Archive for ‘Biotechs’

January 8, 2014

Nestle joining forces with biotech company to study diet and disease link

(Reuters) – Nestle SA is set to enter a biotechnology partnership with Cellular Dynamics International (CDI) to study the relation between diet and disease, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The maker of Kit Kat chocolate bars and Maggi soups will take brain and liver cells from CDI to study the effect of nutrients found in foods, the Journal cited Emmanuel Baetge, director of the Nestle Institute of Health Sciences, as saying in an interview. (

Madison, Wisconsin-based CDI develops and manufactures human cells in industrial quantities to precise specifications for customers to research cellular therapeutics, among other uses.

Both companies are expected to announce the deal this week without disclosing the financial terms, the newspaper added.

Nestle and CDI could not be reached for comment outside regular business hours.

(Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Bangalore; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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January 3, 2014

4 Biggest Biotech Disasters Of 2013

Biotechnology stocks have been among the best performing investment vehicles throughout much of 2013.  With the momentum still firmly in tact as we head into 2014, investors are likely licking their chops for additional gains.  Unfortunately, the industry does carry abnormal risk and four stocks suffered the cruel fate of failure in a year when it was hard not to win.  The four stocks that suffered catastrophic drops in value were Amarin Corporation (NASDAQ:AMRN), Ariad Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ARIA), Celsion CLSN +4.37% Corporation (NASDAQ:CLSN), and Infinity Pharmaceuticals INFI -2.61% (NASDAQ:INFI).

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December 26, 2013

Des “ciseaux moléculaires” qui pourraient découper le VIH

Un espoir de plus pour la guérison du sida? Des chercheurs allemands ont réussi à guérir plusieurs souris infectées par le VIH grâce à une nouvelle méthode surprenante: une enzyme qu’ils ont créée ferait office de ciseaux et découperait le virus à l’intérieur des cellules infectées, sans endommager celles-ci. La découverte est reprise par The Local, site d’informations allemandes en anglais.

Les chercheurs, d’une université de Dresde (Allemagne) ont réussi à constituer cette enzyme un peu particulière suite à plusieurs mutations et sélections. Résultat, elle serait faite en sorte qu’elle puisse identifier une séquence d’ADN particulière, puis l’enlever de la cellule infectée. Plus encore, cette enzyme serait capable de remodeler la découpe dans la cellule, qui survit ainsi.

Il faut savoir qu’une enzyme est une molécule qui la plupart du temps, est une protéine, synthétisée par des cellules vivantes à partir des informations codée dans l’ADN. Elle joue un rôle de catalyseur, c’est-à-dire qu’elle peut produire des réactions biochimiques sans modifier ce à quoi elle touche.

Efficace à plus de 90%

Frank Buchholz, auteur principal de cette étude, explique que si cette méthode était appliquée aux hommes, “du sang serait pris des patients, et les cellules souches qui peuvent former des globules seraient enlevées”.

La théorie de ces chercheurs est que ces cellules souches, immunisées, vont se reproduire en coupant le VIH des cellules infectées et en leur permettant de fonctionner à nouveau. La méthode serait efficace à plus de 90%.

C’est en tout cas ce qui s’est passé avec les souris, selon Joachim Hauber, à la tête de la section de stratégie antivirale de l’institut partenaire Hamburg’s Heinrich Pette Institute:

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December 17, 2013

Biopharmaceutical industry: Where investment opportunities outweigh the risks

Learn about the investment opportunities in the biopharmaceutical industry from a senior vice president at GE Capital Healthcare Financial Services.

The biopharmaceutical industry is a mix of opportunities: from wins earned through negotiations over the Accountable Care Act to coming battles over reimbursement. In this article, Savant Ahmed, a senior vice president at GE Capital Healthcare Financial Services, discusses the current status of the industry and provides an outlook on the opportunities and challenges for biopharmaceutical investors.

Q. What is the state of the biopharmaceutical industry?

Savant Ahmed

A. Broadly speaking, the fundamentals of the biopharmaceutical industry continue to improve due to three main factors.

First, the generic cliff is receding for the industry as a whole, essentially removing the earnings drag that the industry has experienced for the last several years.

Second, the R&D pipelines continue to improve, as FDA approvals in 2011 and 2012 set multiyear records, and confidence in the commercial potential of late-stage pipelines remains high.

Third, the industry continues to make better capital allocation decisions related to internal R&D, share buybacks, and dividends and acquisitions/divestitures. These dynamics are also positively impacting ancillary sectors such as contract research organizations (CROs) and contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) among others.

These positives are clearly reflected in the public markets where pharmaceutical, Biotech, CRO and CMO indices are trading at multiyear highs in terms of forward price-to-earnings (PE) ratios. Additionally, the last year has been among the most productive for Biotech initial public offerings (IPOs). Conversely, the receding generic cliff is leading to muted valuations for generics players.

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December 9, 2013

Is Buffalo’s biotech project getting more traction ahead of launch?

There’s been more traction for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. Read about this new investment in biotech in New York.

The $250 million drug development project announced a year ago for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is on track to open a small-scale local operation by February.

In addition, the plan to bring Albany Molecular Research Inc. to the campus, hailed as part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” economic development campaign, has evolved with a second company also now committed to locate here, sources confirmed.

PerkinElmer, a Massachusetts company with 7,500 employees and $2 billion in annual revenue, will join AMRI as a partner and together become the first two companies to open local offices. The state is investing $50 million to build and equip a high-tech, drug-development facility for them on the campus.

Cuomo revealed the outline of the AMRI project last December, and academic, business and government leaders spent the past year firming up those plans and figuring out where on the medical campus to put AMRI and its partner.

The companies will move into temporary space at the Jacobs Neurological Institute, where a small contingent of researchers will work while permanent space for AMRI and PerkinElmer is built within a Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. facility already under construction, state and medical campus officials told The News.

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December 5, 2013

2013 Pharma and Biotech Financial Report – Pharmaceutical Executive

Big Pharma and biotech continue to need each other. But biotech is feeling slightly more confident as the options for IPOs get better, writes Peter Young.

Business issues include ongoing structural challenges in pharma and biotech such as a very different R&D/commercialization dynamic; changing relationships with patients and providers; shifts in patent laws and regulation, reductions in government spending and unpredictable behavior with regard to pricing, market access and IP. External factors include a global economy struggling to resume growth and financial stability; continuing government efforts to prevent a Euro zone economic and financial meltdown; political uncertainties linked to the phase-in of comprehensive health reform in the US; economic slowdown in emerging market economies like India and Brazil; and a positive surge in Western stock market valuations.

These external factors have had an enormous incremental effect on the financial trends in pharma and biotech this year and will continue to have an impact going forward.

A recent report “Pharma and Biotech Strategic, M&A, and Financial Trends Report” by Young & Partners covers the first three quarters of 2013 and the outlook for 2014. The report presents a separate view of both the pharma and biotech industries and tracks :

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November 25, 2013

New ancestral enzyme identified that facilitates DNA repair

Every day, the human body produces new cells to regenerate tissues and repair those that have suffered injury.

Every day, the human body produces new cells to regenerate tissues and repair those that have suffered injury. Each time this happens, the cells make copies of their DNA that they will pass on to the resulting daughter cells. This process of copying the DNA, also called replication, is very delicate, given that it can generate severe alterations in the DNA that are associated with malignant transformation or ageing.

Researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), led by Juan Méndez, head of the DNA Replication Group, together with Luis Blanco, from the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Centre (CBM-CSIC), have discovered how a new human enzyme, the protein PrimPol, is capable of recognising DNA lesions and facilitate their repair during the DNA copying process, thus avoiding irreversible and lethal damage to the cells and, therefore, to the organism.

The results are published in the online edition of the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. This study represents the continuation of a prior study, published recently by the same researchers in the journal Molecular Cell, in which they described the existence and biochemical properties of the PrimPol enzyme.

The DNA that resides in the nucleus of cells is the carrier of the genes, the instruction manuals that dictate how the cell works. “DNA structure is very stable, except during replication which normally takes approximately eight hours in human cells; during that period it becomes more fragile and can break”, says Méndez. These eight hours are therefore critical for cells: they have to ensure the fidelity of copying DNA, and if errors are found or the DNA is damaged, they have to repair them as efficiently as possible.

Avoiding Collapse

DNA polymerases are the enzymes responsible for synthesising new DNA. “When a DNA polymerase finds an obstacle in the DNA [a chemical alteration introduced by solar ultraviolet radiation, for example], the copy is interrupted and the process stops until the error is repaired. This interruption can cause breaks in the DNA, translocations of fragments from some chromosomes to others, and even cause cell death or malignant transformation”, says Méndez.

The research carried out by CNIO and CSIC demonstrates that the PrimPol enzyme prevents the copying process from being interrupted when there is damage: it recognises lesions and skips over them, and they are repaired when the copy is finished.

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November 25, 2013

Biogen wins 10-year protection for new multiple sclerosis treatment drug

Tecfidera was approved in the U.S. and also recommended for approval in Europe – but its EU launch was delayed.

LONDON (Reuters) – Biogen Idec has won regulatory protection for its top-selling multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera in Europe, paving the way for its launch in markets that could account for a large proportion of future sales.

The European Medicines Agency said on Friday it had granted the oral medicine a “new active substance” (NAS) designation, securing Biogen 10 years protection through data exclusivity that will stop generic firms from launching copycat versions.

In March, Tecfidera was approved in the United States and also recommended for approval in Europe – but its EU launch has been delayed, pending a resolution of uncertainty over data protection.

Without this protection, Biogen would have to rely on relatively weak patents relating the drug’s use, which analysts believe might not prevent generic rivals launching cheaper copies in key markets like Germany.

Tecfidera competes with Novartis’ Gilenya and Sanofi’s Aubagio, two other oral therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS).

Oral treatments have proved a popular alternative to traditional drug injections for the debilitating neurological disorder and Tecfidera sales have exceeded market expectations, reaching $286 million in the third quarter.

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November 21, 2013

The eyes are the window to…the pancreas?

Researchers have transferred pancreatic cells to the eyes, turning them into health reporters for the pancreas. The findings could impact diabetes research in a major way.

Researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden say this technique enables the eye to serve as a sort of window into health reports from the pancreas.

Their findings, which could have a major impact on diabetes research, are published in the journal PNAS.

The Islets of Langerhans are endocrine cells of the pancreas, which means they release insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. After a meal, these cells release insulin into the blood at an amount in direct proportion to the amount of food eaten.

However, in cases of obesity, larger amounts of the hormone insulin are needed to make up for the larger amount of food and sensitivity to the hormone.

By increasing the number of insulin-producing beta-cells, the Islets of Langerhans try to adapt to this condition, the researchers say – a function important to the maintenance of normal blood sugar levels. When this function breaks down, it can lead to diabetes.

The eye ‘reports’ on the pancreas

Studying the Islets of Langerhans is very difficult, however, because they are deeply embedded in the tissue of the pancreas and they are distributed throughout.

But by transferring the Islet cells to the eye, the research team has found a new way to study them.

Per-Olof Berggren, professor of experimental endocrinology at the Karolinska Institutet, says:

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November 20, 2013

Le meilleur de la conférence façon TED des Français de la pharma

De l’émotion, une pointe d’humour, de la transmission de savoirs et un message délivré. Ce mardi 19 novembre au soir, le syndicat de l’industrie pharmaceutique (Leem) s’essayait aux conférences TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design), ces courtes interventions qui cartonnent aux Etats-Unis pour vulgariser des “idées qui valent la peine d’être diffusées”. Dans le public de la Gaîté Lyrique, à Paris, 400 personnes, principalement des étudiants en école de commerce ou pharmacie. Le thème ? “Biotech, les nouveaux explorateurs de la santé”. Défilent donc sur scène “neuf pionniers de la médecine de demain”, dont les “nouveaux traitements suscitent curiosité, questions voire inquiétude”, annonce le Leem. Habits noir, micro discret, antisèches parfois à la main, ils ont dix minutes chrono pour convaincre.



Le résultat ? Pas mal pour une première fois. 19h30. Pas facile d’ouvrir le bal pour Annick Schwebig, la présidente du comité biotech du Leem, qui se lance dans un tour d’horizon des innovations qui s’apprêtent à révolutionner la santé : les puces à ADN pour détecter les anomalies génétiques, le cœur artificiel, les dispositifs de suivi à distance de la prise de médicaments… Une petite touche d’humour n’aurait pas été de trop, mais la vulgarisation est là. Mention spéciale à Renaud Vaillant, de la biotech de Theravectys, capable de raconter avec simplicité et dynamisme le développement d’un vaccin thérapeutique contre le virus du Sida. “Vecteurs lentiviraux”, “cellules dendritiques” : des “mots clés que je vous propose d’utiliser dans vos diners mondains”, s’amuse le jeune ingénieur.

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