Arena cuts 66 jobs


US company Arena Pharmaceuticals has said it will cut its workforce by about 25 per cent, equivalent to 66 employees, by the end of March. The move will cost the company $3.8 million (£2.4 million) in one-time costs, but it could save $13.5 million per year in the long term. The Arena obesity candidate, Lorqess (locaserin), was refused entry to the US market in October 2010. Arena Pharmaceuticals sold commercialisation rights to Lorqess to Japanese pharma company Eisai for $1.37 billion upfront plus other terms in July 2010. Arena expects to resubmit its application to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2011. 


US funding for Ca-La biodiesel catalysts


US start-up NextCat has received $250,000 in seed funding from member organisation Automation Alley. NextCat is looking to commercialise catalysts for producing biodiesel from feedstocks that are cheaper than those typically used, including waste vegetable oil, animal fats and corn oil. The calcium-lanthanum metal oxide catalysts were developed by a team at Wayne State University in Detroit, US. According to the company, over 80 per cent of the biodiesel plants in the US are currently not in use because they cannot produce biodiesel profitably.


Bounty of biofuel proteins found in cow microbes


Daisy's full of useful bugs apparently


Researchers have found, in the microbes living in the digestive organs of cows, genes that could improve the production of biofuels. (M Hess et al, Science, 2011, 331, 463, DOI: 10.1126/science.1200387) They used DNA sequencing to find 28,000 genes and 90 proteins that break down cellulosic plant material, something that is hard to do efficiently by artificial means. ‘The paucity of enzymes that efficiently deconstruct plant polysaccharides represents a major bottleneck for industrial-scale conversion of cellulosic biomass into biofuels,’ the researchers say in their paper.


Bayer teams up in India


German pharma and chemical group Bayer and Indian company Zydus Cadila have agreed to create a new company in India called Bayer Zydus Pharma. Each company will have a 50 per cent stake in the joint venture and equal representation on the management board. Bayer says it is looking to strengthen its position in the Indian pharma market. About 600 employees will transfer to the new company from the parent companies.


Teva buys Peruvian generics firm


Israeli generics firm Teva has said it will buy Corporacion Infarmasa, a pharmaceutical company based in Peru, from the two investment companies that own it. Teva already owns a company based in Peru: Corporacion Medco. Infarmasa makes generics, including corticosteroids, antihistamines, analgesics and antibiotics, at two sites in Lima. Financial details were not disclosed.


Andrew Turley


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