Tag: oncology

Company News: Jean-Paul Prieels joins VAXIMM’s Board of Directors

VAXIMM AG, a Swiss-German biotech spin-off from Merck KGaA focusing on cancer vaccines, announced today the appointment of Jean-Paul Prieels as a new member of its Board of Directors.

Dr. Prieels is a renowned industry expert in the vaccine field. He held various executive positions at GlaxoSmithKline, where he headed the vaccine research and development in Rixensart, Belgium, among others. Dr. Prieels, who joined GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals (formerly SmithKline Beecham Biologicals) in 1987, has been instrumental in developing several marketed vaccines, including cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix™, Rotarix™ to protect from rotavirus infection, and Synflorix™ for the prevention of pneumococcal infections. He retired from GSK as Senior Vice President Research and Development in early 2011 and is currently a board member of several biotech companies in the vaccine field.

VAXIMM’s lead product candidate VXM01 is being evaluated in a placebo-controlled phase I dose escalation study enrolling up to 45 pancreatic cancer patients, with results expected in H1, 2013.

Food for Thought: Weekly Wrap-Up

In Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) Martina Lenzen-Schulte this week reports about an oncology symposion in Wiesbaden/Germany that dealt with oncology patients increasingly turning towards alternative medicines – 40 to 70% according to recent estimates. Oncologists now start to notice they cannot ignore patents’ needs and hopes, and therefore a number of clinicians have turned to looking at available studies on complementary medicine to separate the wheat from the chaff. However, it turns out that many of these studies – on mistletoe therapy as well as on dietary recommendations – are insufficient to provide sound evidence.

Werner Bartens in Sueddeutsche Zeitung features a 3,700 patients study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association demonstrating that contrary to common wisdom low salt diets increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

In Wirtschaftswoche, Susanne Kutter introduces the Diapat diagnostic test developed by German biotech company Mosaiques DiaPat GmbH that analyses more than 6,000 different peptide and protein molecules in human urine in one run. The test can be used to diagnose and even predict the onset of diseases. It has just been approved by FDA for the diagnosis of renal diseases. Already, the company markets a prostate cancer urine test in Germany. Mosaique’s test, Kutter claims, is but one of the many achievements to come from proteomics. She adds that the tests will have the potential to save the healthcare system billions of Euros.

Haydn Shaughnessy in Forbes states the record of cancer treatment still looks poor, with cancer mortality not improving a lot – as for example compared to heart diseases. Likewise, many preventive measures such as exercise and low fat diets don’t work. Shaughnessy therefore makes the case to support crowdsourcing approaches to develop a cancer cure like Pink Army and Cancer Commons (see akampioneer’s earlier entry on Open Source Principles – a Concept for the Life Sciences?). Also in Forbes, Matthew Herper forecasts that Pfizer will break itself up and spin out companies soon.

Eric Pfanner in New York Times looks at new European ventures to fill a void in world news after so many news organizations are laying off journalists or closing shop. As examples, he introduces Worldcrunch, a web-based start-up translating newspaper articles from around the world into English and Presseurop which translates into other languages, too.

In the New Scientist Jessica Hamzelou writes that people easily distracted might have more grey matter in their brains than focused people. In a separate article, she also features a pacemaker-like, implantable device that can deliver timed doses of medications for a year. Boonsri Dickinson, also in New Scientist, interviews nobelist Eizabeth Blackburn, the co-discoverer of the telomerase enzyme and its role in aging. Blackburn co-founded biotech company Telome Health, which is now starting to sell a test for telomere length. While at present it is sold for research purposes, e.g. to know more about telomer length as markers of aging, the test will be offered to the public through physicians for $200 later this year. Ferris Jabr in New Scientist introduces an approach fastening nanocapsules filled with interleukins to T cells as a way to cure cancer. So far, it seems to work in mice.

And here our favorite quote from Matthew Herper’s blog, who recently mused about whether entrepreneurs share some genetic characteristics, and if so, whether one could invent an antibody to turn someone into an entrepreneur: “‘Entrepreneur Antibody:’ Serious Side Effects Might Include Visual Hallucinations of Venture Capital.”

And finally, Norbert Lossau in Die Welt features a study by LinkedIn into the most common given names of CEOs, finding that in Germany they are Wolfgang, Christoph and Michael. In France, Gilles is number one, while it is Charles in the UK, Ray in Canada, Guido in Italy and Howard in the US. Marketing people often have short names like Chip, Todd or Trey, while engineers seem to have much longer give names. So think twice before naming your next newborn!

Food for Thought: Open Source Principles – A Concept for the Life Sciences?

In the IT industry, open source is an acknowledged development principle for software that uses peer review and transparency of the development process. The promise of open source is better quality, i.e. higher reliability, more flexibility, and lower cost, among others.
Now, this principle is spreading to the life sciences. For one, there is the Open Source Sensing Initiative which is trying to apply a bottom-up, decentralized approach to the development of sensors for security and environmental purposes. Read more…

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