herpes virus Achilles' heel found

Trial to Test Stem Cells for Heart Attacks

A clinical trial to test the safety of treating heart attack damage with stem cells is about to get under way. Two patients have been enrolled so far at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and a total of 48 are expected to take part across the country. In tests in pigs, stem cells taken from another pig's bone marrow were injected into the animal's damaged heart. After just two months, the stem cells had helped restore heart function and repaired damaged heart muscle by 50 percent to 75 percent.

Trial to Test Stem Cells for Heart Attacks - Yahoo! News

BioBOOM Op/Ed: Hey Mr. Vice President are you listening?!!?

CDC and Fort Dodge Animal Health Achieve West NIle vaccine

CDC scientists used DNA vaccine technology originally developed for other mosquito-borne viruses (e.g., dengue and Japanese encephalitis) to develop an experimental vaccine."This is truly an exciting innovation, and an incredible scientific breakthrough that has potential benefits far beyond preventing West Nile virus in horses,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. “This science will allow for the development of safer and more effective human and animal vaccines more quickly.”

CDC - Media Relations - Press Release - July 18, 2005

Ciphergen jumps on Quest deal

Under the terms of the deal, Quest had purchased 6.2 million shares of Ciphergen stock for $15 million, amounting to about a 17% stake in the company. Quest will also have a 5-year warrant to purchase an additional 2.2 million shares at $3.50 apiece, and will be lending Ciphergen up to $10 million for development purposes

Ciphergen jumps on Quest deal - Biotechnology - Company Announcements

BioBOOM Op/Ed Talk all you want about potential for proteomics in diagnostics. That's been around for years - what do you think ELISA or aging agglutination tests are based on? This is simply Ciphergen's angel for an exit strategy, we think, as they clearly were on shaky legs and running out of funds.

Multi-species genome comparison sheds new light on evolutionary processes, cancer mutations

In a study published in the July 22 issue of the journal Science, a team of 25 scientists from the United States, France and Singapore compared the organization of the chromosomes of eight mammalian species: human, mouse, rat, cow, pig, dog, cat and horse. Using sophisticated computer software to align and compare the mammals' genetic material, or genomes, the team determined that chromosomes tend to break in the same places as species evolve, resulting in rearrangements of their DNA. Prior to the discovery of these breakage hotspots, the prevailing view among scientists was that such rearrangements occurred at random locations

Multi-species genome comparison sheds new light on evolutionary processes, cancer mutations

The Next Ambien?

Early Monday morning, a decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected for yet a whole new type of sleeping pill. It's called Rozerem, from Japanese drug giant Takeda. Rozerem targets the same receptors as the over-the-counter aid melatonin, but with potentially clearer efficacy. (Some have even dubbed it "super-melatonin.") The idea is that by targeting two melatonin receptors in the brain, called M1 and M2, the drug can avoid many of the side effects that are troublesome in other sleeping pills.

The Next Ambien? -

Gene's mutations found to cause life-threatening aortic disease

Scientists have identified the first genetic mutations that cause the aorta – the body's main artery – to widen, tear and rupture. Finding biological markers that flag aneurysm, a bulging of the aorta that leads to dissection, a lengthwise separation of tissues in the artery wall, is critically important for early diagnosis. Aneurysms can be managed initially with medication and then successfully repaired to prevent catastrophic dissection and rupture, Milewicz said. Many patients never have a chance at treatment because they go undiagnosed, even when they go to emergency rooms with severe chest pain because diagnostic tests for heart attack do not uncover aortic defects. Actor John Ritter, for example, died in September 2003 from an undiagnosed dissection that ruptured.

Gene�s mutations found to cause life-threatening aortic disease

Pfizer Q2 Profit Up, R&D Being Reorganized

Plans to announce reorganization of its research-and-development operations, which will include layoffs, as part of its previously disclosed plan to return to double-digit percentage profit growth by next year

Pfizer Q2 Profit Up, R&D Being Reorganized

BIOART Ecce Homology

"Ecce Homology," an interactive "bioart" installation to be showcased at SIGGRAPH 2005 - in Los Angeles, July 31 through Aug. 4 - quite literally makes BLAST and genomics visible. Headed up by new-media artist Ruth West - director of visual analytics and interactive technologies at the University of California, San Diego National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research and research associate with the UCSD Center for Research and Computing in the Arts - the "Ecce Homology" project is an ongoing collaboration among 11 biologists, artists and computer scientists from UCSD, UCLA and the University of Southern California.

The visualization of the genome itself is based on an ideographic and pictographic language reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy or Sanskrit writing. Motivated by the desire to escape looking at long strings of ACTG nucleotide lists, or other linear visualizations of DNA and proteins, in their process for creating the pictograms. To create the novel visualization of DNA and proteins, they created a virtual calligraphic brush. The brush remains motionless unless it is given biological information, data from DNA and proteins sequence from the genome. It is this information that creates the luminous pictograms that flow from the brush. The pictograms are then projected along the 60-foot long, 12-foot high span in the gallery.

SIGGRAPH 2005 | Homepage

in silico v1.0: Ecce Homology

Sigma inks licensing deal with Alnylam

RNA interference is a naturally occurring mechanism within cells for selectively silencing and regulating specific genes. Since many diseases are caused by the inappropriate activity of specific genes, the ability to silence and regulate such genes selectively through RNAi could provide a means to treat a wide range of human diseases, the companies said.

Sigma-Aldrich said the license agreement further strengthens Sigma's position as a key licensed supplier of

Sigma inks licensing deal with Alnylam

BioBOOM Op/Ed: Alnylam continues to sign lic agreements with the big boys. Check them out, we did and bought. They also have a relationship with Ambion.

Senate approves Bush's pick to head FDA

Crawford, a veterinarian and food safety expert with a doctorate in pharmacology, has served as acting FDA commissioner since March 2004. He also did a previous stint as acting commissioner from February to November 2002.

Senate approves Bush's pick to head FDA

BioBOOM Op/Ed: Bout Time!

Moral Debate: Does Stem Cell Procedure Really Risk Making Monkeys More Humanlike?

While the group agrees it is "unlikely that grafting human stem cells into the brains of non-human primates would alter the animals' abilities in morally relevant ways," the members "also felt strongly that the risk of doing so is real and too ethically important to ignore."The panelists concluded that morally significant changes are least likely if the research is done on adult primates as opposed to those whose brains are still developing. Further, abhorent alterations would be less likely by using primates more distantly related to humans, such as macaque monkeys, rathern than closer relatives like apes and chimpanzees.

Moral Debate: Procedure Risks Making Monkeys More Humanlike - Yahoo! News

BioBOOM Op/Ed: PLANET OF THE APES? Should we stop training dogs too? Seems that makes them smarter and some owners would swear almost human. If one has some kind of moral or religious objection, the article says, "Many procedures in medicine are unnatural but are not necessarily considered unethical. Pig cells have been studied for use in people with Parkinson's disease."

Serologicals Corporation Implements Accelerated Integration Program for Research Segment

Serologicals Corporation today announced that it has begun the implementation of an accelerated integration program for its research segment as outlined in its announcement on June 21, 2005. This program includes the integration of several core functions, including Business Segment Management, R&D/Business Development, Marketing, Technical Support, Scientific Sourcing, Intellectual Property/Licensing and Finance and Accounting. The company expects to achieve operating efficiencies that should result in annual savings of $3.0 million to $3.5 million. "This represents a significant step in the integration of our Upstate and Chemicon units that will enable the company to further improve our high level of customer focus, development and support while enabling us to improve the day-to-day efficiency of the organization," said David A. Dodd, President and Chief Executive Officer of Serologicals

Serologicals Corporation Implements Accelerated Integration Program for Research Segment

BioBOOM Op/Ed: More market consolidation affects and sadly more lost jobs too. Another reflection on poor planning because it can't just be the market since others are growing.

Stem cells may protect brain, nervous system -study in mice

This study showed a single injection of stem cells could be used to treat many different areas of damage in the body, reducing the clinical signs of the disease.
"There is a therapeutic potential in this discovery, but it's still too early to talk about a cure for humans," head of research Gianvito Martino told a news conference.

Health News Article |

Nearly 12,000 Pa. Patients Got Infections

'The deaths associated with those patients and the costs associated with those patients are astounding,' said Marc P. Volavka, the council's executive director. 'These numbers, even on their own, stand as a clarion cry to take action.'" "Hospital-acquired infections in Pennsylvania added $2 billion to hospital costs and extended hospital stays by 205,000 days last year, according to the report by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council.

Nearly 12,000 Pa. Patients Got Infections - Yahoo! News:

Genentech quarterly profit rises 73 pct

The world's second-largest biotechnology company said it now expects 2005 earnings growth, excluding items, of at least 35 percent over 2004 — up from its previous forecast of at least 30 percent.

ABC News: Genentech quarterly profit rises 73 pct

BioBOOM Op/Ed: Should be interesting to watch the markets this morning due to the release of these earnings (5% over forecast). May take the whole sector up. Good news and Avastin & Herceptin look to be great drugs, extending the quality of life for thousands.

Stem Cell Legislation Is at Risk

"'The new science that may involve embryo research but not require destruction of an embryo is tremendously exciting,' Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said recently. 'It would get you outside of the boundaries of the ethical constraints. But because the value of these new scientific methods remains speculative, they have complicated the political calculus in the highly partisan Senate, which could take up the issue as early as next week."

Stem Cell Legislation Is at Risk:

First of Merck's many court days

On Thursday, opening arguments are to begin in a state court in Angleton in Ernst v. Merck, the first civil case to reach trial among thousands of suits that people who took Vioxx or their families have filed against the drug company. Facing a nearly unlimited number of potential Vioxx claimants, Merck has vowed that it will not settle cases....

First of Merck's many court days - Business - International Herald Tribune

BioBOOM Op/Ed: As Al Haig once said, "It is not a lie, it's a terminological inexactitude". We'll see how long Merck's vow lasts. Another Al, Alex Berenson of The New York Times gives a nice overview of what Merck is facing, worth a read.

NYU's Center For Comparative Functional Genomics Helps To Unravel The Function Of MicroRNAS

MicroRNAs are a recently discovered large class of small, non-coding genes. Each animal genome contains hundreds of these genes, which have been shown to regulate the expression of protein coding genes by binding to partially complementary sites in messenger RNAs. However, little is known about the biological function of these tiny genes, which are encoded in a string of 21 to 24 DNA bases.

NYU's Center For Comparative Functional Genomics Helps To Unravel The Function Of MicroRNAS

Roche Builds Factories for Genetech

Roche announced this week that it is investing $766.3 million in new manufacturing facilities to produce the Genentech cancer drugs Herceptin and Avastin, and the hormone EPO. A new Roche factory in Penzberg, Germany, will make the breast cancer drug Herceptin and cost 400 million Swiss francs ($306.4 million). Another factory, also located in Penzberg, will manufacture the anemia treatment EPO with an investment of 200 million Swiss francs ($153.3 million). Meanwhile, work is beginning on a facility in Basel, Switzerland, to make the active ingredient in Avastin, bevacizumab. This factory will cost 400 million Swiss francs ($306.4 million).

RED HERRING | Roche Builds Factories

BioBOOM Op/Ed: The name of the game now seems to be production capacity and there is plenty of under capacity "if" you have the right biological. In addition, on June 17, Genentech announced its purchase of Biogen Idec’s 60-acre factory in Oceanside, California, for $408 million in cash. Better investment question might be who is getting the bio-production equipment business at these new sites?

BD Announces Agreement to Sell Clontech to Takara

BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) today announced that it has signed an agreement to sell the Company's Clontech operation, a unit of BD Biosciences, to Takara Bio Inc., Otsu, Japan, subject to regulatory approvals. BD's plan to sell Clontech was previously announced on October 4, 2004.

BD Announces Agreement to Sell Clontech

BioBOOM Op/Ed: Rumor has it for only $60 million!!?? Not a well managed deal for a known brand and "one time" life science contender valued at upwards of $200 mil. Terrible return to share holders. Do we hear a toilet flushing?

Scientists identify novel gene driving the growth and survival of melanoma cells

Scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have discovered a genetic abnormality in the cells of some advanced melanoma patients that worsens their chances of survival, but also might be a target of future drug attack against the dangerous skin cancer. Abnormal amplification of the MITF gene was found to be associated with other genetic changes as well. They included mutations in a gene, BRAF, previously found in melanoma cells, and silencing of p16, a “tumor-suppressor” gene that normally keeps cells from dividing too rapidly and causing cancer.

Scientists identify novel gene driving the growth and survival of melanoma cells

Study - circumcision reduces HIV

Researchers said circumcision can dramatically reduce the chances that men will be infected with the HIV virus during sexual intercourse. A study conducted in a South African township by South African and French researchers finds that circumcision reduced the risk of transmission by 70 percent in men, a far more successful rate than observers had been expecting. Some experts are calling the development "a major breakthrough." Others want to see more data on the experiment.

Singapore biotech firm discovers new source of stem cells

A Singapore biotech company, CellResearch Corporation, has discovered a new source of stem cells - from the umbilical cord lining. While cord blood stem cells are rich largely in hematopoietic cells which form blood cells, they lack sufficient mesenchymal and epithelial stem cells, both of which are are responsible for creating virtually every cell in the body. Stem cells can also be found in marrow, muscle, skin, nervous tissue and fat. However, their extraction would require surgical intervention which is both uncomfortable and has potential risks. CellResearch Corporation's breakthrough is identifying an alternative source of stem cells that is not only easily accessible, but also possesses both epithelial and mesenchymal stem cells.

Guidant Defibrillators Get Highest Warning

The FDA is investigating how Guidant notified the agency and the public of the problem, said Timothy Ulatowski, FDA's medical device compliance chief."We are continuing to evaluate the circumstances surrounding the notification by Guidant," he said. The agency will announce its findings in "a matter of weeks, not months." Now listed as a Class 1 recall are three models: Ventak Prizm 2 DR (model 1861), Contak Renewal (model H135) and Contak Renewal 2 (model H155.) The FDA said about 20,600 of these devices are still believed to be implanted; at least two patients have died.

Guidant Defibrillators Get Highest Warning - Yahoo! News

Cisco - online push cuts costs and improves care, the plan could prompt wide change

Experts think it could help usher in a new era of health care. The payoff, they say, is not so much the cost savings that typically come with the adoption of technology. The real goal is to build huge warehouses of data about how health care is delivered, what works, and what doesn't. With that information, companies that pay for workers' health care can insist on the adoption of more effective and cost-efficient treatments. Unlike other pay-for-performance programs, Cisco's coalition will tie payments explicitly to technology adoption. One example is e-mail messaging between doctors and patients. Typically, doctors have been reluctant to trade e-mail with patients because they usually don't get paid for sending them, and they're leery of the liability of making a diagnosis over the Net. Now, however, Cisco is offering financial incentives to 8 to 10 big Bay Area medical groups to provide secure messaging to patients. Cisco will pay a fee for an online consultation -- exact prices are being negotiated, but they'll likely be some discount to an office visit. So doctors make money for offering their expertise. And patients don't have to miss a day of work to get routine stuff like sore throats or fevers treated.

Cisco: Paging Dr. Info Tech

Americans Endure 4 Million Drug Reactions a Year

They found that of 500 people, seven would see a doctor for an adverse drug reaction in one year," Zhan said. If you are a doctor, of every 270 patients there will be one who has an adverse drug reaction. If you are an emergency room doctor, then one patient out of every 133 will be seen for an adverse drug reaction


BioBOOM Op/Ed: Well that's a huge burden on health care systems. 74% of people with adverse drug reactions were seen at a doctor's office, 20%went to hospital emergency rooms, and 6% were seen at hospital outpatient departments, according to the report. Besides improved computer records and the suggestion to discuss treatment with relatives whom may also have had reactions may we suggest the need for metabolic profiling and additional investment in genomic screening for a more personalized approach, which the article does not seem to mention.

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