A big new source of uranium in India? – A nicotine addiction vaccine flops – And the EU sets out how biofuels are to be certified

CHEMICAL – A huge uranium ore deposit of at least 49,000 tonnes has been confirmed at a south east Indian mine, according to news reports. There are indications that, after development, it could prove to be three times as big, which would make it the largest uranium mine in the world. According to Reuters, India currently produces 4.7GW of power from nuclear sources but has plans to increase this by 400 per cent to 20GW by 2020. It also recently opened its $150 billion (£93 million) nuclear power market up to private plant builders such as GE and Areva.

CHEMICAL – Instrument maker Thermo Fisher has bought Trek Diagnostic Systems, which makes microbiological testing kits. Trek is based in Ohio, US, and has 150 employees, and in 2010 it made sales of $34 million. Thermo say Trek has a significant product development pipeline, which it plans to develop using its large in-house expertise base.

PHARMACEUTICAL – Roche has agreed to buy German cancer diagnostics company MTM Laboratories. Roche will pay €130 million (£110 million) up front for the company, and has promised a further €60 million contingent upon certain performance related milestones. Roche say MTM’s range of products for detecting molecular markers of cervical cancer, are complimentary to their current human papilloma virus (HPV) assay, which also screens for early signs of cervical cancer.

PHARMACEUTICAL – The share price of Nabi biopharmaceuticals has fallen by 70 per cent after it announced that its nicotine addiction treatment, NicVax, failed to reach its endpoint in the first round of phase III clinical trials. NicVax performed at a similar rate (11 per cent) to the placebo in helping the 1000 subjects tested quit smoking. Nabi’s chief executive said the company will wait for results of the second round of trials to provide clues to the source of the disappointing results.

PHARMACEUTICAL – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it has received two reports that a positron emission tomography (PET) tracer preparation from a company called Bracco Imaging has delivered higher than expected doses of radiation to patients. It is thought that the preparation, Cardiogen-82, contained a quantity of radioactive strontium. Bracco manufactures rubidum-82 by decay from strontium-82 and abnormal column washing conditions could have resulted in the contamination.The FDA says the risk of harm from this exposure is minimal.

CHEMICAL – The European commission has approved seven new schemes by which biofuels can be approved for use. The schemes are intended to act as verification that fuels meet certain EU criteria and in particular address concerns that biofuels compete with crops for growing space. The main points of the schemes are that the fuels must produce 35 per cent less CO2 than the equivalent petrochemical fuel and they must not replace forests or other carbon sinks. The German International Sustainability and Carbon Certificate (ISCC) and Brazilian sugarcane fuel certificate, Bonsucro, are among the approved schemes.

PHARMACEUTICAL – The FDA has narrowly voted not to authorise dapagliflozin, from AstraZeneca and Bristol Meyers Squibb, as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. Dapagliflozin has a unique mode of action: it inhibits SGLT2, a selective sodium-glucose reabsorbtion channel in the kidney, and thereby induces a higher level of glucose excretion. Although the FDA concludes that dapagliflozin is a valuable drug, the report, published yesterday, recommends additional clinical population data in relation to rare side effects such as moderate renal and hepatic impairment.

Josh Howgego

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