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R&D news in brief

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

AIDS trial is valid

Data from a controversial AIDS trial conducted in the late 1990s is ìsound and reliableî a scientific panel has concluded. The trial administered approximately 1,000 pregnant HIV-positive Ugandan women with Nevirapine to investigate whether the drug would prevent unborn children from contracting the virus. However, the trial caused a furore when the African National Congress accused the US of using Africans as guinea pigs. Despite the panel's conclusion, those involved in the trial were criticised for ìflaws in record-keeping and procedural issuesî.

Commission outlines FP7 proposals

The competitiveness of Europe must start with research, European ministers have argued. Unveiling the European Commission's proposals for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), science research commissioner Janez Potocnik revealed that the EU budget for research and development would be doubled on an annual basis. The European Parliament is also eager to support research and development and would urge the EU to increase R&D spending, Potocnik added.

Indevus receives UK grant

Bio-pharmaceutical company Indevus Pharmaceuticals has been awarded a £26m grant from the UK government and the Medical Research Council to help the firm fund an HIV trial. The phase III trial, which will run for 39 months in Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, will test the safety and effectiveness of Indevus' HIV prevention treatment PRO 2000. Approximately 12,000 women are expected to take part in the trial.

Genomics and proteomics research

Europe is having a good deal of success in the field of advanced genomics and proteomics research, a recent report has found. The report, Drug Discovery - European Advances in Genomics and Proteomics, released by Frost & Sullivan, found that significant government funding and the presence of large pharmaceutical companies has made Europe a major competitor in the efforts to deploy genomics and proteomics as vital tools in R&D. Current research activities aim at going beyond the realm of human genome sequencing to expand the list of identified proteins and genes, Frost & Sullivan said.

Ark reveals new R&D head

David Eckland has been appointed head of research and development at Ark Therapeutics, the company has revealed. Eckland joins Ark Therapeutics from Takeda Europe and replaces Alan Boyd who has decided to move into a part-time role within the company. Ark Therapeutics is a spin-out biotech company from University College London and successfully floated on the stock market last year.

30th September 2008

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