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MS drug sickens patient...again

By | December 16, 2008

Another case of a potentially fatal brain infection has been reported in a patient taking the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, the biotech who developed the drug announced yesterday. This is the fourth case of infection, called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) this year. They are the only cases reported since the drug was taken off the market in 2005 because of three cases of infection. The FDA allowed Tysabri back on the market in 2006 with restrictions and stronger warnings.

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Cash for CA stem cell co's

By | December 15, 2008

Six California stem cell biotech companies received more than $5 million in funding last week from the state's stem cell funding body -- the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), according to a linkurl:news release ;http://www.cirm.ca.gov/pdf/ICOC_121008.pdf from the agency. The money represents the first major pay out to companies from the state's $3 billion research enterprise. Until now, only Novocell Inc. had received a small grant of $50,000. The grants are part of 23 gr

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Prion pioneer dies

By | December 15, 2008

D. Carleton Gajdusek, a virologist and anthropologist who won the 1976 Nobel Prize for his work on the infectious brain agents now known as prions, died last Friday (Dec. 12) in Tromso, Norway. He was 85. "He was a genius," linkurl:Robert Klitzman,;http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/bec/staff/klitzman.html a psychiatrist at Columbia University in New York and Gajdusek's biographer, told __The Scientist__. "His brain was faster and at a higher level than anyone I've ever met." In the 1950s, link

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Columbia neuro employees steal 200K

By | December 12, 2008

Two employees in the pediatric neurological research department at Columbia University were arrested Wednesday (December 10) for scamming the institution out of more than $200,000. John Bzdil, the former manager of the pediatric neurosciences department at the university's Neurological Institute, and his wife, Heather Rinehart, will be presented with charges today (Dec 12) of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, a press officer from the US Attorney's office, Southern D

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Grants without peer review?

By | December 12, 2008

University College London is offering new unorthodox research grants for its staff without peer review, deadlines, directives, or milestones. The funding, which is open to any UCL employee, is in in the ballpark of £100,000 ($150,000) per year for at least three years for each awardee, according to UCL visiting earth sciences professor linkurl:Don Braben,;http://www.braben.com/VentureResearch/DB.html the scheme's brainchild and the founder of Venture Research International, a company that

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Research halted at Seattle hospital

By | December 11, 2008

Officials have halted enrollment in more than 600 human research studies taking place in Seattle this week after a federal audit found shoddy paperwork in some consent forms. The Department of Veterans Affair's linkurl:Office of Research Oversight;http://www1.va.gov/oro/ determined in a November audit that the linkurl:VA Puget Sound Health Care System;http://www1.va.gov/pugetsound/ should be more careful in documenting that human subjects are competent enough to make reasoned informed consent.

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Biotech wants tax break

By | December 10, 2008

Biotech industry executives are beseeching Congress today (10 Dec) for a temporary change in the tax code that would give some struggling biotech companies a cash boost. The plan would funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to some biotechs in exchange for tax credits that the companies would not take if they make money next year and beyond. Nearly a third of publically traded American biotech companies have a six month's or less supply of operating cash, The New York Times linkurl:reported.;h

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One bug's coat of many colors

By | December 10, 2008

Parasites can confuse their hosts' immune system by switching the proteins they display on their surface. But how? The intestinal parasite Giardi lamblia harnesses RNA interference to target which surface proteins to shut down, a study published tomorrow in Nature reports. "I actually think it's a superb paper," linkurl:Therdore Nash,;http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/labs/aboutlabs/lpd/gastrointestinalParasitesSection/ chief of gastrointestinal parasitology at the National Institute of Allergy and Inf

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Merck bets on generic biologics

By | December 9, 2008

Merck is planning to sell generic copies of blockbuster biotech drugs, the drug maker announced today (Dec. 9) at the annual business briefing at its New Jersey headquarters. Through the newly announced Merck BioVentures division, the company is setting its sights on biotech copycats, which still require their own clinical trials and cost millions to develop. As a result, these drugs are generally priced only marginally lower than branded versions and can still be a lucrative venture. The noti

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Nature to retract plant study

By | December 9, 2008

A highly cited __Nature__ paper that identified a long-sought receptor critical for mediating plant response to stress is being retracted after researchers were unable to reproduce the results. Corresponding author on the paper, linkurl:Robert Hill;http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~rhill/ from the University of Manitoba, first discovered a problem with the results over the summer when one of his students failed to reproduce the findings. "The binding assay procedures, at least in our hands, did no

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