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R & D news in brief

Our weekly round-up of drug discovery and development stories

Chinese malaria treatment best

New research into the treatment of severe malaria has shown that a drug based on traditional Chinese medicine is more effective and safer than quinine, the conventional treatment. The study, published in the Lancet and funded by the Wellcome Trust, found that artesunate, a derivative of artemisinin, reduced mortality by 35 per cent in comparision with quinine. Study chief, Professor Nick White, said artesunate was easier to use and cheaper than its conventional counterpart and should now become the accepted treatment for severe malaria.

Issuing reassurance

Biotech firm GeneMedix has reassured investors that it is pursuing a number of opportunities to raise cash in the near future after reporting first-half pre-tax losses of £2.76m. Three months ago, the company warned that it had only enough money to see it through that time period but now says that it has enough money to keep going for another four months. The group added that it has made ìsignificant progressî in the development of its lead compound, erythropoietin and is ìmore optimisticî about its prospects.

Eisai progresses candidates

Eisai is to move an experimental compound for treating severe sepsis into the next stage of testing on the back of positive phase II results. The compound, named E5564 and known generically as eritoran, showed a reduction in mortality in the study, which enrolled 293 patients. It won a fast-track designation from the Food and Drug Administration in 1999. The Tokyo-based company has already announced that it will advance two of its other key phase II experimental compounds, Parkinson's disease treatment E2007 and anti-cancer drug, E7389, into further testing.

Aspirin cuts bowel cancer

A new study involving almost 83,000 women has concluded that taking aspirin regularly for more than 10 years can reduce the risk of bowel cancer. Those who had taken two or more aspirin a week were found to have significantly cut their risk. However, the team at the Harvard Medical School said more work was needed to see if the benefits outweighed the risks. The doses of aspirin used in the trial were also high enough to increase the risk of gut bleeds.

All in the wrist

Cancer Research UK is hoping to capitalise on the thriving charity wristband market by launching a coloured charity ring. Called `the Pinkie', the ring format follows the charity's successful use of a pink `breast cancer ribbon' last year. Cancer Research hopes the ring will raise awareness of its work on breast cancer in the run-up to Breast Cancer Awareness month, which falls in October. The disease killed 12,696 women in the UK in 2003.

30th September 2008

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