September 2010



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Have a listen to this month’s Chemistry World podcast to hear Andrew, Anna and Phillip talking about the role of cement chemistry in the BP oil spill, the secret to oyster’s stickiness, and lots more.

We also discuss the current research into artificial blood with the University of Essex’s Chris Cooper, and interview Cole DeForest, from the University of Colorado, about using click chemistry for biological applications.

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PHARMACEUTICAL

Aflunov positive opinion

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Novartis has won a positive European decision for its ‘pre-pandemic’ avian flu vaccine, Aflunov. The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommended that the European Commission (EC) grant the vaccine marketing approval.

‘The onset of a pandemic can be very rapid, leaving little or no time to prepare,’ said Andrin Oswald, head of the Novartis vaccines and diagnostics division. ‘Vaccinating in advance may prevent the potential devastation of a pandemic outbreak.’

Novartis expects an EC marketing decision from the EC before the end of the year. (more…)

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In this week’s Chemistry in its element podcast, writer Hayley Birch shines a light on to the chemistry and medical uses of cholesterol

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EdMiliband

The UK Labour Party announced its new leader yesterday, with former climate change secretary Ed Miliband pipping his brother David to the post. So do we have any idea whether the new leader of the opposition is a friend of science?

At the RSC’s Parliamentary Links Day in June, he admitted that his Mum had wanted both he and his brother to become scientists, and persuaded them to take A-level physics. ‘I came off rather better from it than [David] did, but neither of us showed any aptitude for science,’ he said.

(more…)

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Buying hair bleach? An innocuous activity you might think. Mundane even. But if your purchase is deemed ‘suspicious’, the European Commission (EC) wants you reported, according to a new proposal.

The problem the EC is trying to tackle is that of access to readily-available chemicals that could be used to make homemade bombs. Under the rules of the proposal, which is being championed by Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, members of the public would need a licence to buy high concentrations of eight chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, ammonium nitrate and nitric acid. Hydrogen peroxide is used in a wide range of consumer products, including hair bleaching lotions, toilet cleaners and dishwashing detergents. It is typically sold as 3 or 6 percent solutions, although 30 per cent solutions are available. Without a licence, it would be unavailable to the public in concentrations above 12 per cent.

In addition, sellers would be required to report ‘suspicious transactions’ of those eight chemicals, as well as a further seven chemicals that include hexamine, sulfuric acid and acetone. (more…)

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CW this week

27 September 2010: Have something to say about an article you’ve read on Chemistry World this week? Leave your comments below…

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PHARMACEUTICAL

Novartis wins race for MS pill…

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Novartis has won the race to bring to the US market an oral treatment for relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) – with approval of Gilenya (fingolimod) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In one sense, the pharma giant is runner-up to german company Merck KGaA, which scored approval for its cladribine tablets in Russia and Australia earlier this year. But US approval is likely to be much more lucrative. Merck is expecting a US decision on its offering before the end of the year.

(more…)

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After attending the 2010 Nobel laureates meeting in Lindau, Germany this year, and meeting some of the Nobel laureates, I am very eager to find out who have won the prestigious awards this year.

Unfortunately, we still have some time to wait – the Nobel prizes are not going to be publicised until the week commencing 4 October, with the chemistry Nobel prize not being announced until 6 October.

However, to add to the anticipation and for all of us that like a bit of speculation and intrigue, Thomson Reuters has released its picks for the 2010 Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates – researchers likely to be in contention for Nobel honours. (more…)

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PHARMACEUTICAL

Another look at Avastin

The ongoing US evaluation of Avastin (bevacizumab) as a breast cancer treatment has been extended by three months. US biotech Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche, is now expecting a decision on its drug from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by 17 December. (more…)

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The Lhasa Limited symposium held last week in Leeds, UK, on toxicity prediction left delegates armed with a new understanding of the discipline.

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The Leeds Royal Armouries (UK) was an apt venue for a discussion on the future of toxicity prediction and speaker after speaker drew from their own personal armoury of arguments about what they see on the horizon for predictive toxicology.

First up was Thomas Hartung, Director for the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing (CAAT) at Johns Hopkins University, US, who talked about revolution – not the kind involving arms but of a ‘real revolution in regulatory toxicity’. He spoke passionately about the contrasting approaches in Europe versus the US towards the development of new toxicological tools. In the former, he characterised the approach as ‘bottom up’ with a strong focus on the 3R’s principles to replace animal testing (replacement, refinement and reduction), while in the US, he spoke of the ‘top down’ approach characterised by the ‘Tox-21c’ vision, where programmed research is carried out and commissioned. For Hartung, the two approaches are two sides of the same coin, and more importantly, he believes, if brought together can result in a Human Toxicology Project and a revolution in the regulation of toxicology.

(more…)

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