Roche Holding has opened a new biotech production facility in Basel, Switzerland, where it will manufacture the cancer drug Avastin. Roche also plans to open a new facility in Penzberg, Germany, in July.
U.S. researchers have developed a fusion protein that is able to block the spread of some cancer cells by preventing the cells from ingesting a vital protein called methionine, without damaging normal cells. It could be particularly helpful in cases of breast, lung, prostate and pancreatic cancers.
The Supreme Court declined to get involved in a patent dispute among Amgen, Aventis Pharmaceuticals and Shire Genetic Therapies concerning Amgen's Epogen anemia drug. Amgen had appealed to the high court a circuit court decision, which ruled only two of the Amgen patents were valid and reversed a district court's decision in support of two others.
Mark Thornton, a former medical officer in the FDA Office of Oncology Products, criticized the agency for failing to approve two "safe, promising" therapies designed to stimulate a patient's immune system to fight cancer. "While our lawmakers obsess over FDA 'safety reforms,' no one is holding this government agency accountable for its complicity in stalling therapies for life-threatening diseases," Thornton said.
One study points to a mechanism HIV uses to infect immune system cells, which could help scientists develop a treatment to boost the immune response to the disease. A second study shows that certain gene combinations may help slow progression of the disease.
Roche announced it has bought Therapeutic Human Polyclonals, a California- and Germany-based biotech, to add to its protein research pharma center. Roche said it paid $56.5 million to buy THP, which specializes in human antibody technologies.