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R&D news in brief

Our weekly round up of R&D news in brief

Statin RA breakthrough
Statins could be used to help people with rheumatoid arthritis, according to a new study published in the Arthritis & Rheumatism journal.

In laboratory tests, scientists at Japan's Jichi Medical School found statins could induce the cells that over-produce synovial tissue to kill themselves.

While statins have already been shown to induce cell death in both normal and tumour cells, the Japanese team found that fluvastatin could produce the same effect on synovial cells taken from people with rheumatoid arthritis.

UK and Italy back R&D incentive scheme
The British and Italian governments have put their weight behind a pioneering financial mechanism designed to motivate pharma companies to develop drugs and vaccines for diseases in the developing world.

The so-called Advance Market Commitment (AMC) to fund successful R&D projects is due to be finalised by the spring, according to Italy's finance minister Giulio Tremonti.

UK chancellor Gordon Brown said he planned to advance the proposal at the next G8 meeting in Moscow for approval. The AMC would offer a significant upfront payment provided by donors to create a market for the successful development of treatments to fight diseases prevalent in the developing world.

Bayer heart-surgery drug poses risks, says study
Bayer's widely used heart-surgery medicine, Trasylol could carry serious health risks, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study of 4,374 patients found patients taking the drug were at an increased risk of kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes, compared with patients taking different drugs or no drugs at all.

Trasylol is used to stem blood loss in patients undergoing heart-bypass surgery. It had worldwide sales of just under $200m during the first nine months of 2005.

Technology could spur cancer blood test
A team at the University of Birmingham believes that new technology could help scientists to develop a blood test to improve early diagnosis of liver cancer in high risk groups.

Their research used sophisticated protein measurement and computer analysis to detect changes characteristic of early liver cancer.

ìWe have shown that the right combination of technology and computer analysis can 'break the code' of liver cancer and distinguish people with early liver cancer from those without the disease,î said lead researcher Professor Philip Johnson.

30th September 2008

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