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R&D news in brief

Our weekly round-up of drug discovery and development stories.

EC launches scientific `Yellow Pages'

The European Commission has launched an online tool designed to be the ìYellow Pages of scientific adviceî. The tool, known as SINAPSE (Scientific Information for Policy Support in Europe), will aim to make scientific advice more accessible between policy makers and encourage scientific debate across different sections of the scientific community. ìWith SINAPSE, I believe we have a strong tool to access [scientific] expertise in real time,î said EU science and research commissioner, Janez Potocnik.

EMEA expects biogeneric approval

European drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) could approve the first biogeneric drug this year. The agency said that it has received three applications from companies hoping to market a biogeneric drug and expects one of these products to gain approval some time this year. Last year, the European Commission rejected an application from Sandoz to market the generic human growth hormone drug, Omnitrop, despite the drug receiving clearance from the EMEA.

Researchers discover skin disease gene

UK researchers have discovered the gene responsible for the skin disease Harlequin Ichthyosis (HI). By studying 12 babies with HI, scientists from the Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry in London used SNP array technology to pinpoint that 11 out of the 12 babies carried a mutated form of the gene ABCA 12. It is hoped that the discovery could lead to new tests and treatments for the disease. HI causes the skin of babies infected with the disease to dry out and form hard diamond-shaped plaques. At present, few babies who develop the condition survive.

Azilect reduces disability

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries' Parkinson's disease drug, Azilect (rasagiline), has met two of its end points in clinical trials. A trial involving 687 patients found that when Azilect was used in combination with the drug levodopa, it reduced disability and decreased motor fluctuations. The research also found that Azilect reduced the `off' periods when levodopa medication stops working by an average of 1.2 hours each day.

CNS R&D proves a challenge

Many current therapies for central nervous system (CNS) diseases merely treat the symptoms but do not provide cures, a report from Research and Markets has found. The report, Neurogenomics and Neurotherapeutic Strategies: New Directions in Platforms, Targets and Therapeutics, found that drug discovery efforts for the most prevalent CNS diseases are meeting with varied success. In the US alone, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis afflict more than 6.5 million people but the complexities of the diseases make R&D challenging, the report said.

30th September 2008

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