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R&D news in brief

Our weekly round-up of the R&D news in brief

Call for H5N1 data network
A group of 70 scientists and health officials involved in the research of avian flu have proposed the formation of a global consortium to facilitate the sharing of genetic data related to the H5N1 virus. In a letter published in Nature, the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) said ìthe current level of collection and sharing of data is inadequate, given the magnitude of the threatî. They also said that member scientists would agree to share sequence data, jointly analyse information and publish the results collaboratively.

Rituxan shows promise in MS trial
Genentech and Biogen Idec's cancer drug, Rituxan, has shown evidence of effectiveness against multiple sclerosis in a small phase II study. In the study of 104 patients, those receiving Rituxan showed a statistically significant reduction in the number of brain lesions seen on MRI scans at weeks 12, 16, 20 and 24, compared with those receiving placebo. The two firms said they would continue to analyse the results and will submit the data for presentation at a coming medical meeting.

Stem cell extraction breakthrough
Researchers at biotechnology firm, Advanced Cell Technology, say they have developed a new way of producing stem cells that ultimately may not require the destruction of human embryos. In experiments conducted with single cells extracted from tiny human embryos, by culturing the extracted cells in the right way, the team were able to encourage them into developing as stem cells. The researchers say the new method means new lines could be derived by simply extracting a single cell from an early-stage embryo.

30th September 2008

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