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R&D news in brief

Our weekly round-up of drug discovery and development stories

Miscarriage benefit from asthma drug

Prednisolone, a commonly used steroid in the treatment of allergies including asthma, may help women who have suffered repeated miscarriages to successfully carry a baby to full-term. According to research conducted at the University of Liverpool, the drug dramatically reduces the levels of natural killer (NK) cells, which increases the chances of a successful pregnancy. In a small, preliminary trial involving 29 women who had suffered at least three miscarriages, two have conceived and delivered healthy babies, while another three have carried their pregnancy beyond the most risky period. Lead researcher, Dr Siobhan Quenby, is applying to undertake a much larger study (700 participants) into the effects of prednisolone on women.

Ethical explanation

A new publication from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry aims to provide guidance and explanation for people involved in ethics committee work, including prospective and current ethics committee members, as well as pharmaceutical company personnel involved in ethics committee applications. Introduction to the work of research ethics committees in the United Kingdom explains the terminology used in the area and contains guidance on conducting research using humans, including that into new and innovative medicines. The book is available, priced £15, from the ABPI publications department.

Genentech to buy ex-Tysabri plant

Genentech plans to pay $408m to Biogen Idec for its California-based manufacturing plant that Biogen had planned to use to make Tysabri, the multiple sclerosis drug it is developing and marketing with Elan. However, since Tysabri has been linked with a rare brain infection plans for its production have been downscaled and Biogen has sold the plant to Genentech which will use it to manufacture its cancer drug, Avastin. The firm hopes to begin making the drug, which has shown effectiveness against lung and breast cancer, next year.

30th September 2008

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