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R&D news in brief

Our weekly round up of R&D news in brief

Tracleer fails to impress in lung disease trials

Expectations that Actelion's drug Tracleer could double its sales potential have been dashed following disappointing clinical trials for treatment in lung disease. The drug was tested in two forms of pulmonary fibrosis to see if it could help patients' ability to walk for six minutes but failed to show any benefit. ìThe data is obviously disappointing and reduces the possibility of diversifying the product portfolio away from its reliance on Tracleer in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH),î said analyst Hernani deFaria at ZKB. Tracleer is currently approved for treatment of PAH, a rare type of hypertension, and is expected to bring in revenues of about $470m this year.

Cellcept shows promise

Immune-suppression drug CellCept works better than the standard chemotherapy medication in treating kidney complications from lupus, according to a new study. Nearly a quarter of patients who took the new drug saw their kidney problems go into remission after six months, compared with just 6 per cent of those receiving the older treatment. Lupus is a crippling and sometimes life-threatening diseases that mostly strikes women of childbearing age. CellCept is made by Hoffmann-La Roche ad is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients.

GSK to work on AIDS vaccine

GSK is planning to develop an experimental AIDS vaccine by fusing genes from the immunodeficiency virus onto an existing vaccine for measles. GSK Biologicals will license the measles-vaccine vector technology from Institut Pasteur of France and researchers from both groups will jointly develop the vaccine. While scientists believe a vaccine to defeat the virus is possible, so far it has proved difficult to develop an effective one. The GSK research will be supported by a public-private collaboration, and the initial project has been boosted by a grant of Ä5.5m from the European Union.

Obesity impacts on jab effectiveness

Injecting drugs into the buttocks may not be as reliable a method as first though, according to new research. Doctors from a Dublin hospital found that fleshy tissue on buttocks could sometimes prevent jabs properly penetrating to the muscle. ìThere is no question that obesity is the underlying cause,î said lead researcher Dr Victoria Chan, based at the Adelaide and Meath Hospital. ìWe have identified a new problem related, in part, to the increasing amount of fat in patients' buttocks.î Intramuscular injections are currently a common alternative when patients cannot take pills.

30th September 2008

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