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R&D news in brief

Our weekly round up of drug discovery and development stories.

European cancer research warning

Europe needs to double the amount of money it spends on cancer research to avoid losing top scientists, a European Cancer Research Managers Forum (ECRMF) survey has warned. The European Cancer Research Funding Survey found that EU member states spend seven times less per person on cancer research than the US, and that more than half of the research is funded by charities. Dr Richard Sullivan, ECRMF chair, said that the funding gap could leave scientists no choice but to emigrate from the EU to work in the US. This, in turn, could also affect the commercial attractiveness of the EU, he warned.

EC focuses on gender equality

A European Commission working paper has highlighted the need for increased gender equality in science. The paper, Women and Science: Excellence and Innovation - Gender Equality in Science, found that the main challenges of increasing gender equality were to empower women in the decision-making process, to find a good work-life balance and to make evaluation practices more gender neutral. Women currently make up only 14 per cent of all full professors in Europe, the report found.

Norway aims for Barcelona target

The Norwegian government will focus on the `priority areas' of internationalisation, basic research and innovation in order to reach the Barcelona target of spending 3 per cent of gross domestic product on R&D by 2010. In a white paper entitled Commitment to Research, the government said that it would add an extra NOK 16bn (€1.7bn) to the Norwegian Fund for Research and Innovation in 2006, raising the total capital of the fund to NOK50bn (€6bn). “The report sets the ambitious goal of making Norway a leading research nation,” said Kristen Clemet, Norway's minister of education and research.

Thyroxine could extend life

Taking the hormone thyroxine could extend a person's life by as much as 30 years, a scientist has claimed. Professor John Speakman from the University of Aberdeen conducted studies on mice and found that mice that were administered thyroxine had higher metabolic rates and lived approximately 25 per cent longer than mice with the lowest metabolic rates. Speakman said that this difference translated to approximately 30 years in humans. He will now carry out further studies to examine how varying dosages of thyroxine affect lifespan.

Aspirin safer than warfarin

Aspirin is safer than warfarin and is just as effective for treating blocked arteries in the brain, a US study has revealed. The Warfarin Aspirin Symptomatic Intracranial Disease trial funded by the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke compared warfarin to 1,300mg per day of aspirin in a total of 569 patients for an average of 1.8 years. It found that the rates of major haemorrage and death from all causes of stroke were significantly higher in the patients treated with warfarin.

30th September 2008

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