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R&D news in brief

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

Strong results for virus vaccine

Merck & Co's investigational vaccine for the sexually transmitted virus linked to cervical cancer triggered a stronger immune response in young adolescents than in young women in a late-stage trial. Results from a trial of 1,529 people found that Gardasil produced a significantly higher level of anti-viral antibodies in adolescent males and females aged 10 to 15 than in women aged 16 to 23, said Merck. Data from the phase III trial builds on results from earlier studies which suggests that Gardasil reduces the incidence of infections, including cervical pre-cancers and genital warts, in young women.

Stem cell cloning breakthrough

Scientists in Korea have cloned embryos for the first time from patients with serious diseases and injuries. A team of scientists from Seoul National University lead by Hwang Woo-suk has cloned embryos from 31 people with inherited diseases, or spinal injuries, and cultivated embryonic stems cells from 11 of them. Professor Hwang said the study was “a giant step forward towards the day when some of mankind's most devastating diseases and injuries can be effectively treated through the use of therapeutic stem cells”. Meanwhile, scientists at the Centre for Life, in Newcastle upon Tyne, revealed that they have created three human clones.

Drug offers increased sexual stamina

Johnson & Johnson has revealed that its drug to treat premature ejaculation can increase men's sexual stamina by up to three times. Data from a late-stage clinical trial involving 2,600 men was released at the annual meeting of the American Urology Association. Just over 50 per cent of the men who took the drug described the control they had over their ejaculation as “fair” to “very good”, compared with around three per cent in those not taking it. Dapoxetine was originally tested as an antidepressant and is in the same class as Prozac and Seroxat, yet proved unsuitable for the treatment of the condition as it leaves the body too quickly. The company has already filed with regulators in the US to get permission to sell the drug to American patients.

30th September 2008

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