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R&D news in brief

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

Immune intolerance hinders cancer vaccine

The search for a cancer vaccine will continue until immune intolerance is overcome, a recent Datamonitor report has found. The report, Cancer Vaccines and Cell Therapies - Technical Know How Needs Translation Into Clinical and Commercial Rewards, revealed that very few large-scale clinical trials have demonstrated a survival benefit associated with a cancer vaccine and studies have experience a high rate of clinical failure. ìOvercoming immune intolerance appears to be the key to success, however, translating the basic knowledge into clinical practice has proved difficult,î said Datamonitor oncology analyst Fleur Pijpers.

Breast cancer breakthrough

A team of researchers have designed a drug that can treat breast cancer in patients with a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Scientists from the Institute of Cancer Research, in collaboration with KuDOS Pharmaceuticals, designed the drug - a PARP inhibitor - to specifically target tumour cells but leave normal cancer cells alone. Studies in mice found that those treated with the inhibitor failed to develop cancer after treatment, compared to 80 per cent of mice that had not received treatment. A faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene increases a women's risk of breast cancer by 50-80 per cent.

Tysabri impresses in clinical trial

Elan and Biogen's withdrawn multiple sclerosis treatment Tysabri has performed well in clinical trials. The trials, which investigated the drug on 942 patients, found that Tysabri reduced the risk of disability progress by 42 per cent and the rate of relapse by 67 per cent. Brain lesions in patients with multiple sclerosis were also reduced. The treatment was withdrawn from the market in February this year after a patient taking the drug died.

Companies secure RNAi deal

Two US companies have secured a deal relating to RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics. Under the agreement, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals will provide Benitec and its licensees an option to non-exclusively license Alnylam-controlled intellectual property in the field of expressed RNAi. Alnylam will receive licence fees, milestone payments and royalties on any expressed RNAi product developed by Benitic as part of the deal.

30th September 2008

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