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.
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.
U.K. regulators approved BASF Plant Science's plan to grow test crops of a biotech potato in East Yorkshire. The company said planting would not begin until at least next year, after BASF has had discussions with neighboring farmers. Two other sites were approved in December, but one was abandoned because of anti-biotech protests.
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.
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.